U.S. Pressure on Iran Is Curbing the Mullahs’ Ability to Shed Blood

March 9 2020

During the past 40 years, American experts and policymakers have claimed that the rulers of the Islamic Republic are divided between “moderates” and “hardliners,” and therefore that a conciliatory U.S. posture will strengthen the hand of the moderates while confrontation will only make the hardliners even more aggressive. This theory was used to justify the 2015 nuclear deal, and has likewise been cited by critics of Washington’s current policy of “maximum pressure.” But the nuclear deal was followed by years of brutal Iranian adventurism throughout the Middle East, while the present course, as Amir Taheri explains, seems to be bringing out the opposite result:

[B]adly hit by cash-flow problems, the [Iranian] regime has been forced to cut down payments to regional clients in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Gaza. This has led to a reduction in Lebanese Hizballah’s military presence in Syria while the Houthis in Yemen have also gone into slow-motion mode. Almost all offices in 30 Iranian towns and cities recruiting “volunteers” to fight in Syria, ostensibly to protect Shiite shrines, have been closed or downgraded into a symbolic presence.

The Islamic Republic has also stopped raising new fighting units of Afghan and Pakistani mercenaries. . . . At the same time, Tehran has taken no new hostages and even released three, including an American. In his meeting in Zurich with Brian Hook, Trump’s point-man on Iran, the Iranian foreign minister Muhammad Javad Zarif relayed the message that Tehran was prepared for further releases.

The daily Kayhan, believed to reflect Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s views, claimed last Tuesday that, in a letter transmitted through the Swiss ambassador, Tehran had “indicated agreement” to return to a de-facto recognition of “the Zionist regime,” disarming of the Lebanese branch of Hizballah, and ending support for Hamas.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Iranian nuclear program, U.S. Foreign policy

Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada