by Reza Shafiee
The Iranian regime has been and will be a source of instability in the region. Not a single day goes by without another indication of this insidious behavior. Aside from somewhat more evident and aggressive moves, such as Iran's chasing U.S. and U.K. battleships with speedboats in the volatile Strait of Hormuz – almost about a third of all oil exports pass through it every day - there are also less-noticeable and cannier moves planned and executed by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the area. One is the building of a missile factory for Lebanon's Hezbollah, according to a report in Al-Arabiya's Persian language website on March 11.
Al-Arabiya explains that after a weapons factory belonging to IRGC was bombed in Sudan, the Iranian regime is now building not one but several missile factories in Hezbollah-held territories in Lebanon.
It may come as shock to some who believed that after all the hustle and bustle of signing the nuclear deal with six world’s powers, that this regime would come around and behave itself. However, despite the former U.S. administration officials’ optimism that mullahs’ regime might think twice before engaging in yet another provocation, it has been busy doing the exact opposite.
Al-Arabiya explains that after a weapons factory belonging to IRGC was bombed in Sudan, the Iranian regime is now building not one but several missile factories in Hezbollah-held territories in Lebanon. The website refers to a high ranking IRGC commander’s comments that Iran is building missile factories and in three months' time will turn the operations over to Hezbollah.
The IRGC official also reveals that these factories have multifunctional capabilities which enable the industry to manufacture even drones among other things such surface to surface and surface to air missiles with a range of over 300 miles.Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan, Iranian regime’s defense minister, said. "The Lebanese Hezbollah is now able to build missiles covering the hole of Israel.” Earlier he had commented on the need to “wipe out Israel.”
Informed sources say that the actual factories are built in bomb proof bunkers over 150 feet deep underground to avoid Israeli air strikes.
On March 13, in an interview with state-run television, General Dehghan unveiled IRGC’s strategy to attack “enemies” in the West.
He says that there will be a situation of asymmetric warfare where “we need to have sufficient power to surprise the enemy. In other words, we need to hit the enemy where it hurts the most.”
The best examples of such warfare he is referring to can be seen in the 9/11 attacks and the war in Afghanistan.
The full scale of his comments sink in when last week harsher but similar views were expressed by another IRGC strategist, Hassan Abbasi. His remarks were picked up by CNS NEWS where he said that U.S. heartland was their target and they had plans to hit the U.S. where it hurts. The stark similarities of comments are not to be taken lightly.
Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations -breferring to mullahs’ regime’s frequent missile tests in recent weeks - said that the United States believed it imperative to “get Iran and their proxies” out of Syria to maintain longstanding peace.This of course was not the only U.S. official who pointed out the destabilizing role the regime plays in the region.
CENTCOM commander and Army Gen. Joseph Votel told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 9 that a range of competing interests in the Middle East were creating complex situations for U.S. Central Command to navigate.
General Votel later in his testimony said: “Iran seeks to be the regional hegemon,” and poses the greatest security threat in the whole CENTCOM area of responsibility." Giving an example, he said that the country is building a layered defense that includes a Russia-built air defense system and anti-ship cruise missiles.
It is not just U.S. officials who are alarmed by the Tehran-based rulers’ destructive and destabilizing activities with the help of IRGC in the region, but most Arab neighbors too. The latter are extremely nervous about the way this regime misbehaves.
Salman Al-Dossary, former editor in chief of Asharq–Al–Awsat wrote on Sunday:
Iran’s elite revolutionary guard, an armed force intended to protect Tehran’s theocratic regime, has registered disruptive and intrusive activity in 14 regional states.In his view, the IRGC has been stepping up its meddling in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon from the time the Iranian regime began talking with the six world powers about the nuclear issue.
Al-Dossary presents his argument against Iranian regime based on an investigative report the paper published on March 10 by Struan Stevenson, president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association arguing and documenting for the blacklisting of the IRGC and potential ways to confront its destructive actions in the Middle East.
Based on Stevenson’s report, Al-Dossary estimates that the cost of regime’s dangerous meddling just in Syria alone amounts to $100 billion.
A valuable and enlightening book called, “The Rise of Revolutionary Guards’ Financial Empire” describes how IRGC pays for its terrorists’ plans in the region and was introduced last week in Washington. The U.S. representative office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) held a press conference about the new book.
Ambassador Adam Ereli said in the conference:
the book shows that 50 percent of Iran’s GDP is in the hands of regime’s leader and the organizations under his control, primarily the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), which uses the government assets for financing of terrorism abroad and repression at home.
Sadly the Obama administration did not realize that unfreezing Iranian assets following the nuclear deal would automatically end up in Syria, Yemen and Iraq to bankroll IRGC and Quds Force build up in the more vulnerable areas in the region such as Aleppo. The regime in Iran neither has nor is willing to spend a dime on problems ordinary citizens have in Iran. Iranian citizen in southwestern Iran are simply dying of air pollution and dust storms. The only money ever spent is to upgrade and modernize weapons for suppressive security forces in the country.
In the course of past four decades that the mullahs are ruling Iran one fact remains unchanged that Iranian regime would never change its behavior. It has ruled with an Iron fist at home and unlashed IRGC and Quds Force on its neighbors in the region. It may, from time to time, depending on which US administration is in the White House somewhat changed course to avoid direct confrontation. The time has certainly come to take concert actions to stop this regime. The place to start is indeed blacklisting the IRGC.
Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)
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