by Yaakov Lappin
According to UN Security Council Resolution 1747, Iran is banned from trading in or sending weapons across, international borders. Yet, as the latest arms shipment intercepted by Israel shows, Iran systematically violates this resolution. Will diplomats prefer to look the other way?
In recent days, Israel's intelligence services and navy intercepted a cargo ship in the Red Sea, off the coast of Sudan and Eritrea, which was found to be carrying an Iranian weapons delivery to terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
Iran's attempt to get 40 powerful medium-range rockets, 180 mortar rounds, and nearly half a million bullets to Gazan terror groups like Islamic Jihad would have affected the security of millions of people in southern and central Israel.
The shipment serves as the latest example of the dangerous, destabilizing and violent foreign policy pursued by the Iranian regime.
Israeli naval commandos inspect one of the missiles found aboard the Klos-C cargo ship, which was found to be smuggling missiles from Iran to the Gaza strip, via Sudan, March 5, 2014. (Image source: Israel Defense Forces)
Under the leadership of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran is pursuing two utterly contradictory tracks when it comes to its dealings with the world:
On one hand, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani continues to engage the international community in a diplomatic process over Tehran's nuclear program. He has achieved many successes in a charm offensive designed to rebrand his country as a reasonable and more moderate international player.
Simultaneously, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and its overseas special operation unit, the Quds Force, are strengthening, financing, and arming terrorist organizations all over the Middle East.
With thousands of operatives active throughout the region and beyond, the Quds Force is following an ambitious program to arm Hezbollah, the murderous Assad regime in Syria, Shi'ite armed organizations in Iraq, and fanatical armed groups in Gaza.
A second function of the Quds Force is to subvert Sunni states that stand in the way of the Iranian agenda for Middle Eastern hegemony.
Iran is stirring up Shi'ite unrest in the Gulf state of Bahrain, supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen, and arming Sudan's repressive government.
In addition, the Quds Force promotes the spread of Khomenist ideology in an effort to "export" the Islamic Revolution as far and wide as possible.
The Quds Force, headed by a mastermind named Qassem Suleimani (who answers directly to Khamenei), uses banks and front companies to pay for and manufacture weapons, before attempting to transit them to proxies.
According to UN Security Council Resolution 1747, Iran is banned from trading in, or sending weapons across, international borders. Yet, as the latest arms shipment intercepted by Israel demonstrates, Iran systematically violates this resolution.
The Quds Force is a part of the IRGC, a vast organization that has some 130,000 members among its ranks. Its goal is to ensure the survival of Iran's Ayatollah regime. The IRGC is a parallel military power – it has its own air, ground, and navy forces, separate from the Iranian military.
When the regime feels the need brutally to suppress internal dissent, it can call the Basij (a volunteer paramilitary force that receives orders from the IRCG) and its two million volunteers to the streets of Iranian cities.
But Ayatollah Khamenei is now trying a new way of keeping the streets free of protesters by allowing Rouhani to pursue talks with the West. This, Khamenei evidently hopes, will put a lid on growing disquiet over the country's economic troubles, many of them caused by international sanctions.
At the same time, he is permitting the IRGC and Quds Force to continue their global terrorism exportation program -- an effort combatted around the clock by Israel's intelligence agencies. The intercepted weapons ship is just one of many arms transfer attempts being blocked by Israel.
Israeli defense officials describe these efforts as a "war between wars;" today, this mostly covert battle is a central component in maintaining Israeli security.
Israel's efforts rely on a range of classified intelligence means, and are highly impressive, but cannot stop all of the weapons Iran is sending to the region.
Will the international community take note of the latest example of Iran's attempt to put deadly weapons in the hands of war criminals in Gaza, who target Israeli civilians indiscriminately? Or will diplomats prefer to look the other way?
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