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November 20, 2014 / 27 Heshvan, 5775
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Mordechai Kedar: Syria, Iraq, the Gulf, and the Iranian Octopus

Demonstrators march in support of Bashar al-Assad's regime

Demonstrators march in support of Bashar al-Assad's regime
Photo Credit: Matanya Tausig/Flash90

We have all been watching the horrific events occurring in Syria for more than a year now, and the media report all the time about conflicts between “Syrian security forces” on one side, and the “rebels”, the “opposition”, and the “Free Syrian Army” on the other. However, most of us are  unaware that the “Syrian security forces” include no small number of foreign soldiers, a true foreign legion, which came to Syria by order of their superiors in order to help Bishar Asad and his cronies remain in power at any price. The foreign soldiers who came to Syria to shore up the regime are mainly Lebanese members of Hizbullah and Iraqis who serve in special units composed entirely of Shiites, who are routinely used by Iran to carry out assassinations and attack missions.

In the beginning of April, the governments of Iraq and Syria signed an agreement to organize a patrol on the border between them, in the area of Dir A-Zur, in order to stop the flow of weapons and ammunition that the Sunni Iraqis send to their Sunni brothers in Syria, in order to stand up to the murderous attacks of the Alawite regime. The Syrian regime is especially fearful of the activists of “Al-Qaeda in the land of the rivers;” those who in the past, operated under the leadership of Abu Musab Al-zarqawi, and who might relocate the focus of their activities from Iraq to Syria, and turn their jihad against the Alawite infidels who are supported by the ‘Christian Russians’ and ‘Chinese idol worshipers.’

Iman Al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s successor and head of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, also declared a few weeks ago that it is the duty of every Muslim in the world to enlist in the holy jihad against the regime of infidels in Syria. These announcements harm the Syrian rebels very much, because they justify the claims of the regime that it is fighting not against peaceful citizens but against armed terror gangs. Organizations of the Syrian opposition have stated that they strongly object to the Al-Qaeda proclamations, and that their intention is to establish a democratic, civilian state in Syria, not a radical Islamic emirate.

In parallel, there are many reports of a large quantity of weapons that are streaming into the rebels’ hands, including those stolen from the munitions warehouses of the Syrian military. These weapons include mortars, heavy machine guns, anti-tank missiles, and even katyusha rockets, which will enable the Free Syrian Army to renew its attacks on the Syrian regime’s military bases and its units if and when – and apparently it will be very soon – it decides to renew the fighting, since it is now clear that the cease-fire exists only “on paper” in the possession of Kofi Anan. In the field, the regime continues to slaughter citizens, and dozens of them are killed every day of the “cease fire”.

The head spokesman of Sunni Islam, Sheikh Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has also joined the chorus that supports the Syrian rebels. He recently published a Fatwa forbidding the purchase of Russian and Chinese goods, due to Russia’s and China’s support for a regime that is murdering Sunni Muslims.

Iran is Very Worried

Iran watches all of these developments with great concern, fearing the fall of the regime in Damascus. Because if it does fall, then Iran’s whole sphere of influence in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and other places in the Arab world will collapse as well, as Syria is Iran’s springboard to them. Cue General Qassem Suleimani, one of the heads of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. It he who is responsible for the portfolio that includes Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. He enlisted Iraqi Shi’a militias who were trained, armed, and equipped in Iran in order to act against the American forces in Iraq, who have won for themselves the name “Asab ahl al-Haqiq” (“Teams of people of the Truth”), and commanded them to speed to Syria by way of Iraq to join forces with the Syrian military in the suppression of the Syrian rebellion. The operational battle experience of these militias, accumulated over hundreds of terror attacks carried out against Iraqi Sunnis, will be translated into similar “quality actions” against the Sunni rebels in Syria.

The head of this militia is “Abu Dara”, a Shi’a mass murderer and one of the commanders of the “death squads” that belong to Muqtada Al-Sadr’s “Mahdi Army”. Born in 1970, his real name is Ismail Hafeth Allami, and he served previously in the Iraqi army. After he joined the “Mahdi Army” in 2003 he was assigned to hunt down officers, pilots, intelligence people, and administrators who had served Saddam Hussein and the Baath party, and execute them without a trial. He took an active part in the mass attacks against Sunnis in Baghdad in order to rid the capital of the Sunnis and turn it into a Shi’ite city. In Islam, this act has very great significance, because for five hundred years, from 751 until 1258 CE, Baghdad was the capital of the Abbasid caliphate, which was established upon the skulls of the Shi’ites. The transformation of Baghdad to a Shi’ite city would be sweet revenge upon the Sunnis, who slaughtered Hussein bin Ali, the Shi’ite leader, in Karbala in the year 680 CE. And now, Abu Dara is sent to Syria in order to support Asad to continue ruling in Damascus, which was the capital of the Sunni Umayyad dynasty between 660 and 750. The minister of Islamic history is laughing all the way to the blood bank.

Iran’s ability to send Iraqis to fight on Asad’s side and bring the Iraqi government to cooperate with Syria in order to prevent the smuggling of weapons to the rebels may be the biggest strategic surprise in the world, and it is becoming clear that it is Iran who controls Iraq, that Iraq functions today according to the interests of Iran. After all of the Western blood and treasure that has been spent on Iraq since 2003, and after the elimination of the bloodthirsty dictator who once ruled, this torn and divided country has clearly fallen like ripe fruit into the hands of the Ayatollahs of Qum. It can be said ironically that Iran is the big winner in the war of the West against Saddam. Iran achieved this position even while the Americans were still in Iraq, but were too frightened to act decisively against Iran.

In Iraq the Americans had a trove of information regarding the involvement of the Guardians of the Revolution and Iranian Intelligence in Iraq since 2003. The Americans were able to get their hands on lots of standard equipment, weapons, and ammunition that had been smuggled from Iran into Iraq and used in the guerrilla war led by people like Abu Dara, and militias such as the “Mahdi Army” against the forces of the coalition. Thousands of coalition soldiers were killed and wounded in Iraq by these smuggled armaments. Despite all of this, the United States and the coalition never dared to place the responsibility on Iran for killing coalition soldiers, fearing such statements would obligate them to act against Iran within Iran’s territory, while they had to continue to protect themselves against Iranian attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Iranian regime realized the Western lack of determination, and increased the attacks upon coalition soldiers, in order to force the members of the coalition to declare one after another that they were withdrawing from the hopeless war, the treacherous swamp called Iraq. Finally, the United States also retreated from Iraq, and left that hemorrhaging country to the whims of the Ayatollahs, who do with it as they please – if it suits them, they launch attacks against Sunnis, or they allow the Arab League summit to meet in Baghdad and create the appearance of a free, liberated and serene Iraq, so that they can sneak the representatives of the five permanent members of the Security Council (plus Germany) into Baghdad in order to extort from them more concessions and buy more precious time for the development of their military nuclear program.

Iran, suffering a difficult economic crisis and severe deterioration in the value of its currency because of the international sanctions, has found an easy way to support the collapsing Syrian economy: pressure Iraq to supply Asad with cash to pay his military. Iran demanded from Nouri Al-Maliki, prime minister of Iraq, that Iraq supply oil to Syria, so that it can fuel the tanks and armored personnel carriers that shoot death bombs into the residential neighborhoods of Homs, Idlib, and Dar’a. The payment for these services will reach when the hidden Mahdi returns to the world…

There are reports that Iraq is acquiring equipment that Iran is forbidden to acquire. And after this equipment arrives in Iraq, it is transferred to Iran. This includes equipment and materials used in the infrastructures for oil and gas production, petro-chemical industries, and factories that manufacture fertilizer and medicines. The concern is that Iran uses this equipment and material in order to produce chemical weapons,which is why the countries of the world are forbidden to sell these items to Iran. Iraq serves as a legal cover for this Iranian acquisition. It may be that Iraq also acquires instrumentation and metals that are used in the weapons industries in order to transfer them to Iran.

The Gulf is Burning

Along with the Iranian takeover of Iraq, Iran has also succeeded in frightening the states of the [Persian] Gulf to death by tightening the Shi’ite noose: Shi’ite communities, which are found in all of the states of the Gulf, serve as an Iranian fifth column. These communities undermine the internal stability in Iraq, and especially in Bahrain – the monarchy that is situated on an island opposite the coast of Saudi Arabia. This monarchy has mostly Shi’ite residents, but is ruled by the Sunni minority. And on this island-kingdom is situated the main U.S. naval base in the Persian Gulf. The goal of undermining Bahrain’s stability is to force the ruling family to demand that the Americans leave, as happened when the Saudis eliminated the American air base in Dhahran, eastern Saudi Arabia, in order to silence the Al-Qaeda propagandists that claimed the House of Saud was collaborating with the modern crusaders from America who had contaminated the land of the two holiest places to Islam. Eliminating the air base also served to deprive Iran of an excuse to incite the Shi’ite residents against the Saud family.

Iran is increasing its hold on the Gulf by emphasizing its control of the three islands that it conquered in the days of the Shah, Lesser Tunab, Greater Tunab, and Abu Moussa. Last week Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited the Iranian base that was established on the island of Abu Moussa, provoking strong reactions in the Gulf states, which view it as the first steps in Iran’s bid to takeover the Straight of Hormuz and other islands in the Gulf.

The fear of Iran harbored within the citizens of the Gulf states has increased in recent times as a result of the success Iran has experienced in buying time in the negotiations with the West over its nuclear program. Increasingly, the states of the Gulf are convinced that the West, which is now very deservedly seen as weak and flimsy, will not succeed in deterring Iran from taking practical steps against the Gulf states. Lately a discussion was held in the Kuwaiti parliament on the question of whether Kuwait should object to a possible future conquest of Kuwait by Iran or perhaps it would be preferable to surrender and accept it, because in any case, the West will not repeat the war of 1991, when Kuwait was liberated from the claws of Saddam. Needless to say, Kuwait does not not possess even the most minimal ability to stand up to an Iranian conquest; Iran would need only a few hours in order to conquer Kuwait, and would encounter little resistance.

However, Iran has no need to take dramatic military action against its Arab neighbors West of the Gulf. It would be enough to take “soft” steps in order to bring them under the umbrella of its hegemony: elimination of an Emir here, buying off an Emir there, frightening a sheikh in one principality, a terror attack in a banking center, bringing down an office tower, a fire in an oil installation, sinking a ship of the Coast Guard or an act that bears Iran’s signature will suffice to frighten the smug billionaires into thinking that it’s better to cooperate quietly with their Eastern neighbor who has become Iraq’s “landlord”. This would be far preferable than Iraq’s fate, as they would be able to hold on to the billions of petro-dolalrs in their accounts in Switzerland or other tax shelters.

The rich people of the Gulf have never been great fans of their countries, because had they really wanted to preserve the character of their societies they would not have flooded the principalities with millions of foreign workers and business people, who have subsequently turned the citizens of the states of the Gulf into small minorities in their own states. And if they have sold out their countries in order to increase their personal wealth, why would they rebel against Iran? They have never had a real military force capable of defending them, and the security forces in the Gulf states are composed of foreign soldiers, usually from Bangladesh or Balochistan. Will these foreign soldiers fight and put their lives on the line for a state that is not theirs?

The only state in the Arabian Peninsula that perhaps may have some success in coping with Iran is Saudi Arabia, however, the operational skills of its military forces are dubious since they have never fought a real war on a national scale. From time to time in the past they were involved in border disputes with Yemen or Iraq, and performed an aerial bombing here or an artillery shelling there, but never in an actual war. It is reasonable to assume that without massive support from the United States, even the Saudis would not survive a war with Iran. A takeover of Saudi Arabia is especially attractive for the Iranians, because with Saudi Arabia, the holy places of Mecca and Medina would fall into their hands, and so the Shi’ites would again control Islam as it did in the days of the fourth Caliph, Ali Bin Abi Talib, the founder of Shi’a Islam. Plus, all the achievements of the Sunnis since the middle of the seventh century would be erased and it would be as if they never happened. And very sweet indeed would be the Persian revenge on the Bedouins, who left the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century and destroyed the Sassanid Persian Empire.

This geo-strategic balance between Iran and the Gulf, which is clearly tipped toward Iran, turns the Gulf into easy prey for the Iranian conquest machinery. The political and economic gains that would accrue for Iran from seizing control of oil reserves in the Gulf, together with those that are hidden in the ground of Iraq, are tremendous. Iran would become the controlling state of the greatest quantity of oil and gas in the world, something that would buy it the ability to play with the prices at its whim, in a way that could bring down states with poor economies like Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland. And in order to placate Iran, everyone could be offered as a potential sacrifice to the Ayatollahs, including Israel. Therefore, Iran, as it sees itself, does not need to attack Israel, because the West will shun the Zionist entity anyway, and abandon her to her fate, and she will certainly fall.

On the other hand, Israel is not an oil or gas superpower (yet), and therefore getting mixed up with Israel serves no useful purpose for Iran. The damage that Israel might cause to Iran could be fatal, according to the “copy and paste” rumors that claim that Israel has between 200 and 300 nuclear warheads. I don’t know if Israel has even one, but on the Internet there are reports about hundreds. Moreover, Israel has proved in Lebanon (2006) and in Gaza (2008-9) that sometimes it loses its cool and fights back “disproportionately.” The Iranians fear that it may be too dangerous to mix with a state that may have between 200 and 300 nuclear warheads and sometimes loses its cool, and in comparison to the Gulf, nothing good will come of war with her. Therefore, in my opinion, Israel will not appear on Iran’s list of targets, at least not among the primary ones. The states of the Gulf are on this list, though, whether because of the profits that Iran can reap from conquering them, or because of the low price that Iran would pay for conquering. Israel is on the list of secondary targets, together with Turkey, North Africa, and Europe.

Israel understands this consideration and so – in my opinion – there is no immediate reason for, and therefore no chance of, an Israeli military strike. Iran is a far greater problem for the Gulf – and the world at large – than it is for Israel. Israel will not sacrifice itself on the altar of the Ayatollahs in order to rescue the Gulf and the world from the Iranian problem. The Iranians also do not believe that there is a real argument between Dagan, Barak, and Netanyahu about attacking Iran. They are sure that this whole public argument conducted in Israel’s media is intended only to ring the world’s alarm bells and wake the napping Europeans as well as those sleeping in the White House, and that actually, Dagan, Barak, and Netanyahu have divided up the work between them, like “the good cop and the bad cop”. Since when does Israel conduct a public discussion about a military plan?

And speaking of short-term goals, there is another strategic goal that Iran is planning to implement in the near future: Afghanistan, its neighbor to the East. The moment that the foreign forces leave this failing country too, Iran will take control of it using its well-known methods – murder, terror, bribery, and fear – and all the treasures of Afghanistan will fall into the hands of Iran, exactly as it happened in Iraq. This takeover would also be a delicious historical plum for the Iranians, who will have succeeded in conquering a country that the British, Russians, and Americans, each in their own turn and time, failed miserably in attempting to conquer and exploit.

And when Iran obtains nuclear weapons it will succeed in intimidating the world, it will complete its takeover of the Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and will continue its journey westward to Egypt and North Africa, Israel, Turkey, and Europe.

Syria today is the key to the future of Iran: if Asad’s regime survives, Iran will be encouraged and will continue with its global octopus-like plan; and if Asad collapses, Iran’s progress westward will be halted and it may sink into internal dissension over who is to blame for the failure in Syria. These disagreements may split the ruling class and bring it to total collapse. Therefore, for Iran, the war over Syria is critical, with an element of “to be or not to be,” which explains the massive Iranian investment in the shoring up of Asad.

Whoever wants to bring  Iran down must support those rebelling against Asad. Erdogan in Turkey, King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Hamed al-Thani in Qatar, and King Abdullah in Amman have understood the matter and what they are doing for the rebels in Syria may save them and the Gulf from the Iranian octopus. The question is how much time will it take for the sleeping Europeans and the dreamers in the White House to understand the reality of this complicated Middle East, and when will they begin to take action in order to bring Iran down?

Originally published at http://israelagainstterror.blogspot.com/2012/04/mordechai-kedar-syria-iraq-gulf-and.html

About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.


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