The organization is operational in Cyprus, Thailand and India. Yet Syria appears to have jumped to the top of Iran’s foreign interests.
“Syria is on the frontlines of the jihad against Israel, together with Lebanon. Being in Syria is critical to fighting against Israel,” Shapira said.
According to the JCPA report, “Tehran has had political ambitions with respect to Syria for years.”
The report points out that “In the past, senior Iranian officers, like Major General Yahya Rahim-Safavi, the former commander of the Revolutionary Guards who is an adviser to Khamenei, have said Lebanon and Syria gave Iran ‘strategic depth.’ Now it appears Tehran is taking this a step further, preparing for a ‘Plan B’ in the event Assad falls.”
Citing another example, Shapira writes, “An important expression of Syria’s centrality in Iranian strategy was voiced by Mehdi Taaib, who heads [Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei’s think tank. He recently stated that ‘Syria is the 35th district of Iran and it has greater strategic importance for Iran than Khuzestan (an Arab-populated district inside Iran).’ “
Should Iran succeed in its efforts to assert greater influence in Syria, the consequences, said Shapira, will be felt across the region.