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Opponent terrorists, lack of communication, a war in the making

Mehdi Dehnavi



The Islamic Revolution and Iran’s efforts to participate actively in the region through the Revolutionary Guards

The Iranian revolution was always the source of major changes in the Middle East‏. One of the main goals of this revolution and its leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, was to spread this revolution across other Middle Eastern countries, with the purpose of establishing other Islamic and non-dictatorial regimes in the region.

A goal, which formed the basis for inviting the Iraqi people and army to revolt against Saddam Hussein‏. Thus, not only did it spark fears in the Middle East, Arab countries and their oligarchic governments, but it also persuaded them to equip themselves against a potential insurgency of their people against their own governments and the newly established Islamic State in Iran.

One of their actions was aimed at gaining a closer approach to the United States, which, following the Iran hostage crisis‏, it was now fully in line with the Arab dictatorial regimes in confronting the Iranian regime. By enabling the US to have many military bases across their territories, they provided the conditions for a wider US military presence in the region‏. Meanwhile, Iran was also expanding its influence across some countries of the region, using the potential of the Shiite populations and Pro-revolutionary groups.

The emergence of serious regional tensions of the IRGC with the Americans

The starting point of the game, being Iran opposing the presence of the Americans in the Middle East, ultimately led to regional tensions between Iran and the United States, therefore, IRGC, in addition to the task of guarding the achievements of the Islamic Revolution and, of course, the destruction of the State of Israel, was now obliged to export that revolution to other countries in the region and to be at the forefront of confronting US forces.

For instance, the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings, which killed more than 200 officers and soldiers from the US and French military forces, were believed to be an attack traceable to Hezbollah, according to the Americans, which is a militant and political group originated in Lebanon in 1982 and established by IRGC.

Other examples include the establishment, political, financial and logistical support of groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestine Liberation Organization, Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Fatah, al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Kata’ib Hezbollah, Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, Popular Mobilization Forces, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, Badr Organization, Liwa Fatemiyoun, Liwa Zainebiyoun and etc., which operate in Iraq and Syria and act against the US and its allies in the region, as well as the confrontation of the IRGC’s speedboats with the American warships in the Persian Gulf.  It is worth remembering the 2016 U.S. – Iran naval incident. These confrontations, forty years after the Islamic Revolution of Iran and the establishment of the IRGC, were not always hostile. There have been numerous instances of secret relations with the Americans, namely, the Iran-Contra affair, Indirect cooperation with the Americans in support of Bosnian Muslims in the Bosnian war between 1992 and 1995, direct cooperation during the US invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, Indirect cooperation in Iraq against ISIS, especially in the Battle of Mosul (2016-2017), etc., all appearing in the work of this revolutionary institution.

Designating IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO)

Given all of the above, as well as the changing political situation in the region, especially during the post-ISIS era, which we are currently witnessing with the defeat of radical Sunni Islamist groups as ISIS; it is understandably challenging for America and its regional allies to tolerate and accept a radical Shiite force that wants to control all Middle Eastern developments, supporter of Shiite movements in the Sunni kingdoms of the region, creator of several political-military groups in the latter, such as Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc., provider of political, financial and logistical support, and sensitive to the presence of the United States and its western allies in the region, and for this purpose, if necessary, even cooperates with the Taliban and al-Qaeda and assassins leaders of internal opposition groups outside Iran, as the Iranian-Kurdish opposition leaders of the PDKI, assassinated at the Mykonos Greek restaurant in Berlin (The Mykonos restaurant assassinations). Therefore, United States for the first time, by designating the name of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the list of foreign terrorist organizations, in addition to ignoring the sovereignty of the Iranian regime, it is trying to convey the message that the Iranian government and its military arm abroad (Quds Force), are actively involved in terrorist activities.

Increasing the risk of occurrence of war in the region

What is your first anticipation of a confrontation between the two enemy troops regarding each other as a terrorist? Truth, it is likely to be a direct or proxy war, particularly in those areas where we are able to witness a military presence of both countries and no communication channels have been considered for preventing a war. No doubt, the prediction of war is not so simple, as, in previous years, Iran has always preferred silence to retaliation and counterattack against Israeli bombings across its bases in Syria. Tehran’s leaders may go to the extent of using this strategic silence against any potential American attacks. The reason for this would be the very low social capital of the Iranian regime inside the country. However, no government can fight both the foreign enemy and its people. However, it can be argued that if Tehran wants to counteract it, it has several options in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf. For example, if Tehran decides to have a military response to this designation, thousands of the United States military forces in the region, especially in Iraq and Syria, near the militias organized by the IRGC or its main personnel, could be targeted. At the same time, it is likely that the US will reciprocate. For the reason already mentioned, it is very difficult to control a cycle of action without any communication channels.

Mehdi Dehnavi is a UK based Middle Eastern affairs analyst with a focus on Iranian Political Development, Kurdish Issue, Islamic Fundamentalism, Terrorism & Counterterrorism, US Politics, NPT, Disarmament and Arms Control. His articles have been published by several journals and news agencies including Sputnik International, The Diplomatist, Diplomacy & Beyond Plus and The Russian International Affairs Council.

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Middle East

Israeli contrasts: Likud’s favoured soccer teams veers left as Bibi turns further right

Dr. James M. Dorsey



The contrast could not be starker. As Israel plays a dangerous game of US politics by restricting or banning visits by controversial Democratic members of Congress to seemingly please President Donald J. Trump’s prejudiced electoral instincts, the owner of a notorious Jerusalem soccer club draws a line in the sand in confronting his racist fan base.

The contrast takes on added significance as prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu woes Israel’s far-right in advance of elections on September 17 given that storied club Beitar Jerusalem has long been seen as a stronghold for his Likud party.

Mr. Netanyahu’s barring of Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar was as much a response to Mr. Trump’s tweeted suggestion that they should not be allowed to visit Israel as it was catering to his right-wing base that includes Beitar’s fans.

Beitar is the only Israeli squad to have never hired a Palestinian player. Its fans, famous for their racist slogans and bullying tactics, have made life impossible for the few Muslim players that the club contracted in its history.

Messrs. Netanyahu and Moshe Hogeg, the Beitar owner and tech entrepreneur who founded social mobile photo and video sharing website Mobli and crypto transactions platform Sirin Labs, are both treading on slippery ground.

Mr. Netanyahu, who initially raised out of respect for the US Congress no objection to the planned visit by Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar, has ensured that Israel for the first time in decades can no longer be sure of bi-partisan support in the Congress and beyond and is likely to become a partisan issue in the run-up to next year’s US presidential election.

His pandering to Mr. Trump sparked rare criticism from the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC), Israel’s most powerful and influential lobby in the United States even though AIPAC agrees that Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Ilham support the Boycott, Diversification and Sanctions (BDS) movement that targets Israel.

“We disagree with Reps. Omar and Tlaib’s support for the anti-Israel and anti-peace BDS movement, along with Rep. Tlaib’s calls for a one-state solution. We also believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel first hand,” AIPAC tweeted.

A breakdown of bi-partisan support for Israel may not be what Mr. Netanyahu wants, but it may be, in a twist of irony, what Israel needs. It would spark a debate in the United States with a potential fallout in Israel about whether Mr. Netanyahu’s annexationist policy and hard-line approach towards Palestinian aspirations serves Israel’s longer-term best interests.

Israel’s toughening stand was evident on Tuesday when police broke up an annual soccer tournament among Palestinian families in East Jerusalem on assertions that it was sponsored by the Palestinian Authority, which is barred from organizing events in the city. The tournament’s organizer denied any association with the Authority.

In a dismissive statement, Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan’s office scoffed: “We’re talking about scofflaws who lie and blame the agency that enforces the law when they know full well that the Palestinian Authority is involved in the event that Minister Erdan ordered halted.”

The incident was emblematic of an environment that prompted columnist and scholar Peter Beinart, writing in The Forward, a more than 100-year old, left-wing Jewish weekly, to argue that “the United States has a national interest in ensuring that Israel does not make permanent its brutal occupation of the West Bank and blockade of the Gaza Strip.

By taking on La Familia, a militant Beitar Jerusalem fan group that has driven the club’s discriminatory policy, Mr. Hogeg is going not only against Mr. Netanyahu’s policies that emphasize Israeli Jewish nationalism at the expense of the rights of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship as well as those subject to occupation.

He is also challenging a global trend spearheaded by civilizational leaders like Indian prime minister Narendra Modi who, two weeks after depriving Kashmiri Muslims of their autonomy, is planning to build detention camps for millions of predominantly Muslim Indians suspected of being foreign migrants, Victor Orban who envisions a Muslim-free Hungary, and Xi Jinping who has launched in China’s troubled, north-western province of Xinjiang the most frontal assault on Islam in recent history

The degree of polarization and alienation that civilizational policies like those of Messrs Netanyahu, Modi, Xi and Orban is highlighted by the fact that Mr. Hogeg’s battle with his fans is over a name.

Ali Mohammed is Beitar Jerusalem’s latest acquisition. The only Muslim thing about him is his name. Mr. Mohammed is a Nigerian Christian.

That wasn’t good enough for the fans who demand that he change his name. During Mr. Mohammed’s first training session fans chanted “Mohamed is dead” and “Ali is dead.”

Unlike his predecessors, Mr. Hogeg seems unwilling to back down. He has threatened to sue the fans for tarnishing Beitar’s already battered reputation and demand up to US$500,000 in damages. Lawyers for Mr. Hogeg have written to fans demanding an apology.

“They are very good fans; they are very loyal. They love the club and what it represents … but they’re racist and that’s a big problem,” Mr. Hogeg said.

Convinced that the militants are a minority that imposes its will on the majority of Beitar fans, Mr. Hogeg takes the high road at a time that the likes of him threaten to become an endangered species.

“I was surprised to find that Mohamed is not Muslim, but I don’t care. Why should it matter? He’s a very good player. As long as the player that comes respects the city, respects what he represents, respects Israel, can help the team and wants to play then the door will be open. If those radical fans will fight against it, they will lose. They will simply lose,” Mr. Hogeg said.

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Middle East

“Today Saudi Arabia finally lost the war on Yemen.”

Eric Zuesse



On August 17th, an anonymous German intelligence analyst who has perhaps the world’s best track-record of publicly identifying and announcing historical turning-points, and who is therefore also a great investigative journalist regarding international relations (especially military matters, which are his specialty) headlined at his “Moon of Alabama” blog, “Long Range Attack On Saudi Oil Field Ends War On Yemen”, and he opened:

Today Saudi Arabia finally lost the war on Yemen. It has no defenses against new weapons the Houthis in Yemen acquired. These weapons threaten the Saudis economic lifelines. This today was the decisive attack:

Drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked a massive oil and gas field deep inside Saudi Arabia’s sprawling desert on Saturday, causing what the kingdom described as a “limited fire” in the second such recent attack on its crucial energy industry.  …

The Saudi acknowledgement of the attack came hours after Yahia Sarie, a military spokesman for the Houthis, issued a video statement claiming the rebels launched 10 bomb-laden drones targeting the field in their “biggest-ever” operation. He threatened more attacks would be coming. 

New drones and missiles displayed in July 2019 by Yemen’s Houthi-allied armed forces

Today’s attack is a check-mate move against the Saudis. Shaybah is some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from Houthi-controlled territory. There are many more important economic targets within that range.  …

The attack conclusively demonstrates that the most important assets of the Saudis are now under threat. This economic threat comes on top of a seven percent budget deficit the IMF predicts for Saudi Arabia. Further Saudi bombing against the Houthi will now have very significant additional cost that might even endanger the viability of the Saudi state. The Houthi have clown prince Mohammad bin Salman by the balls and can squeeze those at will.

He went on to say that the drones aren’t from Iran but are copies from Iran’s, “assembled in Yemen with the help of Hizbullah experts from Lebanon.”

He has been predicting for a long time that this war couldn’t be won by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud (MbS). In the present report, he says:

The war on Yemen that MbS started in March 2015 long proved to be unwinnable. Now it is definitely lost. Neither the U.S. nor the Europeans will come to the Saudis help. There are no technological means to reasonably protect against such attacks. Poor Yemen defeated rich Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi side will have to agree to political peace negotiations. The Yemeni demand for reparation payments will be eye watering. But the Saudis will have no alternative but to cough up whatever the Houthi demand.

The UAE was smart to pull out of Yemen during the last months.

If he is correct (and I have never yet found a prediction from him turn out to have been wrong), then this will be an enormous blow to the foreign markets for U.S.-made weapons, since the Sauds are the world’s largest foreign purchasers of those, and have spent profusely on them — and also on U.S. personnel to train their soldiers how to use them. So (and this is my prediction, not his), August 19th might be a good time to sell short U.S. armament-makers such as Lockheed Martin.

However: his prediction that “the Saudis will have no alternative but to cough up whatever the Houthi demand” seems to me to be the first one from him that could turn out to have been wrong. If the Sauds have perpetrated, say, $200 billion of physical damage to Yemen, but refuse to pay more than $100 billion in reparations, and the Housis then hit and take out a major Saudi oil well, isn’t it possible that the Sauds would stand firm? But if they do, then mightn’t it be wrong to say, at the present time, that: “Today Saudi Arabia finally lost the war on Yemen.”? He has gone out on limbs before, and I can’t yet think of any that broke under him. Maybe this one will be the first? I wouldn’t bet on that. But this one seems to me to be a particularly long limb. We’ll see!

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Middle East

The message behind the release of Iranian oil tanker

Mohammad Ghaderi



The Gibraltar court ordered the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 to be released. The tanker was seized by the British Royal Marines about a month ago. 

This verdict was the ending of an elaborate game designed by John Bolton National Security Advisor of the United States and Mike Pompeo, carried out by the Britain government. 

With seizing the tanker, Bolton was trying to put psychological and political pressures on Iran and force other countries to form a consensus against Iran, but he couldn’t fulfill any of these goals. 

Iran’s firm, logical and wise answer to the seizure of Grace 1 (like making solid legal arguments) and the seriousness of our country’s armed forces in giving a proper response to Britain’s contemptuous act, made the White House lose the lead on reaching its ends. 

Washington imagined that the seizure of Grace 1 will become Trump’s winning card against Iran, but the release of the tanker (despite disagreement of the U.S.) became another failure for the White House in dealing with Iran.  

Obviously, London was also a total loser in this game. It is worth noting that U.S. was so persistent about keeping the oil tanker in custody that John Bolton traveled to London and insisted on British officials to continue the seizure of the ship. Their failure, however, clearly shows that the White House and its traditional ally, Britain, have lost a big part of their power in their relations with Iran. 

Clearly, the illegal seizure of the Iranian oil tanker by Britain proceeded by the seizure of a British tanker by Iran and the following interactions between the two countries is not the whole story and there is more to it that will be revealed in coming days. 

What we know for sure is that London has to pay for its recent anti-Iran plot in order to satisfy Washington; the smallest of these consequences was that Britain lost some of its legal credibility in international arena as it illegally captured an Iranian oil tanker. 

The order of the Gibraltarian court revealed that London had no legal right to seize the Iranian oil tanker and nobody can defend this unlawful action. Surely, Iran will take all necessary legal actions to further pursue the matter.  

In this situation, the Islamic Republic of Iran is firm on its position that it doesn’t have to follow the sanctions imposed by the European Union on other countries (including Syria). 

No entity can undermine this argument as it is based on legal terms; therefore, Iran will keep supporting Syrian nation and government to fight terrorism. This is the strategic policy of the Islamic Republic and will not be changed under the pressure or influence of any other third country. 

Finally, it should be noted that the release of Grace 1 oil tanker was not only a legal and political failure for Washington and London and their allies but it was also a strategic failure. Undoubtedly, the vast consequences of this failure will be revealed in near future. 

From our partner Tehran Times

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