Why are Jroud Arsal significant to Iran?
By : Huda al-Husseini
:: Hezbollah fought and negotiated with al-Nusra Front and then swapped prisoners and corpses. As if what happened is in a state other than Lebanon but it’s in fact Lebanon and we’re particularly reminded of that when we recall how Hezbollah said it will not fight ISIS but it will let the Lebanese army perform the task. Hezbollah however decides when to fight its battles and imposes certain battles on the Lebanese army.
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah said he dedicates the victory to Lebanon and the Lebanese people. He knows that no one is with al-Nusra or ISIS. We’re grateful to anyone who saves Lebanon and the Lebanese people from these groups but why don’t we believe that this battle was for Lebanon’s sake? What’s the role of linking Jroud Arsal to Qalamoun?
Where will Iran’s land bridge to reach the Mediterranean Sea pass through? A Hezbollah official said during a tour with the press: “We will hand Jroud Arsal to the Lebanese army once it’s capable because it has the battle of confronting (ISIS).”
Is it a coincidence that Iran’s supreme guide Ayatollah Khamenei’s website published a video of Hezbollah members in Lebanon with Nasrallah standing at the podium as they cheered “We are the sons of Khomeini” and of Hezbollah members in front of Khomeini’s shrine as they chanted “We are the sons of the Khamenei” as Khamenei himself saluted them?
It seems Iran is using these militias in sectarian and geopolitical wars while pitting the states and Shiite militias it supports against Sunni blocs in Sunni countries.
The video was captioned: “Following the divine victory achieved by the Resistance’s arms in Jroud Arsal, we, for the first time broadcast, a video of Hezbollah youths.”
Jroud Arsal is very far from Iran but it’s very important especially that the timing of the battle came amid the Palestinians’ defense of Al-Aqsa. At the beginning of the “victory speech,” Nasrallah only saluted them and the Houthis and then saluted the Lebanese army.
Iran established Hezbollah in Lebanon and then formed other armed Shiite militias in order for its “land bridge” to extend from Tehran to Lebanon, Israel’s border, Jordan and eventually to the Gulf of Aden. It seems Iran is using these militias in sectarian and geopolitical wars while pitting the states and Shiite militias it supports against Sunni blocs in Sunni countries.
The Arab Spring
In the summer of 2011, at the beginning of the Arab Spring, hundreds of Lebanese and Syrian youths gathered in the Bekaa valley and were militarily trained by Hezbollah. Lebanese journalist Fidaa al-Itaani who was back then a supporter of the group spoke about his experience to BuzzFeed.
The report detailed how “after witnessing the spectacle in the Bekaa Valley that day in 2011, Itaani asked a contact in Hezbollah’s intelligence unit why so many men were being trained so aggressively. Were they preparing for another war against Israel, he wondered. ‘We are training them in everything,’ Itaani said the Hezbollah official told him. ‘Municipal governance, self-defense, religion, how to use the infrastructure of the state, electricity, water, civil defense.’
‘Assad may leave,” he described his contact as saying. ‘If so we will take a small part of Syria. If he wins, we will take all of Syria.’”
Iran is the victim of the sectarian division policy which Ayatollah Khomeini paved way for. The sectarian extremism policy emerged with Khomeini’s rise in 1979 when he raised the slogan of exporting the revolution to Islamic states and sought to remove geographic borders. To achieve this aim, Khomeini needed a military power with a strong basis in Tehran to continue to expand in the region.
He did not trust the regular army and executed most of its prominent officers. The Revolutionary Guards was thus established as a military tool to suppress others and protect the governance of the jurist and develop the Islamic revolution according to Khomeini’s agenda.
The Revolutionary Guard’s system stipulates that it is an institution which is under the command of the supreme guide and it ideologically and politically submits to it. It’s also well-known that the Revolutionary Guards has two tasks. The first one is internal and it includes suppressing protests and assigning thousands of the Basij members to spy on people on a daily basis, monitor the internet and satellite dishes and hack public, private and regional companies and supervise what audiovisual and audio media outlets broadcast.
The second one is foreign in which the guards target those who defected from the regime outside Iran and target other countries. The revolutionary guards had carried out terrorist operations to demonstrate its strength. It blew up the Marines headquarters in Beirut and the headquarters of French troops.
It was responsible for blowing up a Jewish center in Argentina and for the Khobar explosions in Saudi Arabia in 1996. This is in addition to terrorist operations in other countries as perpetrators were caught most of the time and their ties to the Revolutionary Guards have been exposed.
Since what empowers the Revolutionary Guards is exporting the revolution, the Quds Brigade was established. Its task is to recruit, educate and organize groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon. The guards’ relations with extremist Sunni groups have been strong since the 1990’s and many of these groups’ leaders, including al-Qaeda, were transferred to Iraq and Syria after these countries hosted the Quds Brigade for years.
The invasion of Iraq in 2003 gave the Iranian regime a chance to get close to achieving its aim of expanding sectarian division and extremism. The invasion brought the Iraqi al-Qaeda from which ISIS branched. Both groups reflect the sectarianism of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Former President Barack Obama’s policy of appeasement was exploited by Tehran to intervene in the Middle East.
An observer of the Iranian strategy said the Iranian regime’s main goal is create a crisis and maintain instability through the Quds Brigade and the Revolutionary Guards’ branches. The Quds Brigade headed by Qassem Soleimani controls dozens of Shiite militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The complex of the Iranian-Iraqi war still controls Soleimani’s strategies and orientations. All the armed groups and militias which Iran establishes and deploys will not make Soleimani realize that the Iraqi army stood against exporting the revolution and even crossed the borders and entered Iranian territories.
The price of war
On July 10, Soleimani said that the Iraqi army is on its way to embrace Iran’s ideology. Since the Iranian-Iraqi war obstructed the project to export the revolution, he revealed how he thinks diplomacy does not solve anything. He said: “We resort to diplomacy sometimes but some problems, especially big ones, cannot be resolved via diplomacy.”
Iran lets Rowhani and Zarif keep the West busy with the nuclear and missiles program but the real governors in Iran have their eyes on Arab countries and plan to hijack authority there and seize control of their armies, trade and economies.
Iran spends money on its foreign strategy in Arab countries in hopes that it will reconstruct the countries which militias helped destroy. Therefore, it spends very little – almost nothing – on general services inside Iran. On July 10, Iranian President Hassan Rowhani said that “amid the international sanctions, the country’s economic situation is at the disposal of the war machine in Iraq and Syria. Some people think it’s just a sacrifice but they do not ask who pays the wages and bears the cost of arms.”
Tehran’s former mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi wondered why Iran sends fighters to the region and said: “We want peace in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen but can’t this be achieved unless by providing money and arms? Can’t this be achieved unless through murder and harm?”
Let’s go back to Lebanon, Hezbollah chose the timing of its battle with al-Nusra at the same time as Al-Aqsa revolution and during summer which is the tourist season. The Lebanese army almost turned into a protector of Hezbollah. It’s true that it brought down black banners but Lebanon will continue to defy whoever tampers with its stability and traditions. The festivals of joy will continue to dominate. There will not be silence or submission and the arenas in our cities and squares will not be emptied.
:: Huda al-Husseini is a political writer who focuses on Middle East geopolitics.
:: Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in the Column section are their own and do not reflect RiyadhVision’s point-of-view.