Researcher: Assad's call for help jibed with Iran's expansionist vision

Friday, July 24, 2020
 | 
J.M. Phelps (OneNewsNow.com)

Bashar Assad with Iranian parliament leaderAn Israeli nonprofit is sounding the alarm about the presence of Shiite militias operating in Syria – proxy groups that fit right into Iran's animosity toward the Jewish state.

An extensive research report* published by the Alma Research and Education Center was discussed with Major (Res.) Tal Beeri, the organization's director of research. Speaking to OneNewsNow, the former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officer explains some of the important findings and more.

Beeri says it is important to note that a heightened presence of Shiite militias began to appear in Syria between 2013 and 2014, fighting along Bashar al-Assad's troops at the peak of the civil war.

"In light of Al-Assad's army's difficulty in contending with the rebels," he points out, "Assad requested urgent assistance from his ally, Iran."

The request for assistance, he explains, was a good fit for Iran's "expansionist vision of a ground axis of influence" – which stretches from Iran to Beirut. What is more, Beeri adds, "the implementation of this vision is a central part of the expanding the Islamic revolution and the establishment of the 'Shiite ground axis' in opposition to Western countries, [like the United States]."

Iran's operational assistance was outlined in April 2013, resulting in a formal military presence in Syria. The former intelligence officer reveals that a "secret meeting" was held between Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khomeini and other Iranian officials, and Qassem Soleimani, leader of the Quds Force. Not only was Soleimani put in charge of implementing Iranian policy in Syria and Lebanon, Beeri points out, "it was also decided to deploy Shiite militias from Iran and Iraq to fight alongside the Syrian army."

Initially, the former intel officer indicates, "the goal of Iran's strategy of deploying the militias as its proxy was to change the face of the war, eventually bringing victory to Assad's regime."

"Today, after achieving victory, their task is to guard the Shiite ground axis that runs through Syria on its way to Lebanon," the research director explains. Both Hezbollah and the Shiite militias receive weapons and equipment through this axis.

"Another task is to support the Shiitization process that Iran implements in Syria and Lebanon, [which] is part of the expansion of the Islamic revolution." Interestingly, he adds, "the militias' presence in the field brings demographic changes and religious Shiite influence."

It is clear Shiite militias in Syria are a product of Iran, Beeri asserts. "Their establishment and training all the way to their guidance and leadership [extends from Iran]," he contends. He describes their origin as "diverse," hailing from places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Iran.

"Most of the combatants are recruited from populations of Shiite refugees who fled the ethnic persecution in their home countries and [moved] to Iran," he adds.

Clashes with Shiite militias are possible at Israel's northern border, and Beeri argues the IDF is prepared to contend with them. "[Acting alone], their quality as militias and level of professionalism do not concern the IDF, [nor do they] impose a strategic threat on Israel," he contends.

"However, the possibility of their involvement in a war will require the IDF to divert resources to neutralize them, spreading the IDF's resources and forces thin and diverting resources from the central battlefront with Hezbollah in Lebanon."

The primary threat to Israel remains Hezbollah in Lebanon, Beeri says, explaining that Hezbollah has "wide-scale operational abilities in Lebanon and in Syria," and the organization can be activated at any time upon receiving orders from Iran.

Should Hezbollah ever be fully activated against Israel, Beeri believes Iran will deploy its proxy organizations in the Middle East against Israel in order to support Hezbollah. He predicts Shiite militias in Syria and terror infrastructures near the Syrian border with Israel would be activated, including Syrian locals, other Shiite militias from Iraq, Hamas, and the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Even the Houthis from Yemen would likely participate by firing Iranian ballistic missiles to southern Israel, he adds.

 

* This report on the Shiite militias in Syria was written by Dr. Shimon Karmi, a senior researcher at Alma Center.


In photo above, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, speaks to Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, in Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. (SANA via AP)

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