Iran's Quds Force, commanded by Qassem Soleimani, is in charge of Iran's extraterritorial operations, which include organizing, supporting, training, arming and financing Iran's predominantly Shiite militia groups in foreign countries; launching wars directly or indirectly via these proxies; fomenting unrest in other nations to advance Iran's ideological and hegemonic interests; attacking and invading cities and countries; and assassinating foreign political figures and prominent Iranian dissidents worldwide. Pictured: Qassem Soleimani. (Image source: Tasnim News [CC by 4.0])
It is astonishing that while the fundamentalist government of Iran continues to enjoy unchallenged power, and engages in whatever violent behavior it wishes, its apologists proclaim that peace and stability can still exist within the Middle East.
An honest analysis of acts of terrorism in the Middle East, and throughout the world, reveals that nearly every conflict, war, and tension in the Middle East, can be traced back to the Iranian government. Despite the illusion that those who would like to appease the Iranian leaders attempt to create, it is clear that the Iran, still racing toward nuclear-breakout capability, has no interest in peace.
In Yemen, Iranian authorities have empowered a militia group known as the Houthis. Tehran is actively supplying the militia with ammunition and continues to smuggle illicit weapons and technology into Yemen. According to a report by Reuters, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a key supporter and sponsor of the Houthis. The IRGC is also currently using a new route across the Gulf covertly to deliver arms shipments to the Houthis.
In Iraq, Iran's Quds Force exerts significant direct or indirect influence through a conglomerate of more than 40 militia groups, which operate under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). The Quds Force has also apparently found new sources of funding to evade current US sanctions.
The Quds Force is in charge of Iran's extraterritorial operations, which include organizing, supporting, training, arming and financing Iran's predominantly Shiite militia groups in foreign countries; launching wars directly or indirectly via these proxies; fomenting unrest in other nations to advance Iran's ideological and hegemonic interests; attacking and invading cities and countries; and assassinating foreign political figures and prominent Iranian dissidents worldwide.
The Quds Force has also infiltrated top security, political, intelligence and military infrastructures in Iraq. It makes decisions that should be made by Iraqi leaders and politicians. It has operatives and agents across the country. Already eight years ago, the head of Iran's Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani boasted to US General David Petraeus:
"You should know that I... control policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan. The ambassador in Baghdad is a Quds Force member. The individual who's going to replace him is a Quds Force member."
The Quds Force has also given birth to a supply of designated terrorist groups in Iraq, including Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq and Kata'ib Al-Imam Ali. Both use horrific tactics similar to those of ISIS, known for showing videos of beheadings and burning people. Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq has reportedly been receiving some $2 million a month from Iran. Many people believe that the blood of many innocents — including Iraqi women and children — are on the hands of the Quds Force.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah's decisions are made with the blessings and instructions of Iran's Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei and the senior generals of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). In particular, Tehran controls the financial, military, and political investments in the Lebanese group.
When the US was contemplating imposing sanctions on Hezbollah's financial dealings, its leader Hassan Nasrallah surprisingly admitted to the major role Iran plays:
"We are open about the fact that Hezbollah's budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, come from the Islamic Republic of Iran."
In Syria, Iran has provided billions of dollars to the dictator Bashar Al-Assad and has been building military bases, often near the Israeli border, evidently to expand its influence and create a visible and imminent threat against the Jews.
The list of Iran's interventions and acts of aggression can go on and on. Iran's footprints in these conflicts should give us an insight into the tactics and long-term strategies of Tehran and its trained and armed proxies throughout the Middle East. These goals are built on four pillars: destabilization, conflict, assassination, and the rejection of any solution that has Sunni or Western origins.
Iran's influence has saturated the entire Middle East. As this influence continues to expand, the number of terror groups it supports expands as well, and the hatred that Iran bankrolls continues to seep far beyond the boundaries of the Middle East.
The mullahs' four decades of rule should also make clear that there will be no peace, stability, or security in the Middle East as long as the ruling clerics of Iran retain political and economic power.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu