Archive for the 'Hezbollah' Category

Qassem Suleimani In Syria Helping Regime Stay in Power

Feb. 7th 2012

General Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, is assisting the regime of Bashar Assad by helping manage the Syrian forces, according to a report by Zvi Bar’el at Haaretz.com. The presence of Suleimani in the Syrian military’s command center from which Assad’s forces attack “opposition forces” underscores the importance the Revolutionary Guard and Iran’s regime attaches to holding on to Syria as an ally and conduit to Lebanon.

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After all, the “liberation” of Zabadani, a Syrian city unfamiliar to many, may not mean much to most Westerners but the IRGC recalls that Zabadani was the jumping off point for the  Revolutionary Guard’s deployment to Lebanon in 1982. The Guard later moved David Dodge, the president of American University of Beirut kidnapped by Hezbollah in 1983, through Zabadani on his way to Tehran. No, having Zabadani in hostile hands just doesn’t suit the IRGC.

Suleimani has received a lot of press lately. Ali Alfoneh of the AEI published an excellent piece on the Quds Force deputy commander, Esmail Qaani, in which Alfoneh speculated that Qaani may replace Suleimani as the Quds Force commander if (when?) Suleimani pursues a political career in anticipation of the 2013 Iranian presidential election. Then Suleimani spent a week or more in the headlines of Middle East papers such as Beirut’s Daily Star as politicians from Iraq and Lebanon complained of comments Suleimani made that suggested southern Lebanon was under Iran’s influence similar to what exists in Iraq.

Posted by IntelWars | in Hezbollah, IRGC, Qods Force, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Israel Destroys Hamas Unit Trained by IRGC

Jan. 16th 2009

The “Iranian Unit” of Hamas, composed of Hamas members trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has been “destroyed” by the Israeli Defense Force, according to Haaretz.com. The website reported,

most of the unit’s members were killed in fighting in the Zeytun neighborhood, where they had been deployed by the military leadership of Hamas.

The unit numbered approximately 100 men who had traveled to Iran and Hezbollah camps, mostly in the Beka’a Valley, where they were trained in infantry fighting tactics. The militants were also trained in the use of anti-tank missiles, the detonation of explosives, among other skills.

They managed to return to the Gaza Strip through tunnels in the Rafah border area, although a few also crossed during one of the few times that Egypt agreed to open the border crossing as a gesture of good will to Hamas.

Analysis:Clearly, Israel has targeted Iranian supplied and trained forces during its ground operations in Gaza. Although such attacks on Hamas units trained by the IRGC degrade the abilities of such units to attack Israel, such action does not address the more persistent threat of the influence and capability Iran gains by recruiting, training, equipping, and guiding proxy forces in Gaza.

Posted by Steven O'Hern | in Hezbollah, IRGC | No Comments »

The Telegraph: Iran’s Involvement in Gaza

Jan. 11th 2009

Con Coughlin analyzes the Israel-Gaza conflict as part of a larger continuing attack by Iran upon Israel in The Telegraph.

Israel’s relentless offensive to crush the radical Palestinian Hamas movement in Gaza is the opening salvo of the country’s wider campaign to confront the mounting threat posed by Iran to the survival of the Jewish state.
While the Israeli military’s immediate focus is to destroy Hamas’s ability to terrorise Israel’s southern border, the military campaign should be seen within the wider context of Israel’s growing resolve to deal with the combined danger of Iran’s continuing support for Islamic terrorist groups and its controversial uranium enrichment programme. The Israeli government sees both of these as direct threats to the country’s existence.

So far as Israel is concerned, 2009 is the year that, given Iran’s current rate of progress with uranium enrichment, will decide whether the mullahs succeed in their dream of becoming a nuclear power. Given the repeated statements President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has made about destroying Israel, the Israelis are rightly concerned that a nuclear-armed Iran would constitute a grave threat to its future survival.

At the same time the Israeli authorities are deeply alarmed by Iran’s continued support for radical Islamic groups located on the country’s northern and southern borders, both of which are committed to Israel’s ultimate destruction. Both the radical Shia Hizbollah militia in southern Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza are funded and equipped by the Iranian regime, whose Revolutionary Guards travel regularly to the region to brief the groups on strategy.

Even more detail is provided by a recent article in The Cutting Edge News.

Those 40 km missiles Hamas is unleashing against Israeli cities are certainly not “amateur rockets… nagging the residents” of Israeli cities, as a Palestinian journalist recently wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

The press calls the rockets “Grads” or “Katyushas,” the Russian name given several generations ago to the original Soviet-made surface-to-surface missiles. Today, it would be more correct to label some of the missiles by their real name, the “Arash,” the name given to them by their Iranian manufacturers. The long-range 120 mm mortars raining down on Israel are also Iranian in origin. The mortars are equipped with auxiliary motors to increase their range from six to ten kilometers.

The longest range “Grads” were manufactured in China and but (sic) many of these too were smuggled to Hamas via Iran. Visitors to Sderot’s rocket heap museum of spent missiles can view Iranian-made weapons for themselves.

Analysis:Most of the media is focusing on the death and destruction suffered by Gazans, many of whom are not guilty of any actions against Israel. But that focus benefits Iran as it continues to orchestrate a swirling maelstrom around Israel while continuing progress on the enrichment of Uranium. As both the Telegraph and The Cutting Edge News note, Israel recognizes the larger threat posed by this plan. The challenge for Israel is to find an effective strategy to counter Hamas in Gaza while retaining sufficient credibility to convince allies of the Iranian encirclement (threats from Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon, and, in the future, nuclear armed rockets) strategy.

Posted by Steven O'Hern | in Hezbollah, IRGC | No Comments »

Four Hezbollah Members Caught in Iraq

Dec. 8th 2008

The UAE Daily News reports that the U.S. Army captured four members of Lebanese Hezbollah in Iraq. One was captured in in a raid on his hideout in the Baghdad district of Al-Rasafah. The three others in an unspecified operation elsewhere.

Posted by Steven O'Hern | in Hezbollah | No Comments »

IRGC Trains Syrians to Fight Sunnis

Nov. 17th 2008

According to the Jerusalem Post the IRGC has in the past four months established intelligence cells in Lebanon, comprised of Syrian agents and Lebanese Hizbollah members, whose aim is to track down and annihilate extreme Sunni armed cells. The Jerusalem Post cited reporting by the Kuwaiti-based daily A-Siyasa.

Beginning in late July 2008, approximately 200 IRGC officers previously posted in Iraq, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates began forming cells composed of Lebanese Hezbollah, Amal, and Syrian intelligence officers.

The IRGC trained intelligence cells are tasked to identify and locate Sunni terror cells and to learn their sources of money and weapons. The intelligence cells also have the mission to kill or capture Sunni terrorists.

Analysis:Syrian intelligence has again aligned itself with Iran against its fellow Sunni nations. The intelligence operation shows again how the IRGC positions itself as a trainer, supplier, and leader of proxy forces that carry out the actual missions, similar to its use of Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraq Shiite militias in the past. This operation also displays the ability of the IRGC to surge forces capable of organizing, training and equipping intelligence and action forces into an area and commence operations in a relatively short period of time.

Posted by Steven O'Hern | in Hezbollah, IRGC, Qods Force | No Comments »

Latin America – Iran’s Next Target

Nov. 11th 2008

Iran is making inroads in a host of Latin American countries, most of which have populist leaders who distrust the United States, writes John Kiriakou, a former CIA counterterrorism official, in the Los Angeles Times.

Venezuala, Paraguay, and Bolivia are cited by Kiriakou as countries eager to grow closer to Iran in opposition to the United States. Paraguay’s president, Fernando Lugo Mendez, for instance, named Hezbollah sympathizer and fundraiser Alejandro Hamed Franco as Paraguay’s new foreign minister. In Bolivia, Iran has invested $1.1 billion in Bolivia’s gas facilities. Iran has also agreed to produce Spanish-language programming for the Bolivian state television allowing Iran to supply propaganda directly to Bolivians.

Kiriakou argues that reversing Iranian influence in Latin America will require the United States to stop ignoring the region

Analysis:Mr. Kiriakou correctly details the slow but continuing invasion of Latin America by Iran and its proxy, Lebanese Hezbollah. And where Lebanese Hezbollah goes, so goes the IRGC. Iran’s expenditure of billions of dollars in Latin America will force the United States to make a similar if not larger investment. President-elect Obama’s stated desire to use diplomacy to deal with the threat of Iran becoming a nuclear power will bump up against his opposition to free trade, a key interest of Latin American countries. The failure of the Congress to approve the free trade agreement negotiated by the Bush Administration with Colombia signals to Latin American leaders that the United States is not serious about being a viable alternative to Iran’s radical and violent influences in the region.

Posted by Steven O'Hern | in Hezbollah, IRGC | No Comments »

Iranian Embassy Takeover Anniversary – The War Continues

Nov. 4th 2008

Today is the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran that occurred twenty-nine years ago. In Tehran, students were bused in for demonstrations, according to an Associated Press report.

The dispute between the United States and the clerics who control Iran has raged and simmered at various times since the embassy takeover. Recently, the New York Times profiled Stuart Levey, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the Treasury Department and his efforts to establish a new type of sanctions against Iran. The new sanctions seek to prevent Iran, a country that has traditionally benefited greatly from foreign trade, from doing business with foreign banks.

The results of the new sanctions have been promising:

Levey has since made more than 80 foreign visits of his own to talk to more than five dozen banks. Several countries required multiple trips to reassure suspicious (or just annoyed) governments about American intentions — and then to persuade the banks. Levey offered specifics. U.S. intelligence, he told them, had traced $50 million transmitted by Iran’s Bank Saderat through a London subsidiary to a charity affiliated with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Saderat, which has 3,400 offices worldwide, is Iran’s equivalent of Citibank. Its Lebanon branch, Levey said, also supposedly sent millions of dollars to Palestinian extremists.

The Treasury Department then started blacklisting Iran’s biggest banks, urging other nations to follow suit. In 2006, Saderat was barred from direct or indirect business with U.S. banks. In early 2007, the department sanctioned Bank Sepah for financing projects to develop missiles that could carry nuclear weapons. (Sepah, meaning “army,” was established with money from Iran’s military pension fund and is now associated with Revolutionary Guard projects.) The Treasury Department then blacklisted Bank Melli, Iran’s largest bank, for supposedly helping to finance defense industries under U.N. sanctions.

Iran has angrily denied illicit activity. Its banks pledged compliance with international practices. Tehran complained to the International Monetary Fund. Some banks even wrote to the Treasury Department to protest. Iran’s Central Bank governor spoke of “financial terrorism.” Yet the innovative efforts have spread. Actions against Iranian banks became a feature of Security Council sanctions resolutions, beginning in 2006. Last June, the European Union blacklisted Melli and froze its assets. Last month, Australia sanctioned Melli and Saderat, while the U.S. blacklisted the Export Development Bank of Iran, which it claimed had taken over many of Sepah’s accounts and provided services for missile programs. The Treasury Department is also scrutinizing Iran’s Central Bank and considering blacklisting it too, which could undermine not only the country’s banking system but also international support for the U.S. campaign.

The New York Times article also describes how the sanctions focused on compliance with international banking laws have been effective and led to other financial based sanctions:

For the first time in 30 years, U.S. officials contend, Washington has found a tangible way to pressure Iran. Whatever happens with the Bush administration’s diplomatic or intelligence efforts, this is the program most likely to be continued by the next administration because it has bipartisan support.

And Levey is continuing to pick new battlefronts. In September, the Treasury Department sanctioned Iran’s national shipping company and affiliates in 10 countries for falsifying documents and for transporting cargo on behalf of entities tied to weapons of mass destruction by the United Nations. Treasury officials say the insurance industry is next. “This is one of the most powerful actions that can be taken, short of military action,” Paulson told me. “It’s not a knockout punch, but it is effective.”

But the New York Times suggests these sanctions, while having some effect on Iran, will take a decade or longer to be fully effective at curbing Iran’s aggressive and will that be sufficient to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The war continues 29 years after “students” took over the U.S. Embassy.

Posted by IntelWars | in Hezbollah, IRGC | No Comments »

Nasrallah Assasination Attempt – Jamestown Foundation Analysis

Oct. 31st 2008

The Jamestown Foundation Terrorism Focus discounts the rumors of the attempted assassination of Lebanese Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Shaykh Hassan Nasrallah. More interesting to the Terrorism Focus was the announcement that Hassan Nasrallah had appointed his cousin Hashim Safi Al-Din (chairman of the Hezbollah executive office) as his personal successor in the event of an assassination. The Terrorism Focus had this analysis:

Although Hezbollah said it was “unaware” of the succession report and failed to comment on its merit, the choice of Al-Din as a successor seems highly plausible, as Nasrallah himself was the former chairman of the executive office before becoming Secretary General and the position seems a training post for future leaders of the organization (Daily Star, October 16).

The announcement also had a broader political relevance, as it followed Israel’s announcement it was ready to use “disproportionate force” in the event of a future war against Lebanon (Ha’aretz, October 4). In this sense, Hezbollah sent the message that even the assassination of its leader would not succeed in permanently weakening the organization (Al-Arabiya, October 14). Hezbollah’s declarations included a more general warning to Israel regarding a “big surprise” awaiting them in the event of a future attack, as well as a more specific threat to avenge the assassination of Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyeh (Al-Bawaba, October 8; Al-Akhbar, October 8).

Posted by IntelWars | in Hezbollah | No Comments »

Irregular War Debate in Wall Street Journal

Oct. 30th 2008

A Wall Street Journal article reports that the new administration will be forced to pick between building irregular war capability or building up conventional war capability. According to the article, the U.S. government’s current financial condition will not allow both.

The WSJ does a good job explaining to the public an issue that has been debated in defense circles for several years. One excerpt –

The two competing schools of thought each warn that making the wrong decisions now could imperil U.S. national security down the road. The military officials who favor buying advanced weapons believe that failing to invest in those systems today could leave U.S. forces ill-equipped to fight a modernized Russian or Chinese military in the future. Conversely, advocates of expanding the size of the ground forces argue that the military will be unable to meet the troop demands of the ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to say nothing of conflicts elsewhere in the world, unless the Army and Marines recruit tens of thousands of additional troops.

The final decision will ultimately fall to the next administration, which will have to prioritize how to divvy up what may be a significantly smaller defense budget. Neither the Obama nor the McCain campaign has tipped its hand on whether to focus on asymmetric conflicts like Iraq or possible large-scale conventional wars.

Representative John Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the House subcommittee on defense appropriations, has declared the U.S. government can’t afford the 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates would like to add by 2012.

Analysis:The services need a large infusion of money to replace and upgrade equipment. The Air Force is operating a fleet of aircraft that may be the oldest since World War II. Army and Marine Corps armor, vehicles, and other equipment have been depleted and fatigued by operations in Afghanistan since 2001 and Iraq since 2003. Current defense spending is approximately 4% of gross domestic product; under Jimmy Carter – no defense hawk – defense spending was approximately 4.7%. The United States must maintain the capability to fight both a conventional nation-state foe (Russia, China, Iran) and irregular or fourth-generation war against non-state actors (al-Qaeda and its progeny) and countries using proxies against American interests (Iran’s IRGC and Lebanese Hezbollah). Unfortunately, much of the fight for funding for assets needed for conventional (F-22 fighter, satellites, and the Army’s $160 billion Future Combat System) and irregular foes (troops and facilities to train and house them, transport aircraft, ground vehicles) will be based on politicians advancing the causes of various defense contractors who seek to supply those items.

Posted by IntelWars | in 4GW, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, IRGC | No Comments »

Did Israel Poison Lebanese Hezbollah’s Nasrallah?

Oct. 24th 2008

Iranian doctors have saved the life of Hassan Nasrallah according to Sky News citing a report in the Iraqi news media.

Concerns about Israeli assasination of Nasrallah has prompted Lebanese Hezbollah to designate a successor according to The National website. Nasrallah’s cousin, Sayyid Hashim Safei al Deen, who heads Hezbollah’s executive branch would take over for Nasrallah. The National reports it is unclear whether al Deen’s ascension would be permanent or only temporary until a permanent leader would be selected.

Posted by IntelWars | in Hezbollah | No Comments »

Books

In Iran's Revolutionary Guard, a thoroughly researched investigation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Steven O'Hern reveals new information about Hezbollah and IRGC operations inside...

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The Intelligence Wars: Lessons from Baghdad, a book that is a critical review of U.S. intelligence operations in Iraq, explains why human intelligence must be better managed to fight future enemies.

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