Iran continues its efforts to turn Syria and Iraq into proxy states and is near completion of its land bridge from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea and the Israeli border on the Golan Heights.
This became clear from several recent events, among them the three-day-long visit to Iraq of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who was even granted a rare meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq.
After arriving in Baghdad, Rouhani signed an array of trade and travel agreements which aim to boost economic relations between Iran and Iraq and to offset the damage done by the re-introduction of a heavy sanction regime against Iran by the Trump Administration.
The new Iraqi government earlier refused to comply with Trump’s demand that Iraq joined the sanction regime against Iran, while Iraqi politicians and the Iranian-founded Hashd al-Sha’abi umbrella organization of predominantly Shiite militias called for the ouster of all US troops from Iraqi soil.
Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), founded Hash al-Sha’abi, succeeding in recruiting no less than 100,000 fighters who joined the umbrella organization, also known under the name ‘Popular Mobilization Forces.’
It was Hashd al-Sha’abi together with the Kurdish Peshmerga militia and not the US-led coalition against ISIS which effectively secured the demise of Islamic State’s Caliphate in Iraq.
This is the reason Iran now expects the Iraqi government to allow the Quds Brigade and Hashd al-Sha’abi to activate the transport routes which are part of the land bridge to the Israeli border and the Mediterranean Sea.
In Syria, Soleimani did the same and recruited 100,000 Shiite combatants from countries as far away as Pakistan and Afghanistan.
These forces were more than instrumental in defeating the Sunni-led rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad and helped the Syrian army in regaining control over roughly 60 percent of Syria’s territory.
Today, Assad again controls virtually every major population center in Syria. However, he has not yet been able to win the battle with Islamist rebel groups who still control the Idlib Province in northern Syria and routinely stage attacks on Assad’s forces in other parts of western and northern Syria.
The Syrian dictator warned during a speech on February 18 that he is still far from restoring his rule to pre-war level.
“We have this romantic view sometimes that we are victorious. No, the war is not over,” Assad said.
The Syrian tyrant realizes he has been reduced to a puppet of Tehran and Russia and is feverishly working to restore ties with Arab countries.
At the same time, Assad has made clear that he will do nothing to stop Iran’s plan for the annihilation of Israel and is in favour of future military action against Israel from Syrian soil.
Soleimani earlier founded the Golan Liberation Brigade, a predominantly Shiite militia from Iraq, which is currently recruiting disgruntled Sunni’s in the Kuneitra and Daraa Provinces in western Syria.
On Monday, the IRGC organized a meeting in Damascus involving Iraqi and Syrian military officials who will discuss the opening of border crossings on the Syrian Iraqi border and the completion of the land bridge.
Chief of General Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri is leading the talks which aim to achieve military and economic cooperation between Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Upon arrival in Damascus, Bagheri warned foreign forces to get out of Syria and claimed their presence in the country was illegal since they were not invited by the Assad regime.
The Iranian general said the issue would be an important topic on the agenda.
Bagheri’s comments came as the Russian media outlet Rambler reported that Iran is negotiating with the Assad regime about Iranian control over a container port in the Latakia Province.
The Iranian attempts to establish a foothold in Latakia could set Tehran on a crash course with Russia, which has several bases in Latakia and is leasing the port of Tartus from the Assad regime.
Iran claims its attempts to establish a foothold in Latakia are meant to improve its economic stature in the region, but it’s clear that the move is related to Tehran’s post-war plans for Syria which ultimately should help it to confront Israel.
- Iran is currently helping Hezbollah to modernize its missile arsenal which largely consists of crude missiles.
- Iran is smuggling the necessary GPS equipment for transforming missiles by way of suitcases on civilian flights to Lebanon.
- The GPS kits are relatively small making the delivery to Hizbollah virtually without risk because the IAF will not carry out attacks on civil aircraft or civilian airports to make delivery impossible.
- The GPS equipment enables Iran and Hezbollah to convert 14,000 Zelzal-2 and 3 missiles into precision weapons. Hezbollah’s missile arsenal is estimated on 140,000 projectiles, among them also Scud rockets.
Last Thursday, the IRGC held a large-scale exercise with remotely controlled combat aircraft (UAV’s) in the Persian Gulf. The exercise was named Bayt al-Maqdis, the original name that the first Muslims used for Jerusalem.
Bayt al-Maqdis is Arabic and Farsi for the words Beit HaMiqdash in Hebrew, the name for the Temples built by King Solomon and King Herod.
Also last Thursday, it was revealed that Hezbollah is collaborating with Iran to build terror infrastructure on the Syrian Golan Heights.
Hezbollah commander Abu Hussein Sajid, a terrorist who was sentenced to life imprisonment by the United States for murdering American soldiers in Iraq but was released after five years by the Iraqi government, leads the military build-up on the Golan Heights.
Sajid has recruited hundreds of Syrians to form a new brigade on the Syrian mountainous plateau. The brigade will be equipped with automatic weapons, explosives and anti-tank missiles and will most likely take part in a future multiple-front war against Israel.
Hizbollah's military capabilities have increased significantly as a result of the war in Syria and are now estimated as 100 times higher than what the Lebanese terror organization had during the war with Israel in 2006, a senior Iranian official said on Wednesday.
The Israeli company ImmageSat International, furthermore, revealed that Iran has built a new plant in northern Syria where precision missiles are assembled, intended for use against Israel in the future.
The plant is located in Safita in northwestern Syria and is only eight kilometers away from the border with Lebanon.
All this makes it clear that Iran is steadily making progress in its preparations for a multi-front war against Israel.
The only world leader who from the beginning saw this coming was Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The Israeli leader relentlessly warned against Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and was one of the first world leaders who recognized the threat ISIS poses to the free world.
This even earned him the praise of Ha’aretz analyst Anshel Pfeffer - not exactly a fan of the Israeli PM - who came to the conclusion the Netanyahu "outfoxed" not only Iran but also Russia and ISIS.