Iran’s Secret Army

November 24, 2013 § 18 Comments

As the world celebrates the deal between the West and Iran, it should be remembered that Western concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme – and the sanctions which have so damaged Iran’s economy – were provoked by Israeli concerns, and that these are not existential but strategic. Iran doesn’t need a nuclear weapon but only the ability to enrich uranium to a level where it could quickly make a nuclear weapon. At that stage, the bullying power given Israel by its own nuclear arsenal vanishes. A sensible approach to the problem would have reduced Tehran’s nuclear ambition while disarming Israel. The West, of course, did not press for this, and Iran, despite its stale ‘resistance’ rhetoric, did not hold out for it.

In general, it’s good to see tension reduced between Iran and the West. The great shame is that while a deal is done over the nuclear programme, something that was never much of a threat, Iran has not been called to account for its pernicious intervention in Syria, a far greater threat to regional and international security. Iran’s intervention is on a far greater scale than any Saudi or Qatari interference. The Islamic Republic’s ‘revolutionary’ legitimacy is of course destroyed by its siding with a tyrant against a revolutionary people, and its Shia legitimacy will also be destroyed in the eyes of any thinking human being, for it has joined Yazeed in a war against a struggling Hussain. After Assad’s employment of sectarian death squads, ‘Shia’ Iran’s deployment of racist occupation forces to direct the tyrant’s fightback has been the single biggest factor amplifying the sectarian nature of the conflict. It has already dragged Lebanon back to the brink of civil war. Some argue that peacable relations between the US and Iran will defang Iran’s hardliners. That may happen eventually, but it will be far too late for usurped and shattered Syria.

I used to argue that the West and the Arabs should work with Iran. I used to repeat the line about Iran not having attacked another country in three centuries. (I made allowances for its pernicious role in keeping Iraq divided and sectarian; Iraq had after all attacked Iran in the past.) Unfortunately this line is no longer true. The Arabs are now absolutely right to regard Iran as an aggressive, expansionist threat. This deal has by no means secured peace in the region.

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§ 18 Responses to Iran’s Secret Army

  • Gerald Payne says:

    ” ‘Shia’ Iran’s deployment of racist occupation forces to direct the tyrant’s fightback has been the single biggest factor amplifying the sectarian nature of the conflict.” So nothing to do with Saudi Arabia or Qatar, or even, for instance, “logistical support” from the US/UK regimes?

    • Robin Yassin-Kassab says:

      the US’s main role has been to stop the Gulf sending the heavy weapons the Free Army so desperately needs. Your assumption otherwise is based on bad journalism of the Seamus Milne, Tariq Ali school. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have also contributed, but not to the extent of Iran. Whart the struggling Syrian people see is that the self-declared ‘Shia’ powers are helping the tyrant to murder and displace them. Their growing hatred for Shiism is thus no more surprising than Palestinian hatred for Jews.

  • Pervez Younus says:

    This problem with Iran that some Muslims have is esentially due to that pernicious Sunni Shia divide which the West has exploited in the past and will continue to the detriment of Islam. The people of Syria if subjugated under a repressive regime have to gain their own freedom without the active Western arm support otherwise Syria will end up like Libya. For years together they will pose no challenges to Israeli expansion and ultimately destruction of the Palestinian dreams.The Arabs have been successfully divided in the past, will that ever change?—Pervez

    • Robin Yassin-Kassab says:

      Pervez – most Syrian people, including sectarian Sunnis, grudgingly admired Iran three years ago. Now most Syrians vehemently hate Iran. You can pretend the change has nothing to do with Iran’s disgusting policy in Syria if you like, just as you can continue hallucinating ‘western armed support’. It won’t change reality.

  • Pervez Younus says:

    The fact that the most repressive regimes in Middle East e.g Saudi are supporting the Rebel forces in Syria are proof of the real cause of the conflict in Syria. Surely Saudis are not there to help Syrians to overthrow a Repressive regime. The facts are otherwise- to do the dirty work of the West for their own longevity.

    • Robin Yassin-Kassab says:

      first sentence – a terrible failure of logic. second sentence – of course the sauds main aim is to fight iran by proxy. that doesn’t mean that the people, suffering the full assault of assad’s russian and iranian backed army, shouldnt take any help they can find from wherever they can find it. third sentence – no, the gulf is opposed to the west on this. the west has handed syria over to russia.

  • Matt says:

    Robin, you make repeated reference to the Syrian “people” fighting Assad this, or hating Iran that. Do you have evidence for this? My impression from various sources is that the Syrian people are deeply divided, and that probably a plurality if not a small majority supports the regime, at least to the extent that they fear something worse if the rebels take over. (And if the rebels take over, you can be damned sure it won’t be your friends in the FSA.) I ask you this as someone who abhors the Assad regime as much as the jihadi lunatics who are now apparently leading the military fight against him. Your reply?

    • Robin Yassin-Kassab says:

      i would like you to prove your assertion. Of course you can’t, and neither can I prove mine, because we can’t do real polling in Syria. However – there is a massive military imbalance between the two sides. One side (the regime) is heavily armed and resupplied, has its fight-back run by Iran and its political back covered by Russia. The other side is largely reliant on the weapons it can capture, and is splintered into many different, sometimes competing militias. Yet the revolution has liberated over half the national territory. To account for this fact you either have to hallucinate massive military assistance from outside – but that is a hallucination – or you have to face the fact that the revolution has massive popular support. (I would put this support at something like 80%). I also know this because I know Syria and its people well – but of course that doesn’t translate into a communicable proof. As for your orientalist notion that ‘jihadi lunatics’ are leading the fight, no, they aren’t. Those groups are trying to form emirates on the northern border, and are as likely to be fighting Syrian resistance groups as they are to be fighting the regime. The dominant resistance fighting forces at this stage are Islamists (which I find deeply problematic) but they are not jihadi lunatics, not al-qaida franchises. There is a difference.

  • Matt says:

    I’ll leave it for others to decide or for another day to argue whether ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra are jihadi lunatics, or whether my saying so is “orientalist”, but I’d like to point out how circular your whole vocabulary is. You refer, reflexively it seems, to rebel-held territory as, by definition, “liberated,” and to all the forces fighting Assad as “the revolution”. Does this include the salafist militias getting funds from Bandar bin Sultan via Jordan or just the ones getting small arms across the Turkish border from Qatar? Assad is a horrible beast, and if I were a Syrian I’d be glad to see him go (provided what follows isn’t worse, which I’m afraid it may well be), but Robin, I’ve got to say that on the question of who supports what and whom in Syria right now, your word for it just isn’t good enough.

    • Robin Yassin-Kassab says:

      i’m sure it isn’t good enough for someone as ignorant as you. i repeat, the jihadi lunatics like ISIL are still a small minority. they are focussed on building emirates in the north. jaish al-islam and others, however, the islamists but not jihadist lunatics, are syrians fighting against assadist-iranian-russian oppression. yes, salafist militias getting funds from saudi arabia and anywhere else they can get funds from are part of the revolution. their long term agenda worries me, but i support them absolutely in their struggle against genocidal fascism. i hope the saudis give them a lot more than they have already. i think syrian revolutionaries should take funds and weapons from wherever they can find them. when your children are starving due to a fascist siege, i will also support them liberating themselves by all means necessary. ISIS however is composed mainly of non-syrians who have a global, not a syrian agenda. directly and indirectly they are helping assad. they are murdering revolutionary organisers.

  • Robin Yassin-Kassab says:


    here is suad nowfal, a heroic revolutionary woman of al-raqqa, eastern syria, talking about how Assad and ISIS are two sides of the same coin. This woman knows what is happening in her country. She is fighting Assadist fascism and jihadist lunatics at the same time. if revolutionaries like this were covered by the western media, blanket thinkers like you (who think there is no difference between, for example, ISIS and jaish al-islam) would not be so ignorant.

  • Robin Yassin-Kassab says:

    i support any group fighting to liberate the country from the genocidal gang and its foreign and imperialist backers (ISIS are not doing this). As for my own allegiance within the revolution, it goes to the Free Syrian Union http://notgeorgesabra.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/for-a-civil-secular-state-100-groups-unite-in-the-union-of-free-syrians/

  • Robin Yassin-Kassab says:

    and here (but I will stop now; there’s not much one can do with someone fed by the ignorant orientalist western media) is a story about liwa al-tawheed, an islamist militia, by far the biggest in aleppo city and province, part of the new Islamic Front, now the biggest fighting force in Syria. Islamists, but not lunatic jhadists, not foreigners with a global agenda. http://m.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Sep-21/232025-christian-hostel-in-aleppo-has-own-view-of-jihadist-rebels.ashx

  • Robin Yassin-Kassab says:

    if you are genuinely interested in learning, you will find this report on the new Islamic Front, and its relations with the secular Free Army, interesting: https://mkaradjis.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/assessment-of-new-islamic-front-allaince/

  • Abu Max says:

    I think the IRGC involvement in Syria is really quite limited. What you saw in the film is an example of it. It is – at the most – several hundred / 1,500 or so military advisors, mainly working in communications and training the NDF. They might do some commando actions here and there but it’s not significant. Iran’s biggest act of support was probably the multi billion dollar oil deal, not these few Qods Force specialists. Ordering Hezbollah into the fray probably did much more to alter the military balance than the Qods Force have.

    • Robin Yassin-Kassab says:

      yes, probably not so many boots on the ground. reliable reports indicate that the Assadist army’s tactical and strategic military planning is being run by Iran. and yes, ordering Hizbullah into battle has been a crucial step. Qusair was won back by Hizbullah. Hizbullah is leading the fight on the Qalamoun front, and the Assadist army is taking orders from Hizbullah. Iranian-client Iraqi militia as well as Hizbullah are on the front lines in the eastern Ghouta.

  • Abu Max says:

    “Racist Occupation Forces”?! This is based on footage of a few military advisors, one of whom makes a tasteless jibe to undermine the politically correct film his IRGC bosses are trying to get made? This group ends up dead, after being outgunned in an ambush. So it seems quite an extreme statement you’ve made there.

    • Robin Yassin-Kassab says:

      I find your justification of the occupying soldier’s racism tasteless in the extreme. if you think Iranian anti-Arab racism ends there you are naive. And if you think these occupiers (thankfully eliminated) are the only ones, you don’t know much at all. the Iranians are planning Assad’s military strategy. they are advising a genocide. their sectarian clients from Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere are on Assad’s front lines. So I’ll stick with my statement, thank you very much. The Iranians have made themselves (starting in Iraq) the enemies of the Arab world. I’m on my way back from Syria/ Turkey where I’ve spent ten days talking to Syrians who are bearing the brunt. I can assure you that my position in comparison to theirs is mild. Syrians are bitter to say the least after having been fooled/ taken advantage of by the wilayat al-faqeeh and its Lebanese client for so long.

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