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July 16, 2015

Buying Martyrs for Iran's Expanding Proxy War

Mohammad Javad Zarif.jpg

The most immediate benefit for Iran resulting from the deal over its nuclear program is access to over $100 billion dollars. Critics of the deal argue that flushed with money, Iran will escalate its funding and involvement in on-going proxy wars and terrorism.

A Wall Street Journal piece lays out the extent of Iranian support for the Syrian regime, Hezbollah, Iraqi militias and Houthis in Yemen. Iranian funds will be used in a variety of ways. It will prop up the Assad regime that still controls major Syrian cities and the Houthi rebels that control a large portion of Yemen.

Funds will also be used to purchase weapons and munitions both to replenish existing stocks and introduce new weapon systems. There are numerous reports of Iranian supplies of a panoply of weapons to Syria, Hezbollah, Iraqi Shiite militias and Houthis.

In one shipment in March, 2015, the Iranians unloaded 185 tons of weapons to the Houthis.

Of particular concern to Israel are the missiles intended for Hezbollah.

Historical analogies are useful here to understand the impact of such activities down the road. During the Spanish Civil War from 1936-1938, Nazi Germany provided essential support to the Spanish Fascists, the Nationalists, initially providing weapons and instructors, and then eventually injecting small numbers of German troops, depicting them as volunteers. Iran seems to be following a similar path of involvement. It has even used the same ruse, labeling the increasing numbers of Iranians involved in the fighting in Syria and Iraq as volunteers.

The Spanish Civil War is instructive in another way with respect to the civil wars in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. The Spanish conflict provided Nazi Germany with a testing ground for its more sophisticated weapons and emerging tactics. It was in Spain, in places like Guernica, that the Germans practiced aerial bombardment of cities. Spain was also a testing ground for the Germans to refine their tactics, for example in the use of tanks. The experience Germany gained proved immensely valuable during the war that followed in Europe. The drawn-out fighting in Syria, Iraq and Yemen may yield similar benefits to Iran and its proxies.

There is another substantial benefit derived from the infusion of money available for military aggression and terrorism. An article in a Lebanese Internet magazine, NOW Lebanon, discusses the rising toll on Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite military and terror organization that serves Iran's leaders. The article notes that Hezbollah has lost, by many accounts, over a thousand fighters in Syria. The losses have begun to stir some disaffection toward Hezbollah among Lebanon's 1.5 million-member Shiite community. The new funds will help contain any emerging discord.

The article notes that the families of those killed in Syria receive compensatory benefits:

Firstly, they become martyr families. This means they gain privileges and receive the highest level of attention and care. Then there is the matter of money: according to Al-Modon’s source, each family that loses a son in Syria receives substantial compensation.

The infusion of money enables Iran to set aside vast sums for the purposes of providing generous compensation to the ever-growing number of families contributing "martyrs" to the Iranian cause.

So the net benefit of the infusion of billions of dollars is two-fold. Iran will be able to supply its forces, including proxies, with more weapons and better weapons. At the same time, it will ensure a continued supply of recruits for its expanding war.

Posted by SS at July 16, 2015 11:38 AM


Has this article been sent to US government officials? I hope it has, and that any answer, if one, will be published and publicized.

Posted by: Thomas Kaplan at July 23, 2015 03:08 PM

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