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Iranian Affairs

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Israel was involved in US drone strike that killed Soleimani, ex-intel chief says

By The Associated Press
Dec 22, 2021
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In this Sept. 18, 2016, photo provided by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, attends a meeting in Tehran, Iran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)


JERUSALEM — Israel’s former military intelligence chief says the country was involved in the American airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in January 2020. It was the first public acknowledgement of Israel’s role in the operation.

Soleimani headed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force and helped orchestrate Iran’s involvement with paramilitary groups abroad. He was killed in a U.S. drone strike at the Baghdad airport in January 2020, an incident that threatened to pull the countries into full-blown conflict.

A week after the airstrike, NBC News reported that Israeli intelligence helped confirm the details of Soleimani’s flight from Damascus to Baghdad. Earlier this year, a Yahoo News reported that Israel “had access to Soleimani’s numbers” and gave that intelligence to the United States.
But Maj. Gen. Tamir Heyman, the now-retired general who headed military intelligence until October, appears to be the first official to confirm Israel’s involvement.

Heyman’s comments were published in the November issue of a Hebrew-language magazine closely affiliated with Israel’s intelligence services. The interview was held in late September, a couple weeks before his retirement from the military. The authors wrote that Heyman opened the interview by talking about the American airstrike that killed Soleimani, but in which Israeli intelligence played a part.


“Assassinating Soleimani was an an achievement, since our main enemy, in my eyes, are the Iranians,” Heyman told the magazine. He said there were “two significant and important assassinations during my term” as head of army intelligence.

“The first, as I’ve already recalled, is that of Qassem Soleimani — it’s rare to locate someone so senior, who is the architect of the fighting force, the strategist and the operator — it’s rare,” he said. Heyman called Soleimani “the engine of the train of Iranian entrenchment” in neighboring Syria.

Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria in the past decade, but rarely publicly comments on them. Israel has said, however, that it has targeted bases of Iranian-backed force and arms shipments bound for Iran’s proxy, the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah.

Heyman said that Israeli strikes had succeeded in “preventing the attempt by Iran to put down roots in Syria.”

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Heyman’s remarks.

The interview was published as world powers and Iran were engaged in negotiations to reach a new agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program. The previous deal, struck in 2015, unraveled after the United States unilaterally withdrew in 2018 and re-imposed crippling economic sanctions on Iran.

On Wednesday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was scheduled to meet this week in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to discuss “a range of issues of strategic importance to the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship, including the threat posed by Iran,” National Security Council Spokesperson Emily Horne said.

Israel considers Iran its regional arch-foe, and says it will take any steps needed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
 

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Yemen: Saudi coalition says not slow to help evacuate Iran envoy

Tehran has accused coalition of being slow to facilitate the evacuation of Hassan Irloo, who died after getting COVID-19.
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Members of Iranian forces carry the coffin of Iran's ambassador to Yemen, Hassan Irloo, during a funeral ceremony in Tehran [Reuters]
Published On 22 Dec 2021

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen has rejected accusations from Iran that it was slow to facilitate the evacuation of an Iranian diplomat who later died from complications related to COVID-19.

The Iranian government blamed the “slow cooperation of certain countries” for the death of Hassan Irloo on Tuesday after he was flown out of the Houthi-held capital, Sanaa, on Saturday, in a rare exemption from a Saudi-led air blockade.

On Wednesday, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, Turki al-Maliki, decried the comments as “defamatory”.

“The coalition has facilitated and provided all necessary transit permits as well as logistical support,” he said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

“It had facilitated the evacuation on humanitarian grounds, and in recognition of the diplomatic mediation by Oman and Iraq in less than 48 hours of reporting (Irloo’s) health condition,” he added.

Irloo, 63, was named last year as Iran’s ambassador to the areas of the war-torn country controlled by the Houthi rebels. He was flown out of Sanaa on an Iraqi flight after his hosts secured authorisation from the Saudi-led coalition, which has enforced an air and sea blockade on rebel-held territory since August 2016.
 

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Resentment fuels Iran’s animosity toward US and Saudi Arabia

Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami

December 20, 2021

The political system in Iran is built on fundamental principles that address the domestic and external fronts differently.

At home, the regime emphasizes its supposed independence from global powers, adopting a “neither East nor West but the Islamic Republic” slogan. In addition to this, the regime constantly emphasizes its opposition to the Pahlavi regime that preceded it.

Overseas, both regionally and globally, Iran’s regime has consistently shown hostility or belligerence toward most countries. Outpourings of hatred rarely follow the same pattern, with expressions toward regional and global actors markedly different to one another. In short, there is a political animosity and an ideological one; the former is most evident in the organized chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” that are repeated by Tehran’s supporters across the region.

There are also other versions of these slogans, such as the one chanted by the Iran-affiliated Houthi militia in Yemen: “Death to America, damnation to Jews, victory for Islam.”

This animosity is limited to the political and rhetorical spheres for various reasons. First and foremost, Iran and its allies position themselves as bulwarks against global, primarily Western imperialism, knowing that this narrative will find a sympathetic audience in the Muslim world, which has experienced the disastrous effects of centuries of predominantly Western colonialism.

Iran’s regime harnesses widespread regional resentment at the decades of injustices perpetrated against the Palestinian people and the West’s failure to find an equitable settlement for this crisis, along with its clear bias for the Israeli occupiers against the Palestinian victims. The regime capitalizes on this righteous resentment and anger to promote its own message of hatred and hostility toward the US and Israel.

In Ayatollah Khomeini’s last will, he mentioned the US 17 times, famously labeling it as the “Great Satan.” In a document entitled, “We are proud of our animosity against the terrorist America,” he called Americans “beasts” who “have no qualms about committing any crime or offense to achieve their criminal and ominous objectives.” Americans, he asserted, make no distinction between a friend and enemy so long as it helps achieve their “hegemonic and despicable ambitions,” with “terrorist America” and its ally, global Zionism, igniting the flames of conflict worldwide.

This political animosity, aimed at the US, Israel and Western countries, is different to Iran’s ideological animosity, which primarily targets Saudi Arabia, and has ideological and geopolitical impulses. In a speech in 1989, Khomeini said: “Even if it were possible to forgive Saddam Hussein, become heedless to the issue of Al-Quds, or ignore the crimes of the US, it would never be possible to forgive Saudi Arabia.”

Anyone who reads Khomeini’s will quickly realizes that his greatest animosity was reserved for Saudi Arabia. According to the Iranian constitution, the primary objective is to “export the revolution” — firstly in the Middle East, from Lebanon in the north to Yemen in the south. According to Khomeinist ideology, Iran’s fundamental doctrinal and ideological responsibility is to pave the way for the reappearance of the “hidden imam.”

Iran’s supreme leader considers himself to have leadership over all Muslims and Iran to lead the Muslim world, despite its various jurisprudential and sectarian schools of thought. Iran’s quest has failed because Makkah and Madinah, the two holiest sites in Islam, are located in Saudi Arabia, and are outside Tehran’s control. Hence, Iran seeks to weaken and destabilize Saudi Arabia so it can, either directly or indirectly, wrest control of the Two Holy Mosques.

Many signs confirm this Iranian quest, with Iran’s leadership having already held and funded dozens of conferences, symposiums and demonstrations across the world, with the common thread being to promote the idea that Saudi Arabia is not fit to run the Two Holy Mosques. It has clearly and repeatedly demanded that the Two Holy Mosques be supervised by a joint Islamic committee.

It should be considered that Iran’s foreign policy is based on the politics and ideology of animosity and aggressiveness, especially toward countries who stand up to Tehran’s expansionist project and its profoundly destabilizing doctrine of “exporting the revolution.”
Mohammed Al-Sulami

In addition, Iran has devised “The Theory of Umm Al-Qura,” first proposed by Mohammed Javad Larijani in the 1980s. The essence of this theory is that the so-called Islamic Republic is not merely one of many Muslim countries but is, in fact, Umm Al-Qura, or the abode of Islam, meaning that the victory or defeat of Iran means the victory or defeat of Islam.

The theory states that Iran will be the leader of the Islamic world, and asserts that any country aspiring to be Umm Al-Qura should extend beyond its recognized geographical borders. Umm Al-Qura is not an exclusive birthright for any country, meaning a certain country could be the standard-bearer of Umm Al-Qura for a certain period of time. After the Islamic revolution emerged victorious, Iran became Umm Al-Qura and the abode of Islam.

For Iran’s leadership, which has even claimed that Saudi Arabia is illegitimately occupying Makkah and Madinah, this theory provides a handy pretext for nominating Qom — the center of Iranian hard-line Shiite teaching — as a holy city to rival Makkah. According to the theory, Makkah is under Saudi occupation. In fact, despite the massive proselytization of the theory, it has found no acceptance among the Islamic countries.

The theory’s failure led Iran to focus on Shiite geopolitics. Shiite minorities are being recruited, trained, and supported to destabilize the region, including Saudi Arabia. Thus, Iran created Hezbollah, trained its elements, funneled money and weapons to the group and ran its terrorist operations inside Saudi Arabia. Currently, Iran is targeting the Kingdom via the Houthi militia in Yemen. The Houthi militia repeats the slogan, “The road to Jerusalem passes through Makkah” — a modification of Khomeini’s slogan during the Iran-Iraq War: “The road to Jerusalem passes through Karbala.”

These self-evident facts prove that the Iranian regime is founded on animosity to both the distant “other” (the US) politically and the near “other” (Saudi Arabia), both ideologically and politically. This also explains why Iran is supporting terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and hosting their commanders in Tehran, and why it facilitated the passage of the terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks with the aim of damaging relations between the US and Saudi Arabia.

Hence, it should be considered that Iran’s foreign policy is based on the politics and ideology of animosity and aggressiveness, especially toward countries who stand up to Tehran’s expansionist project and its profoundly destabilizing doctrine of “exporting the revolution.” Riyadh and Washington emerge as the two main forces capable of preventing Iran from realizing its strategic objective.

In conclusion, we must remember the words of Khomeini in his will. These words are not abstract but express an order. He said: “This is the age where the Islamic world is oppressed at the hands of the US and the Soviet Union and all their client regimes such as the House of Saud, traitors of the great Holy Mosque (May the curse of God, his angels and his messengers be upon them). It was necessary to point to this issue, invoking curses upon those insolents and viscerally condemn them.”


Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami is head of Rasanah, the International Institute for Iranian Studies. Twitter: @mohalsulami
 

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Clashes in southeast Iran leave several troops, 'bandits' dead

23 hours ago
The fighting took place in the district of Kourin, near the Pakistani border, killing 3 three Guard members and at least 6 bandits.
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Iran's Sistan-Baluchestan province has long been plagued by unrest.
(IRAN'S REVOLUTIONARY GUARD VIA SEPAH NEWS / AFP)

Iran's Revolutionary Guard and an armed criminal gang have clashed in a restive southeastern province, leaving three Guard members and "at least six bandits" dead.

Five other bandits have been wounded in the second day of clashes in an impoverished and often restive region, the state-run IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.

According to the report, fighting took place in the district of Kourin, about 1,120 kilometres (700miles) southeast of the capital, Tehran, and near the Pakistani border.

The Revolutionary Guard said they had killed six "armed bandits" in the country's southeast in a statement on their website.

Three local members of the volunteer Basij militia fighting alongside the Revolutionary Guard were killed in the clashes, the elite force's statement said.

A troubled region
Kourin is a district in Sistan-Baluchestan province that has long been plagued by unrest from militant groups.

The province, bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan, is where a separatist group affiliated with al Qaeda and known as Jaish al Adl, or Army of Justice, operates.

Last July, armed bandits shot and killed four Guard members in the province.

On Friday, Revolutionary Guards had shot dead three men believed to have been involved in the killing of two Guards on December 25, according to Iranian media.

Security forces have also clashed with drug traffickers in the province, located along a major smuggling route for Afghan opium and heroin.

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