Why is Iran supporting Hezbollah?

Many Iranians are complaining about Iran helping Hezbollah in Lebanon, often emphasizing that there are enough poor and needy people in Iran more worthy of support.

While it´s true that there are indeed many poor people in Iran, we should keep in mind that Irans financial problems are not due to money „wasted“ on funding Hezbollah but mainly to – largely unjustified –  western sanctions. Irans loss from being disconnected from the international payment system and from the extreme sanction based decline of foreign direct investments is in the tens of Billions.

Hezbollah is Irans extended front line with Israel. Without this „artificial border“ Iran would not be able to deter Israel from attacking Iranian facilities by making use of US provided long range bombers.

Thus, when the civil war in Syria broke out and took a clearly sectarian tone by attracting foreign Shia- and Iran-hating Jihadists, both Iran and Hezbollah understood the existential threat. It was no coincidence that Israel immediately supported the „rebellion“ in Syria (while at the same time treating stonethrowing Palestinian youth as „terrorists“).
Irans support for the Syrian government is neither because of the former being led by an Alawite (often wrongly called a „Shia sect“) nor with the purpose of expanding Shia Islam or suppressing Sunnis. If Irans motivations were „sectarian“ then why did the country support Sunni Afghans (Massouds Northern Alliance) and Arabs (Hamas)? Why the support for Sunni Europeans (Bosnians) in the Balcan wars?
Irans support for Syria has three main reasons:
1. During the Iran-Iraq war Syria supported Iran, while all Arab middle east and Gulf states supported Iraq with money and arms, sometimes even with fighters.
2. Syria shares a border with Israel and constitutes another remote front line for Iran in case of a war with Israel.
3. Syria is the only land route to Southern Lebanon. Without an Iran friendly government in Damascus Hezbollah would not last long in any conflict.

The departure of the Syrian army from Lebanon in 2005 marked the rise of Salafi militants in that country. These forces have at times not only attacked Hezbollah but also engaged the Lebanese army.
As early as in the first months of the start of the Syrian war Salafi militants from Lebanon were intruding Syria and attacking the police and armed forces.

Iranian military strategists recognized the threat immediately: A sectarian insurgency enjoying the support of western powers, Israel, Turkey and the Gulf States, getting arms, funds, equipment and training from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the CIA while being romanticized and whitewashed by western and arab mainstream media would overpower the Syrian government. It was only a question of time.

As predictable as the pending fall of the Syrian ally was, it was also clear that the various backers of the insurgency shared one motivation: hatred of Iran and – as far as the Gulf states were concerned  – the Shia.
Iran could not afford to wait and see waves of foreign Jihadis arrive in Syria to not only „liberate“ the country from the „Nusayri infidels“ (derogatory term for Alawites) but in a further step move on to defeat the „Rafidhi“ (derogatory term for Shias) Hezbollah nearby in Lebanon.

What would happen next?
Since 2003 Iraq has been experiencing years of relentless bombings and massacres against the Shia majority (mostly civilians and including Sunnis living among Shias) carried out by radical islamists, many of them Arabs from Gulf countries. To make things worse Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), presumed dead, resurfaced as ISIS and intensified devastating terror attacks and warfare both in Syria and Iraq.
It was not far fetched to assume that after defeating the Syrian army and Hezbollah Syrias sectarian insurgency  would export the emerging „caliphate“ to Iraq to fight and defeat the Shia government. Despite the Shia making up some 70-75% of the Arab Iraqis the fall of the formally Sunni Saddam government was a thorn in Saudi Arabias eyes and continues to be hardly acceptable even 14 years later.

Iran had and has no interest in having hordes of sectarian „Majoos“ (derogatory term for Iranians used by Arabs) hating islamists on its borders. The decision to dispatch Hezbollah to the Syrian battlefields was nothing but the correct anticipation of an upcoming deadly menace to Irans security and territorial integrity.
In Syria Hezbollah continues to suffer casualties but has managed to contribute heavily to the survival of the government and the rolling back of the jihadists. Hezbollah engaged and defeated both Al Qaeda and Isis in Lebanon as well as on Syrian battle fronts. Without Hezbollah fighting Isis near the Iraqi border in eastern Syria the Iraqi army would have a much harder time defeating Isis in Mossul.

Hezbollahs proven capabilities in assymetrical warfare are a major reason why so far Israel has refrained from attacking Iran.
Plus, as mentioned, Hezbollah managed to severely weaken the anti-Iranian, predominantly Salafi insurgency in Syria and choke off any domino effects leading to the reestablishment of an anti-Iranian government in Iraq.

About Senator Tom Cotton who wrote the letter to Iran signed by 47 republican Senators

Should one laugh or weep?

„The letter’s alleged author, 37 year old freshman Senator Cotton, had been in office all of 62 days when the document was sent directly to the government in Tehran on March 8 th. He had started circulating the draft for signatures the day after Netanyahu spoke, suggesting that it was already prepared and not a spontaneous act. An Army veteran with combat tours, Cotton is a hardliner chickenhawk though minus the chicken, which makes him a valuable commodity in the exclusive armchair warrior club that some call the Republican Party. But even that fraternity has sometimes found him too extreme. In 2014 he told voters that ISIS was working with Mexican drug cartels to stage attacks in Arkansas and while a Congressmen he sought to imprison the entire families of those suspected of violating Iran sanctions, to include the grandchildren of the convicted.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41276.htm

Would this be in a 3rd world country Americans or Europeans would call it a „banana republic“ or „rogue state“ but the party behind this awkward idea is the US congress.

Netanyahus nonsensical speech to the US Congress

„In a speech to US Congress punctuated by standing ovations, Benjamin Netanyahu depicted Iran as a „threat to the entire world“.“
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31716684

Raising claims and making the wildest accusations is easy, but on what grounds does Netanyahu want to substantiate his claim or even prove it?
Unlike Israel, Iran…
– has not attacked any country for 200 years
– does not occupy foreign territory
– has no nuclear weapons

Yes, it´s true: Iran has no nuclear weapons and there are not even indications that Iran plans to build a bomb. This is not a mere claim by „naive“ people who turn a blind eye on obvious truths but an assertion based on solid facts provided by the best people qualified to judge the situation and make statements: The „National Intelligence Estimate“ (NIE), the creme de la creme of the American intelligence community:

„Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies. “
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/25/world/middleeast/us-agencies-see-no-move-by-iran-to-build-a-bomb.html?_r=0

„“This deal doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, it paves Iran’s path to the bomb,“ Mr Netanyahu said, claiming Iran could have 100 nuclear bombs within five years.“
Well, why should one still trust Netanyahu?
First of all, he has been giving the same warnings for two decades now, even in the time when he was the leader of the opposition to former Premier Minister Rabin in the mid 90s.
„According to various Israeli government predictions over the years, Iran was going to have a bomb by the mid-90s — or 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, and finally 2010. More recent Israeli predictions have put that date at 2011 or 2014.“
http://www.salon.com/2010/12/05/israeli_predictions_iranian_nukes/

Also: „Netanyahu in 1992: Iran close to having nuclear bomb
Imminent Iran nuclear threat? A timeline of warnings since 1979.

Second, Israels own secret service Mossad is contradicting Netanyahu:
„…the Mossad memo…dated October 22, 2012…contradicted the Israeli leader’s U.N. speech on several critical points of fact, including how far away Iran was from bomb-making capacity and whether it even had the ability to produce weapons-grade uranium.“
http://forward.com/articles/215562/benjamin-netanyahu-s-iran-exaggerations-now-clea/?utm_content=DailyNewsletter_TopArea_Position-2_Headline&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Weekly%20%2B%20Daily&utm_campaign=Weekly_Newsletter_Friday%202015-02-27

Third, his most recent lie angered the US state department:
„The state department later complained about Mr Netanyahu’s claim that Mr Kerry had „confirmed last week that Iran might legitimately possess“ 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium by the end of any deal and would be „weeks away“ from an „arsenal of nuclear weapons“.

The state department said: „That’s not what Kerry said. He [said]: ‚If you have a civilian power plant that’s producing power legitimately and not a threat to proliferation, you could have as many as 190,000.““
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31722493

Apparently many high ranking members of Israels military and intelligence community do not share Netanyahus paranoic concerns:
„Iran doesn’t pose an “existential threat” to Israel, as stated by Mossad director Tamir Pardo in a December 2011 speech and repeated since then by former IDF chief Dan Halutz and former Mossad director Efraim Halevy.“
In his speech Netanyahu plunges into the history of antiquity to prove a supposed and ongoing Persian hostility towards Jews by referring to the story of Esther:
„We’ll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.“

Netanyahus twisting of the story is brazen beyond imagination:
1. If Persians hated Jews why and how was Esther a „queen“ in the Persian (Achaemenid) empire?
2. Esther, a single Jewish woman was not in a position to save the Jews. It was in fact the Persian emperor Xerxes who had the power to disempower Haman and leave the Jews unharmed.
3. Cyrus, the Great, Xerxes grand father and founder of the Persian dynasty rescued the Jews from the babylonian captivity. The story is even included in the Bible.
4. Above all, from a historical point of view the story seems to be an invention as outlined here: http://www.lobelog.com/purim-when-bad-history-makes-bad-policy/

Netanyahu laments that Americans have been killed through Iranian proxies in Lebanon and Iraq, but:
– The last time lebanese Hezbollah harmed any Americans was in the 1980s and it happened in Lebanon. Hezbollah did not attack the US elsewhere, let alone in America
– Iran has not killed any Americans in the last 30+ years. Even the hostages were all released unharmed in 1981
– Israel has indeed killed Americans
http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/ussliberty.html
http://www.veteranstoday.com/2012/06/07/alan-hart-israels-attack-on-the-uss-liberty-the-full-story/
– Many American soldiers died in Iraq and Afghanistan but Iran did not attack them there and Iran did not „recommend“ the US to attack those countries. It was Israel, to be more precise it was Netanyahu:
http://www.timesofisrael.com/kerry-accuses-netanyahu-of-cheerleading-2003-iraq-war/
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/26/world/middleeast/kerry-reminds-congress-netanyahu-advised-us-to-invade-iraq.html

Netanyahu says that Iran is hardly any different than IS(IS) and tries to portray the Assad government, Hezbollah, the Iraqi Shia militias and the Yemeni Houthis as the equivalents of IS, but as a matter of fact:
– Syrias army, Hezbollah and the Iraqi Shia militias have been fighting IS and Al Qaeda (Syrias Al Nusra Front) for years. They have killed much more radical Islamists in their real and true „war on terror“ than the US has done through airstrikes
– Israel has not attacked any of these Jihadi terrorists, but has shot down Syrian war planes, shelled the Syrian armys bases and given cover to the Islamists in their fight against the Syrian state
– The Houthis are fighting Al Qaeda in Yemen. The same Al Qaeda that the US occasionally bombs there, too. The Houthis have not beheaded, crucified or mass executed hundreds of disarmed prisoners. Nor have they enslaved women and children from minorities

Netanyahu said that Irans religious leader Khamenei has „twittered“ for Israels elimination. While this is true, one must read carefully. Khamenei does NOT say that Jews or the Israeli population must be exterminated, nor that the country must be destroyed physically. What he is calling for is the removal of the Israeli state as the „institution“ governing the geographical territory of pre-1948 Palestine. Khamenei explicitly says:
„the elimination of Israel does not mean the massacre of jewish people“. He even considers Jews inside Israel and abroad as people taking part in a future referendum about the succeeding state:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/irans-supreme-leader-ayatollah-khamenei-outlines-plan-to-eliminate-israel-9850472.html
„Elimination“ surely sounds tough but it´s not different than the often requested Israeli desires for „regime change“ in Iran through military means.

It might be useful to know a couple of things about Jews in Iran. After all, according to Netanyahu Iran wants to exterminate Jews. Look at this:
1. List of Synagogues in Tehran alone: https://twitter.com/GrantBrooke/status/572798502943784960/photo/1
2. Jews in todays Islamic Republic of Iran: http://theotheriran.com/tag/jews/    (Does not look like they are fearing pogroms, what?)
You won´t see Jewish Synagogues vandalized in Iran or Jewish cemeteries desecrated. Unlike Europe, by the way.

Why is Iran called „terror supporter“ but Turkey not???

It is almost inconceivable to call or even imagine Nato member and EU membership candidate Turkey as „terror supporter“.
On the other hand it is a „fact“ for western media to consider Iran as such. But is this justified and if yes on what grounds?

Some facts:
The last time Iranian nationals killed anyone must have been in 1991/92 when former Iranian president Bakhtiar and artist Farrokhzad were murdered in Paris and Vienna. Since then there have been no acts of international terrorism with direct Iranian involvement, notwithstanding that both mentioned victims were Iranians themselves and no „foreigners“.

Western media and politicians, however, accuse Iran of terrorism because of that country´s support of Palestinian resistance groups (Hamas and Islamic Jihad) as well as Lebanese Hezbollah, but this is a very biased perception of things.
Starting with the latter, Hezbollah entered a truce with Israel in 2000. The truce was only interrupted for a month in 2006 and then continued. In the last 9 years since then Hezbollah did not attack any Israeli civilians at all and only on very few occasions attacked the Israeli army, each time in response to Israeli aggressions.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad have indeed attacked Israeli civilians but following circumstances have to be considered:
a) Neither of these organizations is Iranian or even Shia Muslim
b) None of them was founded or hosted by Iran. None of them „imports“ fighters from Iran
c) Iran has no boundary with them (Palestine) and has no land-, sea- or airbased supply line to reach them
d) Both of them are local resistance movements with legitimate motivation. They are fighting against an alien occupation force (Israel) that has put a siege on their territory (Gaza), builds illegal settlements on their land (West Bank) and heavily bombards their territory (Gaza) with airforce and artillery.

Looking only at the major military operations of the Israeli army in the last 7 years it turns out that some 2700 Palestinian civilians were killed, while only 8 (eight) Israeli civilians were killed.
Pro-Israeli media would highlight that Hamas (and other Palestinian groups) have „rained down“ rockets on Israel and attacked civilians this way, but they will probably not mention that this has resulted in no more than 15 Israeli civilian deaths between 2001 and 2014:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamas#Attacks_on_civilians

So, Irans support of a (democratically elected) Palestinian political party which legitimately has a military arm has been enough to qualify for the incriminating phrase „terror supporter“…

 

The less one should belittle violence against civilians which is always worthy of condemnation the more one has to scrutinize the role of Turkey in Syrias civil war.

Turkey has not only incited against the Syrian government, but worse, given safe haven to Syrias rebel groups and allowed international Jihadists to use Turkey as a hub to enter Syria:
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/an-obvious-first-step–close-the-jihadis-highway-9687899.html

Turkey facilitated and promoted the housing, funding, arming, training and smuggling into Syria of all kinds of syrian and non-syrian rebels, of which a sizable or possibly the major portion were sectarian and radical islamists, not interested in establishing democracy and introducing the human rights the west so much pretends to care for. The rebels could cross the Syrian border to stage hit and run attacks with the Syrian army being under threat of getting attacked by Turkish forces upon coming „too close“ to the border.
„…Joe Biden revealed to the embarrassment of the administration in a talk at Harvard on 2 October. He said that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had promoted ‘a proxy Sunni-Shia war’ in Syria and ‘poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad – except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaida and the extremist element of jihadis coming from other parts of the world’. He admitted that the moderate Syrian rebels, supposedly central to US policy in Syria, were a negligible military force.“‚
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n21/patrick-cockburn/whose-side-is-turkey-on

It is unnecessary to recount the many attrocities and horrific crimes (mass shootings and beheadings of disarmed opponents, kidnapping and enslaving of women and children and the forced marriages of women to fellow Jihadists, crucifying civilians, burning prisoners of war, throwing down people from rooftops…) of the „Islamic State“ (IS, former ISIS), that was reinforced by thousands of international Jihadists who regularly entered Turkey and entered Syria (and Iraq) through that country.

Another major rebel group known for indiscriminate violence and clearly sectarian killings which has been sheltered and supported by Turkey is the al Nusra Front (or Jabhat al Nusra, JAN), Syrias Al Qaeda branch:
„Ford said part of the problem was that too many rebels – and their patrons in Turkey and Qatar – insisted that Nusra was a homegrown, anti-Assad force when in fact it was an al Qaida affiliate whose ideology was virtually indistinguishable from the Islamic State’s.“
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/02/18/257024/once-a-top-booster-ex-us-envoy.html

Apart from these groups, other ones, mainly active in the major cities Damascus and Aleppo and often spoken of as „moderate rebels“ are shelling civilians on a daily basis. Of course, western and anti-Syrian arab media have been either totally ignoring or downplaying these deadly attacks by uncritically and irresponsibly repeating the rebel´s „explanations“ and „justifications“ of their crimes: namely that the victims are no real civilians but „Shabihha“ or „regime loyalists“.
The rebels favourite weapon is the so called „hell cannon“, which has a very limited accuracy and fires propane gas cylinders:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2862517/My-gun-bigger-gun-increasingly-outlandish-weaponry-used-wage-war-Syria.html
Here is a picture:
Free Syrian Army fighter a prepare to fire a home-made rocket in Ashrafieh

Here is a picture showing a „moderate“ who holds a „rocket“ which he has named „a gift for election day“:
https://twitter.com/edwardedark/status/473188892741742592

The „hell cannon“ and other mortars and rockets are fired regularly at government-held west Aleppo where they kill many civilians every WEEK:
https://twitter.com/edwardedark/status/571287191575506944
Now, referring to the title of this article, is it not fair and proven to assert that Turkey has blatantly and heavily engaged in support of terrorism? Has not Turkeys support been much more direct and deadly (in terms of casualties) for Syrian (and Iraqi) civilians in less than 4 years that Irans alleged terror support in the last 15 years?

 

 

 

American foreign policy „logic“ regarding Syria, Iran and the „Islamic State“

What is going on in Syria with regards to the „Islamic State“ (former ISIS) is appalling:
The Syrian Army is waging heavy attacks on IS positions everyday, while the US is claiming that IS is a creation of the Syrian government or its „ally“.
At the same time the US considers Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia „coalition partners“ in the fight against IS, while all of them have been funding, arming and supporting IS for years.
The US wants to invest even more in the „moderate rebels“ of the so called „Free Syrian Army“, an entity that mostly exists on paper and hardly plays a role in Syrias civil war. Now, these „moderates“ who are supposed to do the ground fighting have openly declared a „truce“ with IS because both want to fight against the Syrian government. The deal was brokered by Al Qaidas affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front.

So, according to „American foreign policy „logic“:
„Moderate“ rebels who work with Al Qaida (Nusra) and make truce with IS = Good
Syrian government that fights Al Qaida and IS = Bad

It becomes even more bizarre:
„John Kerry says Iranian role in coalition to confront Islamic State in Syria precluded by support of Damascus regime“
http://live.aljazeera.com/Event/Syria_Live_Blog/126725135

This is just as rational as if Stalin had said in 1945 that the Americans are not entitled to be part of the „allies“ against Nazi Germany because they support England (who was already fighting Nazi Germany).
At the same time the Americans support the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq in their fight against IS. ==> Kurdish Peshmerga who fight IS = Good
Now, listen what the Kurds say about Iran:
„“They gave us rockets, cannons, maps,“ a grateful Bakhtiar said of the Iranians, gesturing at the large-scale maps competing for wall space. „We needed these things badly.“
The Kurdish leader also confirmed the presence of consultants from the Pasdaran, also known as the Revolutionary Guard — who, he said, „were very helpful““
http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-iraq-iran-20140915-story.html

What is Obamas (true) problem with Syria?

Sure, Syria under the Assads was no paradise of human rights, but which other arab country in that region is better?
At least Syria is a secular government. Sunni, Alawi, Druze, Christians, women and men, all can and are pilots, teachers, doctors, Generals, foot soldiers, ministers. Can you say that about Saudi Arabia?
Plus, Syria kept a 40 year peace with Israel until today and has not attacked any country.
So, what the hell is the problem the Nato countries have with Syria? Did Assad torture their people?
If the „lack of legitimacy“ is an issue, what about Qatar? Has anyone there elected the ruler democratically?
If they say it is nepotism and family rulership, what about Kuwait? Is it not the same family ruling there for decades?
If it is the suppression of human rights and freedom of press, what about Bahrain? There a minority not only rules but also sidelines the majority totally, visible through the fact that Shia are absent from ministerial posts, the army and the security services. Instead the monarchy naturalizes Pakistani, Jordanian and other Sunnis to tip the demographic situation to the disadvantage of the indigenous Shia.
Despite having not a fraction of the petrodollars of the Gulf States Syria hosted hundreds of thousands of mostly Sunni Palestinian refugees for decades. How many Palestinian refugees live in Qatar and Saudi Arabia?

ISIS, Maliki and the Sunnis

Two popular mistakes should be identified and avoided:

1. It is not merely ISIS against the Iraqi army. ISIS is the spearhead and the combat wise most experienced and effective single group of a variety of Sunni militias that are fighting the Iraqi armed forces. Not all of these 7 or 8 groups are radical islamists and sectarian. Many are tribal fighters disaffected with the central government which they accuse of having sidelined, oppressed and marginalized Sunnis for years. Others are former Baathists, thus more or less secular minded or nationalists, among them the Naqshbandy army.

2. Though it is true that especially the Maliki government is highly corrupt and has acted in sectarian ways, this is not merely because Malikis regime is backed by Iran or simply hates Sunnis. While ISIS as the name of a specific organization only exists since  a couple of years, the hatred ideology of takfiri salafism in post-Saddam Iraq is not that new. As early as in 2003 systematic and wide scale deadly attacks against Shia police, army recruits and especially ordinary civilians began to occur at least on a weekly basis. Suicide bombers and car bombs killed hundreds of Shia every month, targeting them in mosques, at market places, in Cafes and restaurants and even at funerals. Many Shia clerics were assassinated few months after the US invasion in 2003, e.g. Ayatollah Hakim:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Baqir_al-Hakim#Assassination

Not all but many instances of power abuse at the hands of Shia militias and Iraqi armed forces were a reaction to the relentless and high casualty bombings of Shia areas. Neither Iran nor the Iraqi Shia clergy brought sectarianism to Iraq. It was the „achievement“ – and not an incidental one – of Wahhabi/Salafi ideologues from the GCC countries awash in money and relying on arabic mass media in shape of several satellite channels broadcasting anti-Shia and anti-Iranian hate mongering all around the clock.

It is wrong to declare Sunni opposition to the Iraqi regime as „terrorism“ and not every Sunni insurgent fighting the Iraqi army is a takfiri. The Sunni opposition is legitimate but it suffers from being associated with ISIS and similar minded sectarian jihadists.