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.

Why Hillary is completely wrong on Syria

According to this superb article by Patrick Cockburn, we are to expect new or increased american military intervention in the Middle East, particularly in Syria:

„…a report by the Centre for a New American Security (CNAS) in Washington that recommends that the destruction of Isis should no longer be the overriding objective of the US in Syria, but that equal priority should be given to taking military action against President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian Army.“

This apparently requires „A new pro-US armed opposition would be built up to fight Assad, Isis, al-Nusra and other al-Qaeda clones“.

Now take a closer look:
The Syrian Army (and allies), Isis, Al-Nusra and her Al Qaeda sisters such as Ahrar al Sham and co. have a combined man power of around 200.000 men. The loyalist factions posses both airforce and air defense. All parties together in total field thousands of tanks, armored vehicles, rocket launchers, artillery pieces and other short and mid range explosive weapons. Most important than all of this: All of the parties have 5 years of experience in irregular warfare, mastering the use of tunnels and tunnel bombs, DIY weapons, IEDs etc.
And now, a hitherto non-existent new army is going to rise in their midst and fight them all. No matter how much support the US airforce and even any special ground forces were to contribute this adventure is doomed to fail.
If you doubt this, I may refer to Afghanistan:
There the Americans/Nato had a major well-armed and -trained ally (15-20k men of the Northern Alliance), heavy ground presence (tens of thousands of Nato soldiers), an Afghan president representing the ethnic majority of the country (Pushtuns), no relevant sectarian element (broad majority of Afghans are Sunnis; Shia Hazaras very small group that was never in power), an enemy with little history of holding power (Taliban were in power just since 5 years when the Americans attacked in 2011).
15 years later the Afghan army built by Nato is hardly capable to defend against the Taliban without the help of the US airforce. The government has never regained full control of remote areas of the country and of the Pushtun heartland. The Taliban regularly stage attacks in the middle of Kabul inflicting casualties in Afghan and international troops.

Hillary and her „think tanks“ won´t care about all this. Instead she will elaborate that Syria is not Afghanistan, that the situation and the conditions are „totally different“…

 

 

Truths about the Yarmouk camp that western mainstream media and Arab channels suppress

The twisted and flawed „logic“ of many western and (Gulf) Arab media outlets regarding the Yarmouk camp of Palestinian refugees in Damascus goes as follows:
– The Palestinians in Yarmouk (but also in other camps) hate Assad and support the „revolution“
– Assad and the Syrian government (who for more than 40 years have been hosting the Palestinians) hate the Palestinians because they are (mostly) Sunnis
– The Syrian army is bombing the camp, keeping it under siege and starving the inhabitants
– The inhabitants love and support the Syrian rebels because the latter „defend“ the Palestinians and fight against the „regime“
– Only anti-Assad Palestinian factions in Yarmouk are fighting against ISIS

If someone is interested in a more authentic and less propagandist version of the camps recent story, I refer to following articles:

<<„There is intermittent fighting between Palestinian factions and IS and Al-Nusra Front which are trying to retake positions in the centre of Yarmuk,“ Khaled Abdel Majid, head of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front which is close to Syria’s regime, told AFP…He said Syrian regime aircraft have bombarded Al-Hajar al-Aswad, which is jihadist-held.>>
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/contents/afp/2015/05/syria-conflict-yarmuk.html

pro-Assad Palestinian militias are fighting a grinding battle to the death against the Islamic State.“
<<“The cease-fire details were in place and ready to be implemented by the end of March 2015 when the terrorists of Daesh and Nusra launched their attack on the camp, scuttling all previous efforts,”>>
„The recent battle against the Islamic State, for instance, saw a number of defections from Hamas-controlled militant group Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis — previously allied with opposition factions in the camp — to the regime side, after the Islamic State beheaded 10 Aknaf men. But other fighters from the group defected to Nusra and the Islamic State. According to Palestinian sources, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who is based in Qatar, made several calls to PFLP-GC leader Jibril, as well as Hezbollah and Amal leaders in Lebanon, in order to secure the safety of Aknaf fighters. Now, approximately 160 Aknaf fighters are fighting alongside the regime
<<Unlike Hamas, we are loyal to Syria. Syria was loyal to Palestine.”>>
http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/05/04/inside-the-ruins-of-yarmouk-refugee-camp-syria/

while the civilian population is suffering the lashes of hunger, thirst and dwindling medical supplies, militants inside the camp appear to be largely unaffected by the siege. On the contrary these groups seem to be well-armed, fully weaponized (at least to the extent that enables them to retain full military control over the majority of the camp despite the ongoing siege) and on multiple occasions have even instigated clashes and firefights with the Syrian army.

This begs the question: what prevents these militants from using their own supply routes and active ammunition channels to soften the impact of the regime-imposed siege on the civilian population inside the camp, keeping in mind that areas bordering Yarmouk from its southern entrance are controlled by the “rebels” themselves? ““
https://radioyaran.com/2015/04/11/why-is-the-yarmouk-camp-suffering-the-true-reasons-not-western-propaganda/

The pro-western liberal and secular democracy after Assad – Really?

Most of the relevant fighting on the rebel side of the Syrian war has been done by the Nusra Front, and the similarly Al Qaeda minded Ahrar al Sham and Jaish al Islam, not to mention many other Al Qaeda or IS splinter groups including Chechen, North African or other Central Asian fighters.
The remnants of the so called „moderates“ have almost never hesitated to work closely with Al Nusra or even IS when it deemed necessary. Therefore all the occasional „bond breakings“ of the so called „Southern Front“ with Al Nusra cannot be taken seriously. One day they announce to have broken all ties with Nusra and opposing them, but when the Syrian army captures two villages they call for Nusra to help.

Now, nobody but extremely naive people believes that the radical and mostly sectarian islamists who bore the brunt of the fighting will lay down their weapons and quit the political field once Assad is defeated and gone/killed. These people have never fought for anything remotely resembling a „western“ civil state with democratic institutions and human rights implementation. Those who demonstrated against Assad will find out (just as Iranians post 1979 and Libyans after Ghaddafi) that what they have gotten is much worse than what they had.
And just like post-Soviet Afghanistan and post-Ghaddafi Libya the many militias will not let anyone disarm them.

The failure in Iraq was „explained“ with the Shia-Sunni conflict, but where are the Shia in Egypt? How many Shias live in Libya? Are the Afghan Shia a relevant force to claim that Taliban enjoy support to „counter balance“ them?
I know that Arab leaders and media are very creative in connecting Iran with any problem in their countries but is Iran „meddling“ in Egypt or Libya? Is Boko Haram in Nigeria or al Shabab in Somalia a „reaction“ to „Iranian expansionism“? Are takfiri groups in Kashmir or in Pakistan suffering from Iranian or „Shia oppression“?

Only complete idiots claim that with the departure of Assad and the victory of the „revolution“ peace and prosperity will return and prevail. Just see how Afghanistan fares, 14 years after „liberation“, after the mission being „accomplished“. And just judge for yourself whether Al Qaeda has been weakened after 14 years of the (seemingly endless) „war on terror“, after killing Bin Laden and after drone assassinations of dozens of Al Qaeda „top commanders“ in Africa, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Supported by no evidence „The Telegraph“ revives the Assad-ISIL cooperation myth

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11455602/Oil-middleman-between-Syria-and-Isil-is-new-target-for-EU-sanctions.html
Below some ridiculous and hollow claims that anyone can easily refute:

„the rise of the jihadist movement [ISIL] has served Mr Assad’s interests by allowing him to pose as an essential bulwark against Islamist terrorism.“
Wrong: Before and parallel to ISIL there were and are jihadist movement that are hardly less sectarian and radical: The Nusra Front, The Islamic Front…
https://radioyaran.com/2014/09/11/the-vetted-moderate-rebels-of-the-free-syrian-army-who-and-where-are-they/

„Isil fighters captured the oilfields of eastern Syria in 2013. Since then, the regime is believed to have funded the jihadists by purchasing oil from Isil.“
Ah…so, the author and his sources do not KNOW anything, they just speculate.

„the regime is understood to be running some oil and gas installations jointly with the terrorist movement.“
Really? Then, why is the „regime“ vehemently fighting ISIL at the Jadal gas fields in eastern Homs province? And more important: Why is ISIL attacking it´s „customer“ and „oil and gas provider“ if they are maintaining a „joint venture“?

„Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary…added: „…yet another indication that Assad’s ‚war‘ on Isil is a sham and that he supports them financially.““
The Syrian Army suffered some of its highest casualties in major battles against ISIL:

a) at the Tabqa military airport in Raqqa province
For months Tabqa was besieged and under continuous attacks by ISIL:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Al-Tabqa_air_base
In addition to the hundreds of soldiers killed in battle, another 200 army soldiers were taken captive and executed:
„Following the capture of Tabqa air base a number of images and videos have been posted online showing around 200+ men, reportedly captured soldiers, being marched out into the desert and executed.“
https://bellingcat.checkdesk.org/en/story/60

b) at the Jadal or „Al Shaer“ gas fields:
„The victorious Islamic State summarily executed an estimated 300 captured regime soldiers and civilian employees“
http://syriadirect.org/main/30-reports/1719-prelude-to-a-massacre-the-downfall-of-a-raqqa

c) at the Division 17 and Brigade 93 in Raqqa province:
„Hundreds of Syrian army soldiers scattered to the safety of nearby villages still opposed to the Islamic State, or fled to the Syrian army’s 93rd Brigade, roughly 45km northwest of Division 17. An estimated 50 caught inside Division 17 were quickly killed, their heads removed and rammed on metal pikes lining the streets and parks of A-Raqqa city. More than 85 Syrian army soldiers died during the Islamic State’s final operation to capture Division 17“
http://syriadirect.org/main/30-reports/1719-prelude-to-a-massacre-the-downfall-of-a-raqqa

d) at Regiment 121 in al Hasakah province:
„in Al-Hasakah province, the Islamic State commander Umar Al-Shishani led a near simultaneous assault against Regiment 121..The Islamic State claims to have killed more than 100 soldiers at Regiment 121“
http://syriadirect.org/main/30-reports/1719-prelude-to-a-massacre-the-downfall-of-a-raqqa

As a matter of fact and for many months the Syrian Army has deployed two of its most experienced commanders to fight ISIL: In Eastern Homs it was until recently Colonel Suhayl al Hassan, the commander of the special forces unit „The Tiger forces“. During the most crucial operations he was assisted by another special forces unit called the „Desert Falcons“.
In Deir al Zour the government forces are led by nobody less than Major General Issam Zhahreddine.
Despite the above mentioned setbacks the Syrian Army has inflicted heavy losses on ISIL, among them:
„On 28 August, Syrian fighter jets launched a precise attack on an IS HQ in the city of Mohasan, during a meeting between military leaders and sharia judges. The attack resulted in the death of most leaders inside (numbering six), while others were wounded.[20][50] Another airstrike occurred the same day against an IS camp near Baath Dam, killing and wounding dozens of insurgents“
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Eastern_Syria_offensive

And just today the following was reported:
„In Hama province, meanwhile, government forces conducted air strikes on an IS convoy, killing 26 jihadists, including a senior local commander, the Syrian Observatory for Human rights said.“
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/contents/afp/2015/03/syria-conflict-is-assyrian.html

So, the only „sham“ and the true shame, Mr. Hammond, is your alarming lack of knowledge with regards to an army that – contrary to yours, the UKs – is fighting the real war on terror, while paying a high price in human blood.

 

BBC tries to sugarcoat the Al Nusra Front, Syrias Al Qaeda branch

Seriously, what is this BBC article meant to achieve?
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31764114

One cannot help but to get the impression the author wants to downplay the Nusra Fronts evil and explain in what way this sectarian terrorist organization can be purified and euphemized. Reading carefully (and between the lines) it becomes obvious that the „logic“ applied is twisted, flawed and deeply disturbing.

Let´s go through some of the statements and „arguments“ of the author aiming to explain (or justify?) Qatars attempt to „rebrand“ Al Nusra:

„Firstly, there are no „good choices“ in Syria today. Qatar has surmised, it seems, that supporting or transforming the Nusra Front, is one of the „least worst“ options.“
Some questions/remarks:
1. Even if there were really no „good choices“ why does Qatar think it must intervene at any price at all? In how far are the alleged or real offenses of the Syrian government hurting or affecting Qatar that this remote and tiny country considers it righful to chose the „least worst“ option?
2. Why has Qatar invested billions of USD in almost all of the many so called „least worst“ options to achieve regime change on the grounds that „Assad is massacring his people“ but at the same time has not given tens (or hundreds) of thousands of Syrian fugitives asylum? Syria had not a twentieth of Qatars resources but hosted hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees.
3. How did Qatar conclude that Al Qaeda in Syria (and nothing else is Al Nusra) is the „least worst“ option? How can a terror group that mass executes unarmed prisoners, behead opponents, is violently sectarian, and has killed thousands of people through suicide bombings be an option at all?

„Secondly, the Nusra Front has pledged to concentrate its efforts on removing the Bashar al-Assad government, as opposed to attacking the „far enemy“ (ie Western states).“
Really? Who was the witness of this „pledge“? Who signed for Al Nusra? And who is going to control that Al Nusra stays loyal to it? Had not Al Nusra earlier pledged obedience to IS leader al Baghdadi? And later to Al Qaedas Ayman al Zawahiri?
So, what is the pledge of a bunch of cutthroats worth?
So, as long as Al Nusra suicide bombs Syrian soldiers and „pro-regime“ civilians (which they simply denounce as „Shabiha“), throws Alawites and „pro-regime“ Sunnis into ovens and executes women for adultery BUT refrains from attacking western states, there is little to object, what?
Is this not a sick way of thinking and acting?

„This is why Qatar is hoping to bring the Nusra Front in from the cold. If the state can get the group to eschew its al-Qaeda affiliation and adhere to a broadly moderate Islamist platform, Qatar can officially commence, with Western blessing, the supply of one of the most effective fighting forces in Syria. “
This is all incredibly ridiculous and an insult to anyone (except Qataris and Salafis) intelligence:
We are supposed to absolve Al Nusra from all their beheadings and atrocities the moment they simply announce they do not belong to Al Qaeda anymore? Nusra (and similiar radical Islamists actions and mindset) is evil because of it´s nature, motivation and results, not because of that peoples official „membership“ to a vague umbrella group.

In the Qalamoun area on the Syrian-Lebanese border Al Nusra is continuing to work closely with IS, so their actions should be relevant and not their formal dissociation from Al Qaeda. Thousands of Syrian and non-Syrian extremists explicitly joined Al Nusra because of this groups uncompromising and highly sectarian Jihadism. These folks do not become moderates overnight only if their leadership grudingly accepts to abandon Al Qaeda in order to get more and better arms.

See also here:
https://radioyaran.com/2015/03/05/why-the-nusra-front-is-moderate-and-assad-is-the-magnet-of-terrorism/

 

Why the Nusra Front is „moderate“ and Assad is the „magnet of terrorism“

It seems that creativity with regards to twisting facts and changing definitions beyond recognition is a key strength of rightwing american think tanks and neoconservative policy makers.

A „moderate“ muslim is normally supposed to be a liberal, secular, non-sectarian and non-violent muslim. None of this applies to Syrias Al Nusra Front, IS or any of the many Salafi Islamists fighting against the Syrian government and for the establishment of an „islamic state“, „emirate“ or otherwise Sharia based government.
Yet, James Clapper, the „Director of National Intelligence“ has now simply decided to redefine „moderate“:
„Moderate these days is increasingly becoming anyone who is not affiliated with ISIL“¹

So, Al Nusra, a vehemently sectarian Jihadi faction that mass executes disarmed prisoners and beheads captives could suddenly be considered „moderate“, because the group is fighting ISIL (or IS) as well. Al Nusra, by the way, also executes women, e.g. for the „crime“ of adultery:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/14/us-mideast-crisis-syria-qaeda-idUSKBN0KN16520150114

Maybe, someone should inform Mr. Clapper that the Syrian Army and it´s allies, the National Defense Forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah are fighting IS as well. Probably these forces are the ones that have inflicted the heaviest casualties on IS and themselves suffered the highest casualties as well. A major battle ground has been and is the province of Raqqa and now increasingly Deir al Zour. The Syrian Army fights IS also in Qalamoun and on the Syrian-Lebanese border, where – listen Mr. Clapper – IS and al Nusra have been cooperating and coordinating operations for a long time.

Now, Qatar, which is an „Arab partner“ openly admits that it is supporting the same al Nusra that has been designated a terrorist group by the US state department:
„A source close to the foreign ministry confirmed that Qatar wanted Nusra to become a purely Syrian force not linked to al Qaeda. „They are promising Nusra more support, i.e. money, supplies etc, once they let go of the Qaeda ties,“ the official said.„²
Now, how is this possible that Qatar is not punished by sanctions for supporting a terrorist group?

Now, back to James Clapper, who uttered the following nonsense:
„at some point Assad has got to go because, as, particularly many in Europe feel, that the magnet for all this extremism that has found its way to Syria is because of him.“¹

What? So, Assad, whose country is ravaged by a civil war in which his mostly sectarian opponents have been receiving fighters, money, arms and other supplies from Nato member Turkey and the Gulf States and whose armed forces have suffered the highest casualties is the „magnet for all extremism“??? Did Assad invite Libyan, Saudi, Kuwaiti, Tunisian, Moroccan, Chechen…Filipino, Australian, Belgian, German, French…Jihadists to suicide bomb Syrians, both soldiers and civilians?
Would Mr. Clapper or any other genius behind such brainless phrases all Netanyahu the „magnet“ for Palestinian terrorism? How about calling American presidents „magnets“ for 9/11?

¹ http://www.cfr.org/intelligence/kenneth-moskow-memorial-lecture-homeland-security-counterterrorism-james-r-clapper-jr/p36210
² http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/04/us-mideast-crisis-nusra-insight-idUSKBN0M00GE20150304