عربي | كوردى



Iran could rally regional proxies in case of war with the US

Iran could rally regional proxies in case of war with the US

2019/05/18 | 02:05

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)- In the event of war with the United States, Iran “will not

be alone.”That message was delivered by the leader of Lebanon’s

Hezbollah militant group to a mass rally in Beirut in February marking the 40th

anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. “If America launches war on Iran, it

will not be alone in the confrontation, because the fate of our region is tied

to Iran,” Hassan Nasrallah said.From Lebanon and Syria to Iraq, Yemen, and the Gaza Strip,

Tehran has significantly expanded its footprint over the past decade, finding

and developing powerful allies in conflict-ravaged countries across the Middle

East. Hezbollah is one of the most prominent members of the self-styled “axis

of resistance,” armed groups with tens of thousands of Shiite Muslim fighters

beholden to Tehran.Iran has used such groups in the past to strike its regional

foes, and could mobilize them if the latest tensions with the United States

lead to an armed conflict — dramatically expanding the battlefield.Here’s a look at Tehran’s allies in the Mideast:HEZBOLLAHThe militia, whose Arabic name translates into “Party of

God,” was established by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard during Lebanon’s civil war

in the 1980s. Today it is among the most effective armed groups in the region,

extending Iran’s influence to Israel’s doorstep.In a paper for the Brookings Institute earlier this year,

former US Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman described the group as

revolutionary Iran’s “most successful export” and Tehran’s “multi-purpose

tool.”Hezbollah was formed to combat Israel following its invasion

of Lebanon in 1982. It waged an 18-year guerrilla war against Israeli forces,

eventually forcing them to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000. Six years later, it

battled Israel to a bloody stalemate in a monthlong war.Today, the group has an arsenal of tens of thousands of

rockets and missiles that can reach deep into Israel, as well as thousands of

highly disciplined and battle-hardened fighters. Hezbollah has fought alongside

government forces in Syria for more than six years, gaining even more

battlefield experience and expanding its reach.At home, the group’s power exceeds that of the Lebanese

armed forces, and along with its allies has more power than ever in the

parliament and government.Despite the rhetoric, Hezbollah says it is not seeking

another war with Israel, and it is not likely to join in any regional

confrontation — at least not in the early stages — unless provoked. Hezbollah

has lost hundreds of fighters in Syria, exacting a heavy toll on the Shiite

community from which it draws most of its support.THE HOUTHISYemen’s Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, swept down from the

north and captured the capital, Sanaa, in 2014. A Saudi-led coalition entered

the conflict on the side of the government the following year. The war has

since killed tens of thousands of people and generated the world’s worst

humanitarian crisis.Saudi Arabia views the Houthis as an Iranian proxy, and

along with Western nations and UN experts has accused Tehran of providing arms

to the rebels, including the long-range missiles they have fired into Saudi

Arabia. Iran supports the rebels but denies arming them.The Houthis have given up little ground since the coalition

entered the war, and have targeted the Saudi capital, Riyadh, with long-range

missiles. Earlier this week they claimed a drone attack that shut down a major

oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia, which responded with airstrikes on Yemen’s

rebel-held capital that killed civilians.IRAQ’S IMIS MILITIASIran has trained, financed, and equipped Shiite militias in

Iraq that battled US forces in the years after the 2003 invasion and remobilized

to battle the ISIS group a decade later.The groups include Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Kataeb Hezbollah and

the Badr Organization, all three led by men with close ties to Gen. Qassem

Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the architect of Tehran’s

regional strategy.The militias fall under the umbrella of Iraq’s Iranian

Militias in Iraq and Syria (IMIS), a collection of mostly Shiite militias that

were incorporated into the country’s armed forces in 2016. Together they number

more than 140,000 fighters, and while they fall under the authority of Iraq’s

prime minister, the IMIS’s top brass are politically aligned with Iran.US forces and the IMIS fought side-by-side against ISIS

militants after Iraq’s parliament invited the US back into the country in 2014.

But now that the war is largely concluded, some militia leaders are calling on

US troops to leave again, threatening to expel them by force if necessary. This

week, the US ordered all nonessential government staff to leave Iraq, amid unspecified

threats in the region said to be linked to Iran.GAZA MILITANTSIran has long supported Palestinian militant groups,

including Gaza’s Hamas rulers and particularly the smaller Islamic Jihad group.Hamas fell out with Iran after the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings,

losing millions of dollars in monthly assistance. The group today is in a

severe financial crisis; its employees and public servants in Gaza have not

been paid full salaries in years.Tehran is said to have continued its military support to Hamas’

armed wing, but the group appears to get most of its aid from Qatar, making it

less likely that it would rally to Tehran’s side in a regional conflict.

Islamic Jihad, another Sunni militant group, is seen as much closer to Iran but

still not as deeply intertwined as Hezbollah or other groups.Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched hundreds of rockets from

Gaza during a bout of fighting with Israel earlier this month. Israel accused

Islamic Jihad of triggering the violence, which was the worst since a 2014 war.

The movement did not deny the Israeli accusations.











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