Forces: Iranian Proxy Network


April 21, 2024: Iran is largely a Farsi (Persian) speaking country in a region where most people speak Arabic. To make matters worse, most of the Arabs are Sunni, which is true throughout the Moslem world. A minority of Moslems are Shia and that includes most Iranians. To make matters worse, Iran has been ruled by an aggressive religious dictatorship since the 1980s. This has led to Iran becoming an outlaw state because its radical religious government insists that Iran must take control of nearby Sunni Arab states, including Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are the custodians of the most sacred religious sites in the Moslem world. The main site is Mecca, which every Moslem, Sunni, or Shia, is obliged to visit once in a lifetime and pray together with Moslems from all factions. Iranian ambitions have led to a perpetual state of war in which Iran battles most other Moslem majority countries.

What makes an aggressive Iran so dangerous is that it does not use Iranians to do its fighting. Instead, Iran has created or taken control of other militant Moslem movements to do Iran’s fighting instead. The enemy is mostly Israel, the United States and Western nations in general, but sometimes includes Sunni Arab governments, usually Saudi Arabia as the Saudis control Mecca which Iran covets. With the recent exception of Iran’s missile attack on Israel, Iran fights its enemies via proxies. These are groups that are armed and supported by Iran to fight Iran’s battles willingly and enthusiastically against Iran’s enemies.

Currently Iran has about two dozen of these proxies throughout the Middle East. Most of these groups have been designated as terrorist organizations by Western nations, especially the United States. Most of these groups were weak, disorganized, and not very dangerous before Iran came along and offered to turn these groups into deadly threats against enemies of Iran.

Among the more dangerous and well known proxies there are groups like Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, the Houthis of Yemen, and Kata’ib Hezbollah, Harakat al Nujaba, Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuhada and Asa’ib Ahl al Haq in Iraq. Iran has proxies in Syria, Iran backs the Afghan Fatemiyoun brigade and the Pakistani Zainebiyoun brigade.

Iran gains a measure of control over these groups by supplying them with weapons, cash, and expert advisers to show them how to be most effective in carrying out attacks against their enemies. Iran has a large number of irregular warfare experts organized into the Quds Force. The Iranians are well organized when it comes to supporting and motivating proxy groups. Quds is the organization that handles all this and supplies individual experts as well as technical assistance to proxy groups Iran deems worthy of such expensive and extensive support. Iran spends at least several hundred million dollars a year on this proxy support, and in the past has spent several billion dollars a year. The decline has been due to Western sanctions but, as the current American government has waived those periodically to the tune of $30-40 billion since October 2023, or given Iran billions of dollars impounded by the American since 1980, Iran might return to sharing more with its proxies.

Iran will lavishly support proxy groups for years before unleashing them in spectacular attacks. A recent example of this was the Hamas offensive in Gaza towards Israel. This was a big success, and the Israelis are still trying to recover. At the same time Iran activated Hezbollah (sort of as Hezbollah is very nervous about pushing the Israelis too far) and several other proxies to take advantage of Israeli forces compelled to fight in many areas at once. This offensive began in late 2023 and will extend to late 2024 and perhaps even into 2025.

Iran gets involved wherever it sees opportunities. For example, Iran provided military aid to Russia for its war in Ukraine. Where Iran sees an opportunity, it acts and that makes Iran very dangerous throughout the Middle East as well as Europe, the United States and even South America.




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