“Combating Terrorism Center”; The think tank’s assessment in the scope of the Resistance Front’s influence

“Combating Terrorism Center”; The think tank's assessment in the scope of the Resistance Front's influence
Women wave a Lebanese national flag and Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah flags in front of portraits of Iran’s supreme leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah,

PEJOURNAL – The U.S. West Point-based think tank, ” Combating Terrorism Center ” was founded after the September 9/11 and with the support of Vincent Viola, the former president of the New York Stock Exchange in February 2003. The institute aims to produce scientific content on countering terrorist threats against the United States. Now Breen Doodle, an expert in security studies from Georgetown University, manages the think tank. According to the report, the series reviewed the performance of groups in West Asia, given the Resistance Front’s promise to avenge the United States for the assassination of General Soleimani.

Resistance Front West Asia

Hezbollah in Lebanon is the most important resistance front group in West Asia, as well as the strongest in terms of organizational cohesion and operational scope. Founded in 1985 with Iran’s support, the group gradually gained broad domestic support and created two strategic advantages for Iran: a corridor for access to the Mediterranean against threats from the Zionist regime. Hezbollah plays an important role in supporting Palestinian resistance groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad against the occupations and atrocities committed by the occupying Quds Government.

Iran’s relationship with Iraqi resistance groups has three milestones: the first is the Ba’ath government’s invasion of Iran and the formation of the Badr Organization affiliated with the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq, the second is the fall of Saddam and the beginning of the activities of groups such as Jaish al-Mahdi against al-Qaeda and survivors of the Ba’athist regime, as well as the American occupation, and the third is the occupation of Mosul by ISIS and the fatwa of The Jihad of Ayatollah Sistani, which led to the formation of the Hashd al-Shaabi.

With the explanation of this report, it  means that Hashd al-Shaabi, the resistance forces close to Iran such as Kataib Hezbollah, Muakat al-Najba, Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kataib Imam Ali, are not groups directly managed by the prime minister. In Syria also, in addition to the presence of the IRGC advisor to assist the Syrian army, the role of Hezbollah and Hashad al-Shaabi in field operations, as well as the training of other resistance groups such as the Fatimiyoun and Zainabiyoun brigades, can be mentioned.

The figure below shows the number of operations and martyrs of the Resistance Front during different periods in different regions of West Asia, which are from three sources: “Global Terrorism Database”, “Data on the Incidents and Geography of Armed Conflict”, and “Terrorism Database Center and Rebellion” have been taken. The columns show the number of martyrs and the volume chart shows the number of operations.

The assessment of the chart published in this report reveals to some extent the pattern of behavior of the Resistance Front in the fight against terrorism after the start of the Syrian civil war. The weakness of the central government in Damascus and the joining of part of the Lebanese army to the opposition in 2012 led Hezbollah in Lebanon to focus on supporting the legitimate government against takfiri and terrorist groups, which is important to prevent insecurity from spreading to Lebanon.

The increase in the ratio of the number of Hezbollah martyrs to the number of operations from 2015 to 2017 means that so far, Hezbollah has borne the brunt of the fight against terrorism in Syria and has been present in this area with a large number of its forces. In Iraq, due to Ayatollah Sistani’s fatwa, a significant Shiite population, as well as the support of other tribes and religions, including Kurds and Sunnis, in the fight against ISIS terrorism in 2014, reduced the need for a direct Lebanese Hezbollah presence, and emerging groups emerged. The umbrellas were concentrated.

The major operations in 2014, apart from Iraq and Syria, are related to the firefight between the Resistance Front and the Zionist regime in Gaza. Another point is that since 2016 and 2017, with the widespread withdrawal of ISIS from the occupied areas of Iraq, and especially after the liberation of Mosul, other Iraqi resistance groups have rushed to the aid of Hezbollah in Syria, which has resulted in reducing the number of operations and Hezbollah martyrs during this period.

The table below shows the number of operations and martyrs of the IRGC, Hezbollah and other resistance groups in the fight against terrorism in Iraq and Syria from 2013 to 2019. Of course, it should be noted that according to the author, the number of operations and martyrs is minimal and the actual amount is probably a little more than this number.

The data in the table above also illustrates the analysis of Hezbollah’s operational focus on the Syrian crisis and the strengthening of other resistance groups in Iraq. In addition, the fact that there are far fewer IRGC operations and martyrs in both countries than resistance groups proves the veracity of the Iranian advisor’s claim. Most of the IRGC martyrs go back to the 2016 battles in Syria aimed at liberating Aleppo.

In the last months of 2017, as Sardar Soleimani stated in a letter to the Supreme Leader, the Resistance Front ended the ISIL territorial government, which is confirmed by the significant reduction in the number of operations and martyrs.

The author believes that with the strong presence of Hezbollah in Syria, Iran does not need the direct presence of IRGC forces in this country in the coming years and can significantly reduce its forces, while relieving the sensitivities of Western and Arab governments, Zionist regime and some regional governments Abuse will also counteract the escalation of Arab / Ajam sectarian and dual tensions. The article states that in the absence of Sardar Soleimani, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah can even do well in direct management of resistance groups in West Asia, which reduces the need for the direct presence of General Qaani and his insecure consequences.

Resistance Front East Asia and North Africa

Iran’s strategic depth on its eastern borders began with the support of the Afghan Mujahideen against the Soviet occupation. After that, he helped to establish a post-occupation government by helping to form a “coalition of eight” of Shiite tribes and clans in Tehran.

But with the Taliban insurgency, he backed the military loyalists of the legitimate Kabul government, known as the Northern Alliance. It seems that in the current situation, the recent US agreement with the Taliban to withdraw the occupiers from this country, along with the command of General Qaani on the Quds Force, which specializes in managing security issues on the Eastern and Central Asian borders, will increase Iran’s influence in Afghanistan.

The political aspect of this influence is reflected in Iran’s relationship with Hazaras and Shiite politicians, as well as its interaction with the Taliban and its military aspect in organizing the Fatimid brigade to fight ISIS. In Pakistan, the cultural aspect of Iran’s influence goes back to the connection of seminaries with Shiite religious schools and its military aspect goes back to the organization of Zainab brigade forces in defense of the Ahl al-Bayt shrine.

As for the North African countries, however, the report acknowledges that Iran’s activities are based on soft power, propaganda, and mainly cultural consultations. But Hezbollah accuses Lebanon of activities such as arms smuggling and money laundering in these governments. He also claims that the Saraya al-Zahra group in Chad was formed by Iran to attack US interests in Sudan and Eritrea. Despite these allegations, the article is weak in proving evidence of these cases, and the allegation table attributes a very small number of operations in Africa to the Resistance.

In evaluating the above claim table, there are some notable points. First, the report on which groups of the Resistance Front have operated in the above countries uses only the vague term “other groups” and does not mention any names. Secondly, not only the agent but also the goals and subjects of the operations are not clear.

Third, except for Afghanistan and Nigeria, there is no evidence of a direct or indirect presence of the Resistance Front. Regarding Afghanistan, the author suggests that the operations were carried out by the Fatimids against the Khorasan branch of ISIS. In the case of Nigeria, too, the Islamic Movement, which is a peaceful and civilian group engaged solely in social activities, is considered Iran’s proxy force in the country.

In 2015, the Nigerian government cracked down on the group and massacred many Shiites, including several children of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, the movement’s leader. In Somalia, the al-Shabaab terrorist group, an ally of al-Qaeda operatives, ignited a civil war. In Egypt, the brutal crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood during the 2015 coup led some members of the group to despair of peaceful methods and turn to al-Qaeda.

Morocco is also among the countries where many of its fundamentalist forces have joined ISIS. In the case of Pakistan, the author, while acknowledging the operational impossibility of groups aligned with Iran, merely points to the Islamic Republic’s support for Muslims in Kashmir, possibly in line with the Indian government, calling this libertarian tendency tantamount to terrorism.

Conclusion

The assassination of General Soleimani was an unwise act that created much anxiety to U.S. politicians and experts towards the reaction of Iran and the Resistance Front. Although Iran responded to the crime by attacking Ayn al-Assad, some resistance groups may still react accordingly. Therefore, the U.S. government needs to further increase the case for baseless accusations against Iran of supporting terrorism while researching the behavioral future of these groups in various geopolitical locations. Reports like this are being published in order to tighten western pressures by disrupting the Islamic Republic’s interaction routes with the West Asian and North African governments and threatening Iran’s regional program.

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