Iran: Capitalizing on Idlib, Betraying its Citizens
Iranian forces appear upbeat as they prepare to attack the remnants of resistance to the Assad regime in Syria. Assuming the tasks and rewards of becoming a regional hegemon in the Middle East, Iran has become the most important ally of China and Russia. Some believe the Iranians are assuming logistical control in directing the attack against anti-Assad forces in Idlib, Syria.
As it embedded its own influence and power structure among Shi’a groups in Iraq, Iran has done the same with Baathist supporters in Syria. On the wars in Syria and Iraq, Iran is China and Russia’s key operative, mobilizing the IRGC, Hezbollah, and militant Shi’ite proxies on the Arabian subcontinent.
Aided by funds awarded in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran, specifically the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is backing terrorism and militant Islamist operations in Yemen, Syria, and Gaza. Hezbollah is firmly ensconced in Lebanon and has been struck by the Israelis on repeated occasions for amassing troops in the Golan Heights.
Iran seeks to aid China in its Belt-Road Initiative, constructing a railroad connecting Iran with Syrian ports on the Mediterranean. As Russia and Iran assist the Assad regime in reasserting control in Syria, Iran suggests that its private sector companies assist in the rebuilding of Syria. In addition, it plans to assist in revamping Syria’s military.
However, due to government corruption on the part of the Rouhani regime and the IRGC, in addition to U.S. sanctions, Iran’s economy is faltering. The sanctions have hampered advances of Iranian ballistics, the Quds Force, Hizballah, and shell companies financing these entities. Since last year, the Rial has devalued by nearly 70-percent and is currently at an all-time low.
India, the second largest consumer of Iranian oil has decided to drastically reduce consumption of oil from Iran. To further disable groups like Hezbollah and IRGC from funding militant and illegal activity near U.S. allies, some in the Senate have recommended taking Iran off the SWIFT banking network.
U.S. lawmakers are devising legislation to address growing Iranian control in Iraq, including identifying and sanctioning groups linked to the IRGC. Iraq may become an albatross for Iran. Recently, five days of demonstrations in Basra, Iraq have resulted in the Iranian consulate building, and a Russian-managed oil facility being vandalized and set on fire. If Iran presses the Abadi regime too hard, ISIS may reemerge. Sunni radicals in Iraq became militarized after the Maliki regime marginalized the Sunni power structure in Iraq.
Although the U.S. is adamant about sanctioning Iran for violating the JCPOA, and its use of proxies to support terrorism and embolden Western enemies, many in the West are ambivalent on sanctioning Iran. Germany stands in support of the JCPOA, giving Iran a financial support package of approximately $21 million.
Nevertheless, many Iranians are up in arms. Devaluation of the Rial has driven up the cost of food and other basic needs, including diapers, and other sanitary products. Despite many protesters remaining in custody from largescale protests in December and January, Iranians resumed protests in June. Although U.S. sanctions are virtually paralyzing Iranian oil distribution worldwide, the Rouhani regime threatens to increase nuclear proliferation.
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