MIDDLE EAST

From the Golan, Iran is paving the way for a new war in Lebanon

‘Harkat al Nujaba’ or the ‘Movement of the Nobles’ is not temerarious enough to contend the Arabic language printed by the Iranians on placards carried by masked members to declare the formation of the Golan Liberation Brigade. The Golan name is misspelled missing the introducatory ‘al’ that precedes Golan as it should be written in the Arabic language. Nonetheless - exactly like ‘nobles; – they “toed the line” and raised the banner. They also released propaganda videos showing members of the movement carrying banners that read: “Israel will be destroyed”.

The militia’s official spokesperson, Hashim al Mussawi, said in a press conference on March 8 in Tehran that the new unit could assist the Syrian regime in taking the Golan Heights, a region occupied by Israel since 1967, a verdict he left entirely to Damascus to take, saying: “Should the Syrian government make the request, we are ready to participate in the liberation of occupied Golan with our allies. Unquestionably, the unit in concert with the regime, is likely to participate in a future offensive to capture territory from Syrian opposition on the part of the Golan still controlled by Syria prior any “full liberation” of the Golan.

The formation of the Golan Liberation Brigade conspicuously demonstrates Tehran’s priorities in south Syria, for agitprop purposes, locally and internationally limited to the so-called ‘Resistance countries’ that extend to Venezuela and Cuba.

Iran believes it is obliged to confront and to emphasize its commitment to fight Israel, mainly with the arrival of a new administration in Washington where observers feel certain that curbing Iran is a paramount issue for politicians and military officials alike. 

Pivotal role in Aleppo 

‘Harkat al Nujaba’ played a pivotal role in assisting the Quds forces – the elite arm of Iran’s IRCG – and pro-Syrian regime forces to conquer Aleppo last year.

The Iraqi militia functions as an extension of the Islamic Republic, having sworn full allegiance to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayotollah Ali Khamenei. The militia promotes ‘velayat-e-faqih’ and takes direct orders from Major General Qassem Soleimani, the chief of the IRGC’s extraterritorial branch – the Quds Force.


Last year, the Iraqi militia, which is also known as ‘Harakt Hezbollah al Nujaba’ proclaimed that it and Lebanese Hezbollah were the “twins of resistance.”

The militia leader, Akram al Kabi, is close to the top Iranian leadership, including the Supreme Leader and the co-founder of the ‘Asaib al Haq’ itself an offshoot of the Mahdi Army. In 2015, he bluntly stated that he would oust the Iraqi government if Khamenei seeks to do so. Last year, top Iranian officials close to Khamenei gave Kabi a highly publicized reception unprecedented in scope and scale for one of their Arab zealots. ‘Harakat al Nujaba’ publicized Kabi’s meeting with Khamenei on the sidelines of a conference held in Tehran last December.

Albeit the fact that ‘Harakat al Nujba’ derive its moral potency from the Iranian patronage, a wide chasm remains between its capabilities and ambitions to recapture the Golan. Since 1967, the Syrian regime fecklessly “vowed” to respond to Israel in due time, in addition to Iran’s IRGC who is affiliated with militants groups founded by the Islamic Republic in countries under its clout. These combined forces are no match for the Israeli army.

Huda al Husseini



Iran’s goal of establishing a foothold in the Golan Heights is not a secret any more. The Islamic Republic justified intervening in Syria to defend the Shiite shrines. However, the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces said in remarks published last November that Iran may seek to set up naval bases in Yemen and Syria.

Moreover, on several occasions, Israeli officials openly referred to Iran’s increased leverage on Syria during the six years’ old civil war, either through the IRCG or Shiite militants, chiefly Hezbollah. Previously, Avi Dichter, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee stated that Iran had tried several times last year to move troops into the Syrian Golan Heights: "All movements are tracked.”

Nonetheless, media reports revealed that Israel had repelled several Iran-directed attempts to move forces to the Golan. Senior Iranian military commanders are known to operate in the Syrian Golan, and usually local press cast lights on such visits after its conclusion. 

Killed in Israeli strike 

General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the commander of the Basij - a paramilitary force operate under the IRGC – toured al Quneitra sometime last year. However, Iranian media outlets published photos of the visit in July. The most renowned incident happened in January 2015, when an Israeli helicopter strike several targets in the area, including IRGC Brigadier General Mohamed Ali Allah Dadid accompanied by Hezbollah field commander, Mohamed Eissa, and Jihad Mughniyah, the son of Imad Mughniyah. The three were killed in the attack.

Albeit the fact that ‘Harakat al Nujba’ derive its moral potency from the Iranian patronage, a wide chasm remains between its capabilities and ambitions to recapture the Golan. Since 1967, the Syrian regime fecklessly “vowed” to respond to Israel in due time, in addition to Iran’s IRGC who is affiliated with militants groups founded by the Islamic Republic in countries under its clout. These combined forces are no match for the Israeli army.

Iran is embracing a punctilious stance towards Israel, concealing behind its ideology of “Do not assault but infiltrate”. Despite, Iran and Hezbollah’s accusations of Israel bolstering the Syrian opposition embattling the regime, Israel not only successfully distanced itself from the Syrian war cataclysm effect, but was occupied in striking military and technology deals with China and India, and in ensuring that its frontiers are rather quiet from occasional skirmishes.

Yet there is an understanding within Israeli security institutions that the status quo is unsustainable and that Israel must re-evaluate its strategy. These Iranian threats, by ‘Harak al Nujba’ and Hezbollah rather serve Israel in boosting its international relations, especially with the United States.

This article was first published on Al Arabiya.Net
 

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Last Update: Saturday, 25 March 2017 KSA 13:40 - GMT 10:40
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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