Iran reaches new stage in proxy wars in Iraq, Syria

Amir Toumaj, David Adesnik
28th February 2018 - Quoted by Carlo Muñoz - The Washington Times

Iranian military leaders are elevating their proxy wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen to a new and dangerous stage, funneling more money, weapons and advisers to Shia militias in those nations in an attempt to further cement Tehran’s growing influence in the post-Islamic State Middle East, a former high level American diplomat in the region said Wednesday.

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Mr. Crocker, now a visiting professor and diplomat in residence at Princeton University, made the assertion during a panel discussion hosted on Capitol Hill Wednesday by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a Washington-based think tank known for its aggressive criticism and scrutiny of the Iranian government.

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David Adesnik, the director of research for FDD who also appeared on Wednesday’s panel, added that the fostering proxy forces across the Middle East has long been one of Iran’s major strategies for expanding its influence across the region — and that the proliferation of these paramilitary groups has ramped up dramatically in recent years.

In an analysis published by FDD Wednesday, Mr. Adesnik and Amir Toumaj, another researcher with the think tank, asserted that the majority of the Iranian-backed militias “hail from countries across the Muslim world and have varying motivations and interests, but they have one thing in common, [to] project the Islamic Republic’s power and promote its revolutionary ideology.”

While the bulk of these proxy forces’ successes have come in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria “all the groups have expressed a readiness to wage war against all enemies of the Islamic Republic,” they wrote.

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But the FDD analysis argued that the militias have direct affiliation with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Quds Force — the IRGC’s directorate responsible for advising Shia paramilitary forces throughout the world. Since both of the groups are categorized by Washington as terrorist organizations, the analysis argued that many of Iran’s newer, proxy militias “likely meet criteria for designation as well.”

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