Despite many challenges and setbacks, the Iranian strategy for dominating Arab countries that it counts as being part of its Shi’ite axis has made major progress in recent years, and Tehran is likely to continue its “shadow war” with Israel for the foreseeable future, a leading Middle East export has told JNS in recent days.
Professor Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University, spoke prior to reports of the Beirut blast disaster began emerging on Aug. 4.
He said that Iran remains determined to surround Israel with rocket and missile bases, noting that some 130,000 projectiles have been deployed in Lebanon. “Iran has many factories and economic influences in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. Iran wanted to achieve this influence, and it succeeded,” said Rabi, adding that this was part of the late Quds Force Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s plans.
He described Lebanon as entering into a failed-state status, adding that Iran’s “goal is to tear out chunks from it. If you enter Iraq or Lebanon, you can’t tell where Iranian interests exist. This is a deluxe occupation that the nonprofessional eye cannot recognize. No one will say that Iran occupied Iraq or Lebanon; they will talk about an Israeli occupation. Yet if you enter Iraq or Lebanon, you can see the depth of control that Iranian-backed militias have on the economy, military and politics. In Iraq, this is how the Iranians circumvent U.S. sanctions.”
While Hezbollah is keen on presenting itself as a Lebanese entity, it’s clear that the organization is, in fact, an Iranian satellite organization that owes its entire life to Iran’s “motivation and desire to be in friction with Israel,” said Rabi.
The Shi’ite axis stretches out from Iran into Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and also includes the Houthis in Yemen. The formation is made up of a series of Shi’ite militias active in those lands, which are variations of Hezbollah. “They are meant to give Iran a foothold in every one of those countries,” explained Rabi.
Yet increasingly, populations in these countries are facing up to the truth of who controls these forces, he argued. “If we take Hezbollah, it tried to sell the Lebanese a story that it works for Lebanon. Today, in Lebanon, people understand that those who led them to this point, which I believe is a point of no return, are none other than Hezbollah.”
‘Israeli deterrence is in place’
Facing insolvency, the country is in dire straits. The economic crisis has not passed over Hezbollah itself, noted Rabi, despite the fact that Hezbollah maintains its own factories in Lebanon and even grows cannabis there to help keep profits coming in.
“Hezbollah, too, is experiencing an unprecedented economic low point. It is clear that Iran cannot give it what it needs like it did in the past. Hence, we must see Hezbollah as having its back against the wall,” he said.
The terrorist organization still has its strength, but it does not know how to exit the situation it finds itself in, said Rabi.
During recent tensions with Israel, Hezbollah could have given the order to fire a missile at a sensitive Israeli target, but it has refrained from doing so “because it understands that would be its end,” said Rabi. “Israeli deterrence is in place, despite what many claim. Where did it go to operate against Israel? To Mount Dov, a controversial place with no civilian areas where it can conduct tactical battles. That didn’t work so someone—possibly a subordinate of Hezbollah—tried to plant explosives from Tel Fares in the Syrian Golan.”
Source » jns