Tehran was recently accused of imposing the “Hezbollah model” to gain influence over various Middle East states, and destabilizing the region through the process, by Security Advisor Lt. General H.R. McMaster.
In an article by Amir Basiri, Iranian human rights activist and supporter of democratic regime change in Iran, for the Clarion Project he writes, “It is a known fact throughout the region that the Islamic Republic of Iran founded the Lebanese Hezbollah as an offspring to expand its influence in the Middle East and gain a foothold on the shores of the Mediterranean.”
Targeting vulnerable governments across the region through a variety of plots, and meanwhile, backing armed militia groups stationed in those countries, is part of a blueprint, according to Basiri.
After Michel Aoun took control over the country’s presidency last year, it seems that Hezbollah has managed to consolidate its influence in Lebanon.
The United States, despite the nuclear deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program, has the leverage to pressure Iran with comprehensive sanctions. Tehran knows the Trump administration can institute new sanctions whenever it deems necessary. The U.S. administration has already slapped the Iranian regime with two series of sanctions in the past three months, and more may be coming.
Trump’s national security adviser referred to “militias and other illegal armed groups” backed by Iran and the vast variety of Shiite militias in Iraq under the Baghdad-backed umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU). These groups are similar to the situation in Yemen with the Houthis, who are focusing their efforts on ousting the Western-backed government, Basiri says.
According to Basiri, British researchers discovered evidence indicating that Tehran is running a “weapons pipeline” for the Houthis. As well, he says, “Tehran continues to harass the Saudis from their southern border and threaten international shipping lines passing through the strategic Bab el Mandab waterway connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.”
He continues, “Iran has abetted the barbaric tactics of the Bashar Assad regime in Syria, further demonstrating its ill intentions across the region. The PMU and Hezbollah have boosted Tehran’s efforts and role in keeping Assad in power. They have all been accused of having played atrocious roles in unspeakable war crimes, with the Khan Shaykhoun chemical attack by Assad in Idlib Province of northern Syria acting as yet another stark reminder of this reality.”
News reports seen in recent months, display that Iran’s destabilizing role in nations across the Arab and Islamic worlds has been on the rise.
“The Iraqi Parliament legitimized the PMU last November through the adoption of a law aimed at maintaining this entity’s command structure and hierarchy. Iraqi Sunnis, alongside all minorities in the country including Christians, Yazidi and others, are now left extremely concerned, knowing how this measure can actually legalize the brutal retaliation measures conducted by the Shiite militias,” writes Basiri.
Still, Tehran continues to deny its role of fueling Middle East conflicts.
Bahram Ghasemi, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, denied in March that there is, “any intervention in the internal affairs of Arab countries.”
Basiri concludes, “The irony lies in the fact that despite such remarks, Alireza Zakani, known to be a close confidante of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, is also known to have boasted in remarks dating back to November 2014 of Iran controlling four Arab capitals following the Houthis’ capture of the Yemeni capital. The list included Baghdad, Beirut and Damascus.”