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Iran Denies Aggressive Role in Middle East, Continues to Mobilize

Meanwhile, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran, declared that the negotiations were a victory for Iran and that the US would lose political credibility in the aftermath. Arutz Sheva noted on Monday that these comments come amidst a rising tide of belligerence directed against the West by the highest ranking Iranian officials since the signing of the deal.

Also on Monday, an editorial by McClatchy reporter Roy Gutman pointed to another angle of this Iranian belligerence and the regime’s policies of opposition to Western interests. Gutman pulls together a number of instances of Iranian propaganda regarding the Syrian Civil War and the rise of the Islamic State both there and in Iraq.

In keeping with an established pattern of promoting conspiracy theories through Iran’s numerous official and semi-official news outlets, the regime has made a number of statements claiming that ISIL was deliberately created by the West as a counterbalance to Iranian power in the region, and that the rebellion against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad was instigated by foreign entities.

Gutman explains that the Iranian narrative plainly disregards the fact that ISIL’s rise to power began in both Syria and Iraq under the rule of Iran-backed leaders. Assad in Syria and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq both contributed to the growth of sectarianism both in support and in opposition of the expanding role of Tehran’s Shiite theocracy in nearby countries.

Interestingly, while there is nothing to suggest that the Syrian rebellion was not home-grown, there is clear evidence of a subsequent flood of foreign fighters on the side of Assad. Tehran’s public statements have also tried to downplay this, and Gutman notes that the regime claims the involvement of the Hezbollah paramilitary is simply a matter of pro-active defense of Lebanon.

Claims about such innocent motives are frequently falsified, however. For instance, JNS reported on Monday that several hundred Hezbollah fighters have exploited the situation in Syria in order to take up positions in the Golan Heights, just across the border from Israel. Because of this, a senior official in the Israeli Defense Force claimed that every attack against Israel originating in the Golan Heights was “carried out with Iranian direction.”

The Jerusalem Post goes even further, saying that Iran’s influence and operations in the area are not limited to proxies like Hezbollah. Rather, the Quds Force, the foreign arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, is quickly developing a “forward command” near the Israeli border. Furthermore, Gutman points out that some Iranian officials have declared their readiness to deploy as many as 100,000 basij volunteers or Revolutionary Guards to Syria, especially if it means countering the perceived role of other foreign entities including Turkey, the Gulf States, and the US.


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