Defying the West, Iran Openly Supports Terror Proxies
Several high profile Iranian officials recently boasted of the Islamic Republic’s steadfast support for terrorist organizations committed to opposing Western interests and destroying Israel, according to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
Mansour Haghighatpour, vice chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission and an adviser to the Majlis speaker, bragged that Iran would continue supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) despite ongoing negotiations taking place with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that seeks to curb Iranian hardline behavior. Haghighatpour referred to Hezbollah and Hamas as “freedom fighter” groups, citing Islam and Islamic revolutionary ideology as primary motivations for Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism.
Hardline Iranian factions and leaders accuse the Iranian government of preparing to offer significant concessions in return for the country’s removal from the FATF blacklist. Mohsen Kouhkan, an Iranian parliamentarian, referred to the Iran-FATF negotiations as a “Zionist-American plot.” In July 2015, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi insisted that ceasing support for Hezbollah in return for an agreement was out of the question.
Since the July 2015 nuclear deal was signed, Iran has expanded its presence in regional conflicts, leading to mounting IRGC casualties. In the last two weeks, six additional IRGC fighters have been killed in Syria, including a high-ranking officer. A leader of an Iraqi Shi’ite militia praised IRGC commander Qasem Soleimani’s support and confirmed that Shiite militias would continue their regional operations after Mosul is cleared of Islamic State fighters.
Moreover, on September 1, an Iranian diplomatic delegation met with Ali Barakeh — a Hamas representative living in Beirut — to discuss Iran’s ongoing support for Hamas’ violent fight against Israel. Despite notable disagreements since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, predominately Shiite Iran continues to court the Sunni Palestinian terrorist organization. The relationship suggests that defeating the Jewish State remains a common objective that supersedes sectarian divisions.
Proponents of the Iran nuclear deal, including many within the Obama administration, argued that the agreement would moderate Iran’s behavior. Earlier this year, senior adviser Ben Rhodes even admitted that the Obama Administration misled the US public on the nuclear deal by falsely alluding to the emergence of a more moderate Islamic Republic. On the contrary, Iran immediately enhanced its support for terrorist organizations, while extremist factions within Iran gained more ground. Though some may debate Tehran’s long-run trajectory, post-nuclear-deal Iran has proven to be even more emboldened to pursue its regional hegemonic ambitions, while more pragmatic Iranian leaders are increasingly silenced.
Steven Emerson is the Executive Director the Investigative Project on Terrorism (www.investigativeproject.org) where this article first appeared.