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August 31, 2017 12:58 pm

New Defense Minister Signals Iranian Commitment to Regional Expansionism, Israeli Analyst Says

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Iranian Defense Minister Brig Gen. Amir Hatami. Photo: IRNA.

The appointment of Brig Gen. Amir Hatami as Iran’s defense minister is a key indication of the Tehran regime’s resolve to export its Islamist revolution, a leading Israeli security analyst said on Wednesday.

In a briefing published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank in Israel, Lt. Col. Michael Segall highlighted Hatami’s declared commitment to supporting the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which spearheads Iranian incursions in the wider region, as well as enhancing Iran’s ballistic missile program. A few days before he was formally confirmed in the post on August 21, Hatami told a press conference in Tehran that over the next four years, Iran would “devote a special effort to boost missile and ballistic power, strategic air power as well as strategic maritime power, and increase rapid reaction forces.”

“Hatami, who has held senior positions in the conventional Iranian army (Artesh) and the Defense Ministry, is the first defense minister of the Islamic Republic who does not hail from the IRGC,” Segall wrote. “He touched upon two of the main aspects of building Iran’s deterrent power, namely, the missile program and the export of the revolution (via the Quds Force).”

The commander of the Quds Force, Major General Qasem Soleimani, “is almost personally involved in each combat arena where the force is openly engaged — in Iraq, Syria, and, via subversion, in Yemen and the Gulf states,” Segall pointed out.

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Iran’s overarching goal, Segall noted, was the creation of a land corridor — dubbed the “Shia crescent” — linking Tehran with the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon. This would enable Iran, through its presence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, “to create a platform for the ‘resistance front”’ — a term for the ongoing struggle against Israel and the Sunni states led by Saudi Arabia,” he saod.

Argued Segall: “With this land corridor, Iran can transfer weapons to Hezbollah through Iraq and Syria, and Iran can turn Saudi Arabia’s long border with Iraq into a channel for transferring aid and weapons to subversive Shia elements in the Saudi kingdom using the Quds Force, and even move to destabilize Jordan.”

“The new Iranian defense minister has taken office at a very sensitive time for Iran,” Segall concluded. “From its standpoint, there is now a window of opportunity to exploit the Sunni Arab camp’s weakness and the Russian tailwind to advance its long-term interests in the region and fill the void left by ISIS.”

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