The deployment of elements of Iran’s conventional military, the Artesh, to fight in Syria over the past month was surprising. The Artesh has historically focused on the territorial defense of Iran, and there have been no confirmed expeditionary Artesh deployments to a combat zone since the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988. The decision to deploy Artesh troops was likely driven in part by the casualties taken by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) conventional forces
The Iranian government’s process for approving the nuclear deal reveals a great deal about its interpretation of the agreement; it also provided insight into the future of Iranian domestic politics. The fight over approving the deal was a pivotal moment in President Hassan Rouhani’s battle to retain and strengthen his position against his political adversaries. It is far from clear whether he has gained or lost from it, and the game is still in play.
The Treasury Department yesterday identified six al Qaeda members as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. These six terrorist operatives form a network that funnels money and personnel from the Gulf to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan via Iran. The head of the network, Syrian-born Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, operates from inside Iran with the full knowledge of the Iranian regime.
In recent months, the Iranian regime has reinvigorated its use of hard and soft power tactics in Iraq as a means to undermine the American presence in Iraq and exert greater influence over the Iraqi government’s policies. Through its actions Iran is demonstrating that it is willing and capable of both exploiting the Iraqi state and killing Americans.
This article appears in the Winter 2011 issue of Middle East Quarterly.
Seventeen months after the fraudulent June 12, 2009 presidential election, which threw the Islamic Republic into its worst political crisis since the 1979 revolution, and five months into the latest round of international sanctions against Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i is desperate to demonstrate that he is the legitimate supreme authority in Iran.