Iran is reshaping its military command structure to enhance its ability to deploy and use conventional military power throughout the Middle East. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently reorganized the military’s chain of command with a series of appointments and structural changes that will better enable it to plan and conduct military operations using all branches of Iran’s conventional military forces.
Key takeaway: The Islamic Republic remains a revolutionary state dedicated to its founding principles of exporting its ideology to neighboring countries.
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.