Politics

Further destabilization looms as Iran secures Tehran-Beirut corridor

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo

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A view of a desert post on the Syrian side of the Iraqi-Syrian border. Iran's Revolutionary Guards are trying to control key points like this in order to complete an uninterrupted land corridor route between Tehran and Beirut. [Louai Beshara/AFP]

Iran's regional ambitions, as manifested by its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), appear to include the establishment of a land corridor connecting Tehran with the Mediterranean via Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, experts say.

Securing a cross-regional land route would enable the free flow of arms and IRGC-affiliated fighters in the areas Iran seeks to control, and would thereby expand its influence in the region, political affairs experts told Al-Mashareq.

If the plan succeeds, they warned, the region will face further destabilisation as a result of the influx of arms and the strengthening of an IRGC-affiliated network that has the potential to foment greater sectarian unrest.

"This has been a dream the IRGC has sought -- and continues to seek -- to implement," said Al-Sharq Centre for Regional and Strategic Studies researcher Fathi al-Sayed, who specialises in Iranian affairs.

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Qassem Soleimani, commander of the elite Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is pictured here with Afghan fighters from the Fatemiyoun Brigade on the Syrian side of the Iraqi-Syrian border. [Photo circulated on pro-IRGC social media accounts]

The objective of the intended land corridor would be to impose military and political hegemony over Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, he told Al-Mashareq.

This would undoubtedly result in further unrest and conflict across the region, he said, given the resistance of various political entities to the Iranian presence.

The plan must be thwarted, he added, as the negative consequences of an expanded sphere of Iranian control would affect not only the countries of the region, but also most countries of the world.

Iran-backed militias pave the way

Iran has established or supported militias in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon in order to implement its plan to open a route to the Mediterranean, said strategy analyst Maj. General Yahya Mohammed Ali, a retired Egyptian military officer.

These Iran-backed militias have been responsible for perpetrating violence that stokes sectarianism in those countries, he told Al-Mashareq, which in turn tightens the IRGC's grip on them.

With Iran-backed militias controlling areas in each of those countries, he said, effective control is in the hands of the Iranian regime and the IRGC.

"It became possible to travel from Iran to Beirut by land under the protection of those groups," he said, adding that it is now "possible to transport arms and military equipment and provide them to those groups".

This upends the regional balance of power, Ali said, noting that these militas "pose a direct threat to the security of those countries".

"Iran has taken advantage of the spread of terrorism and used the pretext of fighting it to increase the proliferation of IRGC officers and groups affiliated with it," Ali said.

It will only be possible to block the establishment of a land corridor from Tehran to Beirut if the international coalition succeeds in eradicating the threat posed by extremist groups, he said, because this will deny Iran a pretext for being there.

Iran's intention to establish a land corridor are particularly evident in rural Aleppo and in the Qalamoun region near the border with Lebanon, he said.

Fighting along Iraq-Syria axis

The recent focus of the IRGC and its affiliated militias in Syria has been on taking control of areas along the main axis of the Iraq-Syria route, said Free Syrian Army (FSA) officer Saleh al-Ufeisi, who is stationed in rural Aleppo.

"The process is severely complicated by the lengthy border between the two countries and the numerous battlefronts extending from al-Waleed/al-Tanf border crossing to the Syrian Badiya, Daraa and the outskirts of al-Quneitra province," he said.

These areas are vital to fully opening the land route and protecting convoys using it from potential attacks, he told Al-Mashareq.

At this stage, a swift and decisive concerted effort by all the moderate forces in Syria will be needed to thwart the Iranian project, he said.

According to al-Ufeisi, Syrian factions in rural Aleppo and the Badiya (desert) region have begun engaging in direct confrontations with multi-national militias backed by the IRGC, made up of Lebanese, Iraqi, Afghani and Pakistani fighters.

"The route linking Iraq with Syria and Lebanon sought by the IRGC will be a lifeline for it and its arms in the region, as it will be the conduit through which military supplies and weapons will pour in without interruption," he said.

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Article entitled: Greetings! By Mahmoud Marghani Moussa Any independent, sovereign state has the right to defend its soil and the borders of its sovereignty at air or sea. It has the right to repel any aggressions by others or any attempt to tamper with its territorial waters or airspace. Everyone will agree on this. These words aren’t said to take sides with Iran or others; rather, this is just to say the truth and fend off falsehoods. The story, as you know, is the hegemony of superpowers on small, or what they think are weak, states!! These states would just be silent, give in and accept the status quo and succumb to blackmail, especially if they have resources. In this case, peoples would be denied the riches which God has given them, as they would be passed over to usurpers both voluntarily and forcibly. The result would be poverty, hunger, and deprivation of those who have resources and riches, and the victory would be for the oppressive usurper who doesn’t want to see any other master in the universe. Iran has the right to defend. Iran has the right to repel and topple anyone who approaches, even if they cite excuses and pretexts. Egyptians had said the truth at the time of Tripartite Aggression against Egypt in 1956 when they wrote: Leave my skies for they are burning, and leave my waters for they are drowning. Beware the land for it is lightning

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There is no doubt that any writer or anyone taking on journalist or literary writing must have a distinguished approach that distinguishes him/her from other writers and men of letters. When the writer of these words start to write, it occurs to me what I used to read and watch a long time ago, including works of art and journalist writings, and plays and TV series. I often like a certain sentence or a heading, and I would borrow that heading and use it as a title for my subject although the context may be different. This is an approach that attracts readers to discover what meaning the content includes. In the past, we read a lot of world literature, like Agatha Christie, Emile Zola, Antoine Chekov, Tolstoy, Jean Jacque Rousseau, and others. I read The Orient Express, a detective story for English writer Agatha Christie, about a crime that took place during a journey of the train from Europe to Istanbul. This is an interesting detective story that attracts attention. This is the introduction for which we chose the title train, orient, and speed. This is the current status of our Middle East, and Arab East in particular, where events are fast and successive like the speed of trains, and even faster; they’re now comparable to the speed of lightning or a glimpse of an eye. There are events here and there: events in Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Iraq, and Kuwait. Every event is driven and strengthened by something, and only God knows the end of these events. We expect a lot surprises from the orient train which we never expected or dreamed of. Mahmoud Marghani.

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I need to know how to send articles to you, and what the publication requirements are.

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We often see a lot of magazines and newspapers at the newsagent’s without anyone even looking at them. Why? Because these publications lost their credibility or because these newspapers or magazines were printed not to be read, but to be stacked on sidewalks and remain stacked until they return to whence they came without causing any evil to anyone. Why should they incur the cost of ink, paper, printers and salaries for workers, editors and distributors across the country when these newspapers finally find their way back to their origin. Those who these words refer to know themselves. The people want to feel the freedom of the press even if for a period of time in their life. The past generations never tasted the freedom of the press. Freedom doesn’t mean to insult and curse this or that person. If you do, you’ll be the loser and your enemy will be the winner. Freedom means that a newspaper abides by neutrality and avoids embracing a certain opinion against another. If it does, it won’t be a newspaper but a publication similar to that which was quickly distributed in the past so the distributor may not be arrested or punished, or which was posted on walls in the darkness to surprise people in the morning. There is a difference between a newspaper and a publication. The media in general has been marred by a culture of attacks and underestimation. We would find that some host those who underestimate leaders and reformers. They sometimes attack Salah al-Din al-Ayoubi and then Ahmed Orabi. We would find some who overestimate France’s Napoleon Bonaparte the aggressor and his greedy expedition against Egypt and his assaults on sanctities without finding anyone who responds. I suspect that those are Egyptians or even Arabs. Christian historian and journalist Georgi Zidan has done justice to the Arabic, Islamic civilisation in his writings. Will we find anyone who follows in his footsteps? When Gutenberg invented printing in the middle of the 15th century, he didn’t know that his invention would carry good and bad things for humanity; he thought it was purely good which will enlighten minds and refine manners.

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I’ve already written and asked the person who writes to explain the cause of hostility from us towards Iran. Is Iran more dangerous to us than Israel? Israel has killed many Arabs and Muslims in their wars against it to recover land and repel enemies. And now we come and get prejudiced and hostile towards Iran for no clear reasons.

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It feels that we’re on October 6th, 1973 although 44 years have gone by. Many people have struggled, and we don’t deny that some people sustained injuries and some became martyrs, about whom God says they are alive and being provided sustenance from their Lord. Days just passed really quickly. We were at the heart of battle and fire was on every side. The frightened enemy was clapping on their cheeks, tearing up their clothes, and putting dust on their heads out of shock of the disaster which has overtaken them and which nobody knows whence. Their old female chief was crying and calling for help; they were confident that Egypt wouldn’t wage war and wouldn’t be able to liberate its land. Amidst the shock and panic of evil friends who didn’t expect the calamity of what happened to their friends, they rushed to provide all types of supplies, and as a result the battle became an unequal battle. It was no longer a man against man, but a man against a woman who sought the help of her likes to help her with her aggression and tyranny. There is no doubt that the rest of story is known to all the people of Egypt and all free people of the world. This is a story written by history and its plans are taught at international military academies. Legitimate struggle is recognized and accepted by the free world, and rights won’t be lost if there are people who are behind them. Congratulations to Egypt and its good people! God’s mercy be upon the souls of our pure martyrs!

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Iran is an expansionist state with undeclared goals. However, the known and clear goal of that state is to support instability in Arab countries, especially in the Gulf, where its agenda seeks to support terrorists under flimsy pretexts. It’s also trying hard to create militias for itself in the Gulf, as it did in Lebanon by establishing the so-called Hezbollah which supports its agenda in the area at the expense of the Lebanese people.

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O, dear, you, Saudi Arabia, Israel and America are the cause of all wars in the region. Where are you getting paid, o, you who have been paid off?

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Iran is threatening the region’s stability with this land corridor from Tehran to Beirut. Iran is free to do whatever it wants, exactly like the Gulf countries which have waged attacks and wars. They’re still preparing for wars with other countries, and they’re preventing its pilgrims and shutting off roads so they may spark wars against it. Meanwhile, there are Zionist countries that are supplying them with weapons and equipment.

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The United States and Israel have always sought to portray Iran as an evil superpower so that they can politically and financially take advantage of the Arab countries. For, had it not been for Iran, could have ever been such huge volume of money transferred between Saudi Arabia and the United States in arms deal? Or, perhaps [the reason is that] with a new enemy, Israel will be forgotten. This difference between Muslim countries only leads to disadvantage and weakness of the Islamic world. As an Iranian, I hate the Iranian regime. However, it's a mistake to see Iran as the cause of all problems of the region. Instead of constantly asking your father, the United States, to wage war against Iran, let us put aside our religious and ethnic prejudices and let us see Iran as a regional actor.

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