Further destabilisation looms as Iran secures Tehran-Beirut corridor

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo

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]

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.

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]

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 militias "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, Afghan 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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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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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?


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.


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.