ISJ & EIFA Report: "Destructive Role of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the Middle East"
The International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ), has Monday (March 6, 2017) published its new report jointly prepared with European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) titled “Destructive role of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in the Middle East,” In the "executive summary," it reads as follows:
An extensive study on conduct of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) over the past three decades has established that the IRGC has been meddling in the affairs of all 14 Muslim countries in the region. These activities demonstrate different forms and degrees of intervention.
The joint study by the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) and International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ), two Brussels-based NGOs, established that meddling in the affairs of other regional countries is institutionalized and the IRGC top brass has been directly involved.
The uniquely broad overview of the extent of the IRGC's meddling in the region has showed that these activities have been stepped up since 2013 and have found a new impetus following the nuclear agreement between Iran and P5+1.
The study established that the IRGC is directly involved in the hidden occupation of four particular countries: Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. In all four, the IRGC has a direct, considerable military presence. In the summer of 2016, there were close to 70,000 Iranian regime proxy forces present in Syria.
The IRGC is directly meddling in the internal affairs of at least 8 countries, or it is plotting against their governments. These countries include Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, Bahrain, Egypt, and Jordan.
The study established that on the basis of available information, the IRGC has set up terrorist affiliates or networks in at least 12 regional countries.
One of the most striking findings of the report was the fact that terrorist activities related to the IRGC have been carried out in 13 out of the 14 countries, with the sole exception being Oman, a nation that has helped the Iranian regime to evade sanctions.
The IRGC has also conducted spying and intelligence activities in 12 countries. Most of these countries have arrested or prosecuted the regime's spies. The IRGC has sent weapons and explosives on a wide scale to all 14 counties.
In a press conference in Washington, DC on February 14, the National Council of Resistance of Iran exposed the headquarters and 14 IRGC centres where the IRGC trains its foreign mercenaries. The information was obtained by the sources of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) inside the Iranian regime, including within the IRGC. According to those sources, the camps have been divided based on the nationality of the trainees and the type of training. Both terrorist training and military training for militias are provided, enabling them to better infiltrate and advance the regime’s regional objectives.
Every month, hundreds of forces from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Lebanon -- countries where the regime is involved in frontline combat -- receive military training and are subsequently dispatched to wage terrorism and war. Smaller groups are also trained in other countries in order to conduct terrorist acts. In January 2007, the MEK exposed the details of some 32,000 Iraqi agents of the Iranian regime who were operating within Iraq.
The study established that the IRGC’s meddling is not limited to the military sphere and it has a defining role in Tehran’s foreign policy.
In the ruling theocracy’s power structure, foreign policy is shaped by the Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As such, the development and implementation of policies toward some countries have officially been relegated to the IRGC. In this regard, the IRGC has effectively taken control of the regime's foreign policy through many of its embassies. The embassies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Yemen, Bahrain and Azerbaijan can be counted in this category.
In addition to the aforementioned countries, the IRGC has dominance in foreign policy when it comes to Armenia, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Oman.
In countries like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, the regime's ambassadors hail from the ranks of the IRGC or are chosen from individuals who are close to the IRGC. This is done in order to enable the IRGC to carry out its activities and to advance its agenda by exploiting opportunities awarded by the diplomatic immunity of the embassy and the ambassador.
For example, IRGC Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi, the head of the Iraq affairs desk at IRGC, was appointed as the Iranian regime ambassador to Iraq in January 2017. He is a senior advisor to the Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who was in charge of Iraqi paramilitary groups affiliated to the Iranian regime, and who oversaw the operations against Coalition Forces in Iraq, resulting in death of hundreds of them.
The report established that while the IRGC is the most significant economic powerhouse in Iran and has dedicated its financial and economic prowess to meddling in other countries, the extensive scope of the meddling has been a very heavy burden on the Iranian economy.
Over the past five years, Tehran has spent over $100B for IRGC operations in Syria alone, a large portion of which was provided through the Khamenei office's secret budget allocations. The money is spent on procuring weapons and paying for the Syrian army's expenses. The regime pays about $1B a year for salaries of forces tied to the IRGC, including armed forces, militias and Shiites protected by the regime. IRGC Brigadier General Rostam Ghasemi directs the logistics command centre for the war in Syria and is the representative of Khatam-Al-Anbia conglomerate, which is owned by the IRGC. Previously, he was the commander of Khatam al-Anbia as well as the oil minister under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The IRGC has an intelligence unit that functions in parallel to the Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS). More importantly, the IRGC has expanded its own intelligence activities throughout the region and it has set up various intelligence posts in a number of countries in recent months.
According to the study, IRGC surrogates are in no way limited to Shiite groups, even though Tehran has thus focused its attention on Shiites in various countries of the region, aggravating sectarian tensions while recruiting forces to set up groups and militias tied to the IRGC.
The common theme among militias formed by the IRGC is that they consider themselves to obey and to follow the command of Khamenei.
At the same time, the regime's violence and crimes in other countries in the region under the banner of Shiite Islam and the suppression of Sunnis has provoked a backlash, spawning the rise of groups like ISIS (Daesh) that seek to establish an “Islamic Caliphate” while spreading their wrath and brutality to the four corners of the globe.