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IRAN & Proxies’ Report

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IRAN & Proxies’ Report

Rania Kisar

IRAN & Proxies’ Report

Analysis

Iranian officials appear to be parroting a unified confrontational rhetoric of defiance, threats, and criticism while showcasing alleged military advancements to imply their preparedness for any regional escalations. Iran, however, is not just trying to make vocal noises, rather it is preparing and strategizing on its next moves in the region and towards Israel. 

After Egypt excluded Iran from the Cairo Summit, Iranian media questioned the summit’s effectiveness without the presence of the Mullah regime and its regional proxies, Assad and Lebanon’s Hizbollah representatives. 

Internally, the Iranian regime continues its repression, hitting against the wall all the international condemnation it received over the death of Mahsa Amini. The two female journalists who first reported on the incident of Mahsa Amini were sentenced to 25 years in jail over alleged U.S. collaboration. Concurrently, Iranian opposition media reported that Armita Geravand, the 16-year-old girl who was brutally beaten in one of Tehran’s metros by the Hijab police, is now said to be ‘brain dead,’ demonstrating the Iranian regime’s relentless and defiant stance in all issues. 

It is very important to know that Iran is not standing by the sidelines, rather strategizing which of its proxy fronts it will deploy next against Israel and the United States. As you will read in today’s edition of the Region’s analysis and news intercepts, not only will you identify Iran’s regional proxies but you will also gain perspective into Iran’s next possible extortion operations. 

Intercepts:

  1. Iranian Security Minister Warns of ‘Devastating Revenge,’ Says Israel’s Power Will Collapse. Minister Hojjat al-Islam Khatib issued a stern warning against Israel, stating that its actions in Gaza will lead to “devastating revenge” and a “serious strategic change” in the region. He dismissed the effectiveness of modern military technology against “those who practiced injustice,” and predicted the collapse of Israel’s power, both internally and abroad (Fars News).
  2. Iranian Spokesman Says Israel Has ‘Crossed the Point of Madness,’ Calls for Terrorist Classification. Nasser Kanaani, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, stated that Israel has “crossed the point of madness” and should be classified as a “terrorist identity.” He accused Israel of committing a range of crimes in Gaza, including attacks on hospitals and religious sites, and called for the prosecution of “Zionist war criminals.” (Fars News). 
  3. Iranian Foreign Minister Accuses Israel of Waging Proxy War for U.S. in Gaza.  Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian accused Israel of acting as a U.S. proxy in its attacks on Gaza, targeting civilians under the guise of combating Hamas. He criticized President Biden for supporting Israel and warned that the region is a “powder keg,” cautioning that any miscalculation could lead to “heavy and bitter consequences.” (Tasnim Agency). 
  4. Iranian Deputy Defense Minister said Hamas Demonstrated the Impotence of Israel.  Iranian Deputy Defense Minister Mahdi Farahi praised Hamas for challenging Israel’s military capabilities through “innovation and creativity.” Speaking at Malek Ashtar Industrial University, Farahi emphasized that Hamas’ homemade missiles have exposed the limitations of Israel’s advanced military systems (Islam Times). 
  5. Iran Equips ‘Karrar’ Drone with Adapted Surface-to-Air Missile, Says Top Commander.  Brigadier General Alireza Sabahifard announced that Iran’s Air Defense Force has equipped its Karrar drone with a modified “Majid” surface-to-air missile. The missile, now air-based, has a range of 8 kilometers and can target various aerial objects. The Karrar drone has previously set a service ceiling record of 47,000 feet and is designed for advanced interception capabilities (Tasnim Agency) .
  6. Iran Expresses Outrage Over Exclusion from Cairo Peace Summit. Iran criticizes its absence from the Cairo Summit for Peace, questioning the event’s effectiveness without key regional players. The summit, aimed at deescalating Israel-Palestinian conflicts, included various global powers but excluded Iran, Israel, and Hamas, raising doubts about its potential impact (Tehran Times).
  7. Journalists Sentenced to 25 Years for Reporting on Mahsa Amini’s Tragic Story. Iranian journalists Elaha Mohammedi and Nilofar Hamidi have received 25-year prison sentences for their role in reporting on the tragic case of Mahsa Amini. The Tehran Revolutionary Court cited charges such as collaborating with the US government and spreading propaganda. Their arrest followed nationwide protests over Amini’s death in custody, triggering calls for reforms in Iran (Bas News).
  8. Iranian Teenager Armita Geravand Declared ‘Brain Dead’ After Alleged Hijab Law Incident. A 16-year-old Iranian girl, Armita Geravand, has been declared “brain dead” after reportedly falling into a coma following an encounter with authorities over alleged violations of Iran’s hijab law. Rights groups initially publicized her hospitalization, raising concerns about her fate similar to Mahsa Amini’s case, which triggered nationwide protests. Iran denies harm during the incident enforcing the Islamic dress code (The Guardian).

IRAN & Proxies’ Report

Proxy I: 

SYRIA

Analysis: Iran’s strategic foothold in Syria, grew stronger after the 2018 Kerry-Lavrov agreements and was further solidified by the U.S.’s withdrawal of support for Syrian opposition fighters in Syria’s southern borders. This policy misstep by the Obama administration allowed Iran to capitalize on the U.S.’s absence, paving the way for Hamas to reconcile with Assad. Despite Israeli airstrikes on Syrian airports aimed at severing Iran’s supply lines to Hamas and Hezbollah, their efficacy remains questionable. Iranian militias continue to transfer weapons into Syria, and the Assad regime has been non-confrontational, possibly under Iranian influence. Delaying assessments of the Iran-Syria battlefront could be a grave mistake for both Israel and the U.S. Iran is aware that Israel would decisively counter any threats, and values Lebanon’s Hezbollah more than Assad. As attention diverts, the Iran-Syria battlefront risks unpredictable escalation.

Intercepts:

  1. Iran’s Syrian Battlefront: The Golan Heights. Iran has a significant military and political presence in Syria, especially along the Syria-Golan Heights border. Through its militias, Iran has established numerous military sites in southern Syria. The Syrian regime, in consultation with Iran, has been non-confrontational towards Israel despite bombings in Damascus and Aleppo airports. Assad’s responses have been limited to official messages of solidarity, suggesting a level of restraint possibly influenced by Iran. Iran could activate the Golan front against Israel, particularly if the situation in Gaza deteriorates, but is cautious not to risk its long-term strategic gains in Syria (Enab Baladi).
  2. Israeli Strikes on Syrian Airports Continue, Damaging Damascus and Aleppo Facilities. The Israeli airstrikes on Aleppo and Damascus airports are reportedly the most comprehensive since the beginning of the war in Syria. Israeli media suggests that these attacks are driven by concerns about the arrival of forces and weapons from Iran and Iraq into Syria and Lebanon. The Israeli government has stated that it aims to prevent the transfer of strategic weapons from Iran to Syria, particularly in an effort to open a northern front. However, the effectiveness of these strikes in achieving their declared goal has been questioned by analysts, as Iranian militias continue to transfer weapons and elements despite the repeated attacks. (SHAAM News).
  3. Syrian Foreign Affairs Ministry Denounces Ongoing Attacks on Airports, Calls Israel ‘Defeatist. Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns Israel’s repeated attacks on Damascus and Aleppo airports, viewing them as signs of Israel’s desperation and defeatism. The recent airstrikes led to the death of a civilian worker, injuries, and damage to airport runways. Syria maintains its commitment to supporting the Palestinian cause and recovering the occupied Syrian Golan, despite Israel’s aggression and Western sanctions. The ministry warns of the escalating violence’s regional consequences, emphasizing the violations of international law and humanitarian norms in these attacks (Zaman Al Wasl).
  4. Iranian Companies, with Regime Support, Seize Farmers’ Lands in Tartous, Syria. Iranian companies, reportedly supported by the Syrian regime, have initiated the seizure of lands belonging to farmers in Tartous, Syria. According to Syrian journalist Kenan Waqaf, a significant security force attempted to pressure landowners near Maqbara Zahid in Tartous’ countryside to hand over their lands to an Iranian investment company. However, the farmers’ collective resistance and threat of escalation prevented this seizure. The situation highlights ongoing concerns about land rights and investments in the region, with Iranian companies making claims related to agricultural usage of the lands (Syria TV).
  5. Iranian Investment in Syrian Insurance Sector Grows to 60% Share. Syria and Iran are accelerating efforts to establish two insurance and reinsurance companies in Syria, with Iran holding a 60% share in both. The move comes as part of Iran’s increasing influence in various Syrian sectors. Many foreign reinsurers have pulled out of Syria due to economic sanctions, leading to strategic collaborations with Iran in an attempt to bolster the Syrian insurance industry. This development reflects Iran’s broader economic engagement in Syria over the past decade (Syria TV). 
  6. Syrian Regime Restricts Demonstrations Near Golan in Solidarity with Gaza. The Syrian regime has prevented Palestinian factions on Syrian territory from organizing demonstrations near the Golan Heights in solidarity with Gaza. The regime issued strict instructions to avoid such actions, citing security and political assessments that indicated potential anger from Israel and the United States. The regime aims to avoid direct confrontation with Israel, especially after Israel threatened military intervention if movements occurred near the Golan border. While Palestinians demonstrated in solidarity with Gaza in various parts of Syria, they refrained from approaching the Golan for fear of regime security forces’ response (Syria TV).
  7. Suwayda Demonstrators Mock Bashar’s Response to Israeli Airport Bombings. Demonstrators in Suwayda, Syria, mocked Bashar al-Assad’s response to Israeli airstrikes on Damascus and Aleppo airports. Protests in Karama Square demanded political change, regime overthrow, and Assad’s departure. Banners ridiculed Assad for reserving the right to respond while highlighting his military actions against Syrians. Solidarity with Gaza was expressed, condemning Israeli bombings. In Salkhad, protesters reinstated a picture of Sultan al-Atrash, denouncing Assad’s regime and declaring, “Long live Syria, down with Bashar al-Assad.” The engagement of a young couple was also celebrated during the demonstration (Orient).
  8. European Court of Justice Issues Absentee Rulings Against Assad’s Authority to Collect 30 Million Euros.  The European Court of Justice has approved two absentee rulings against Assad’s authority in response to lawsuits filed by the European Investment Bank. The rulings require Assad’s regime to pay 28.7 million euros for unpaid loans related to a project to strengthen the electricity distribution network in Syria. Another case involves a demand for 652 thousand euros for unpaid installments related to a water supply project in Suwayda Governorate. These rulings were issued after Assad’s authority failed to defend the cases in court (Aleppo Today).
  9. Turkish Airstrikes Cause Over $1 Billion in Damages to Syrian Infrastructure. Turkish air attacks on northeastern Syria have resulted in more than $1 billion in direct damages to the region’s infrastructure. The attacks, which targeted vital energy, fuel, and gas stations, have left a significant impact on the region’s stability. The Autonomous Administration in northern Syria has called for international intervention to rehabilitate the destroyed facilities and ensure the continuation of essential services (Sharq Awsat).
  10. Iran’s Syria Proxy Intensifies Attacks on US Bases in Deir ez-Zor. Arab tribal fighters, backed by Iran’s proxy militias, have increased their attacks on American bases in Deir ez-Zor, Syria. The Al-Omar oil field and Conoco gas field have been targeted repeatedly, causing fear among US occupation soldiers. The attacks coincide with tribal forces targeting SDF militants, leading to casualties. Despite US reinforcements, missile attacks persist, creating panic among American forces. This escalation underscores Iran’s influence in the region and the ongoing instability in Deir ez-Zor (Al Watan).
  11. Syrian Army Bombardment Claims Lives of Six Children in Northwest Syria. In a heartbreaking incident, six innocent children lost their lives in northwest Syria as their home was struck by a bombardment conducted by regime ground forces. The attack occurred in the village of Al-Qarqour in the Al-Ghab Plain, northwest of Hama (Sharq Awsat).
  12. Boat Carrying Refugees Capsizes Off Syria’s Coast, Dozens Dead. A tragic incident unfolded off Syria’s coast as a boat carrying refugees and migrants from Lebanon capsized, resulting in dozens of casualties. Lebanon’s transport minister reported 71 deaths in the disaster. The Syrian government initially stated that 20 survivors were receiving treatment in a hospital in Tartous. The boat, reportedly carrying between 120 and 150 people, left Lebanon’s Minyeh region and encountered difficulties due to rough seas and strong winds. This incident is among the deadliest as many Lebanese, Syrians, and Palestinians attempt perilous journeys by sea to escape the crises in Lebanon, marked by economic turmoil and lack of opportunities (Al Jazeera).
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IRAN & Proxies’ Report

Proxy II:

IRAQ

Analysis: The recent increase in attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, notably the drone strikes on Ain al-Asad airbase, highlights Iran’s strategy of using proxy groups to exert influence and escalate tensions. While avoiding direct military confrontation, Iran remains relentless in its aggression, as seen in the frequency of these attacks and the U.S. decision to evacuate non-essential staff. This indirect approach allows Iran to engage without the diplomatic and military costs of direct involvement. The situation is further complicated by the presence of the Islamic State and internal tensions between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army. Additionally, the rising drug crisis in Kurdistan suggests a broader strategy on Iran’s part, potentially implicating Tehran in drug trafficking operations in Iraq. This serves as another proxy method to destabilize the region and divert attention and resources, thereby weakening U.S. and coalition efforts. In summary, Iran’s multi-faceted use of proxy warfare and covert operations in Iraq presents a persistent and complex threat that requires a comprehensive response.

Intercepts:

  1. Drone Strike Targets Ain al-Asad Airbase in Iraq. Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq, hosting US and international forces, repelled a drone attack by the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq.” No casualties or damage were reported. This incident is one of five attacks on bases used by the US-led coalition in the past week. Tensions in the region have escalated, with “Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance” (JAMI) claiming responsibility for the latest drone strike (Bas News).
  2. U.S. Mandates Staff Evacuation from Iraq Facilities. The United States has mandated the evacuation of non-essential staff from its embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Erbil, citing heightened security threats. Katyusha missiles targeted the Ain al-Asad air base, housing American and international forces, while two drones were intercepted near the base in Anbar Governorate, western Iraq (Khaleej Online).
  3. Iraqi Forces Capture “Notorious” IS Fighter in Kirkuk Operation. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense’s Intelligence and Security Directorate apprehended a “notorious” member of the Islamic State in Kirkuk’s Dibis district. This arrest follows the recent capture of IS members in Nineveh and other provinces as part of expanding anti-terror operations. IS maintains a dispersed presence in Iraq, often hiding in marshlands, caves, and remote areas, particularly in the disputed Kurdish territories, where security challenges persist since 2017 (Bas News).
  4. Kurdistan Region Confronts Drug Crisis in the Midst of Security Concerns. The Kurdistan Region grapples with a surging drug crisis, intensifying security and political tensions with Popular Mobilization Forces. Prime Minister Masrour Barzani warns of a grave threat from drug trafficking, while officials outline how drug mafias exploit the region’s geography. Recent months have seen heightened tensions, hindering relations. Accusations include obstructing the Sinjar Agreement and supporting armed groups, impacting international routes and border security. Security sources hint at a broader strategy behind the drug influx, potentially stoking long-term regional conflicts (Al Nahar). 
  5. Clashes Erupt Between Peshmerga and Iraqi Army Over Abandoned PKK Outposts. Sunday saw clashes between Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army in Makhmur as tensions rose over military outposts previously held by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Qarachugh mountain. Peshmerga requested control of these outposts within their territory, leading to violence when the Iraqi army refused to vacate. Negotiations are ongoing to resolve the situation. The PKK recently left Qarachugh mountain after UN pressure to evacuate the vicinity of a Makhmur camp (Bas News).

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IRAN & Proxies’ Report

Proxy III:

LEBANON

Analysis: The recent disclosures by the Israeli National Security Research Center on Hezbollah’s military strength indicate a growing concern over the group’s capabilities. With an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 fighters and a substantial missile arsenal, Hezbollah poses a significant security challenge not only to Israel but also to the broader stability of the region. The presence of specialized forces like the “Al-Radwan Force” and advanced missile systems adds layers of complexity to the threat. On the ground, the situation remains tense but relatively calm along the southern Lebanese border following Israeli airstrikes. The Lebanese Red Cross and UNIFIL’s involvement in recovering bodies suggests a humanitarian aspect that cannot be ignored. The death toll among Hezbollah and Lebanese Resistance Brigades indicates that military operations are far from over. Israel’s continued reconnaissance and targeting of Hezbollah assets show a proactive approach to neutralize the threat. However, this also risks escalating the conflict further, potentially drawing in other regional actors. The situation necessitates careful monitoring and diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions and address the root causes of the conflict.

Intercepts:

  1.  Israeli Center Reveals Hezbollah’s Military Strength. The Israeli National Security Research Center disclosed details about Hezbollah’s military capabilities. Hezbollah is estimated to have 50,000 to 100,000 fighters, including the “Al-Radwan Force,” numbering 2,500. Their missile arsenal comprises 150,000 to 200,000 missiles, including accurate ones with high destructive potential. Notable missiles include Grad, Fajr 3 and 5, Zelzal, Al-Fateh 110, and Chinese-made C802. Hezbollah also possesses self-produced drones for offensive missions up to 400 kilometers. Israel considers increased vigilance and monitoring necessary given Hezbollah’s capabilities (Al Nahar).
  2. Cautious Calm Prevails on Southern Border, Lebanese Red Cross Retrieves Bodies. Cautious calm prevails on the southern border after Israeli airstrikes near Aitaroun. Israeli reconnaissance planes continue flying, targeting missile launchers and Hezbollah cells. Lebanese Red Cross, army, and UNIFIL recover bodies of civilians. Lebanese Resistance Brigades mourn two members, while Hezbollah mourns another casualty, totaling 27 since the south’s military operations began. Western sector villages remain calm with occasional flares as UNIFIL monitors tense areas (Al Nahar). 

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IRAN & Proxies’ Report

Proxy IV: 

YEMEN

Analysis: The recent developments stemming from the Houthis in Yemen indicate Iran’s deployment of its regional proxies in the Gulf. In addition to Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq as Iranian battlefronts against Israel, the recent Houthi missile aimed at Israel and intercepted by the U.S. Navy was merely an Iranian show of force to exert influence without direct military engagement with the U.S. or Israel. What is clear now is that the Houthi militia is indifferent to whether it is listed or delisted from American designations, and that diplomacy and even sanctions are not effective deterrents against terrorism and aggression. What is also crystal clear is that all the overtures of appeasing Iran have not only proven to be failures but may also have prolonged the empowerment of what transpired on October 7, 2023. Isolationism has proven to be another failure, even for those who may not care about Israel. This is not just Israel at war; it is also a daring test of American will and resolve. How the United States chooses to correct policy mistakes will have a significant impact on Israel’s destiny. 

Intercepts: 

  1. Yemen’s Iran-Backed Proxy Threatens Israeli Ships in Red Sea. Abdul Aziz Saleh bin Habtour, a prominent figure in the Houthi militia stated, “The Americans intercepted missiles and drones en route to the occupied territories, shooting down some of them.” He emphasized, “Sanaa will use all its capabilities to respond to the Gaza massacres,” warning that “continued attacks on Gaza could expose Israeli ships in the Red Sea to potential threats.” Hebrew media commented on Habtoor’s threat, stressing the need for a serious response to the Houthi threat against Israeli ships crossing Bab al-Mandab (Al Nahar).
  2. Qatar and U.S. Cooperate on Gaza Prisoner Release Efforts. Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani confirmed ongoing coordination with the United States and international partners to release prisoners and de-escalate tensions in Gaza. They discussed bilateral relations, the situation in Palestinian territories, and efforts to reduce the conflict’s intensity. The U.S. Secretary of State thanked Qatar for helping secure the release of two American citizens held in Gaza. Qatar’s mediation efforts have been instrumental in facilitating these releases, with potential for more in the near future (Al Jazeera).
 

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