Tuesday, 14 March 2017
Tuesday, 14 March 2017
An Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite militia announced the creation of a “Golan Liberation Brigade” this week, Amir Toumaj reported in the Long War Journal.
Called Harakat al-Nujaba (Movement of the Noble), the militia is an offshoot of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and Kata’ib Hezbollah, which have received financing, weapons, and training from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the force tasked with preserving the Iranian revolution at home and exporting it abroad. Harakat al-Nujaba fought alongside Hezbollah and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to defeat the Syrian opposition in Aleppo.
“Should the Syrian government make the request, we are ready to participate in the liberation of occupied Golan with our allies,” the group’s spokesman announced. “We will not permit the soil of Arab countries to remain in the grasps of occupiers.” A video released by the group showed fighters carrying a banner that read “Israel will be destroyed.”
Toumaj explained that the militia has sworn allegiance to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and takes direct orders from General Qassem Suleimani, the head of the IRGC’s Quds Force, its external arm. The militia’s commander, Akram al-Kabi, is close to Iran’s top leaders and was designated a terrorist by the United States in 2008.
Ronen Solomon, an intelligence analyst, told Ynet that al-Kabi “holds meetings with security officials working from the Iranian government, and even visits in Lebanon with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.” Solomon also said that Harakat al-Nujaba has an elite unit training in Iran and that “the fighting in Iraq and Syria has made them proficient in guerrilla warfare and urban warfare.”
Toumaj wrote, “While the Islamic Republic is incapable of credibly challenging the Jewish state’s fortress in the Golan, reaffirming ideological commitment to fighting Israel signals defiance to a global audience amid a reportedly converging American-Arab-Israeli military alliance against Tehran.”
Chagai Tzuriel, the director-general of Israel’s Intelligence Ministry, said earlier this month, “The most important strategic issue we’re currently facing is the strengthening of the Shiite axis led by Iran in Syria, especially after the fall of Aleppo.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told Russian President Vladimir Putin last year that any future agreement on Syria must not strengthen Iran and Hezbollah, and that Israel considers Iranian and Hezbollah outposts on the Israeli-Syrian border to be a red line. Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he expressed Israel’s “strong opposition to Iran’s entrenchment Syria” during a meeting with Putin, and that the Russian president had “internalized” his warning.