Paying Tehran's Bills. Sanctions Relief Will Only Empower Iran

(Weekly Standard) Lee Smith - The White House continues to insist, against all evidence, that Iran's aggression won't increase when it gets a huge cash infusion from sanctions relief and an immediate $30 to $50 billion bonus, when (or if) it signs the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka the nuclear deal. Staffan de Mistura, the UN's Syria envoy, recently estimated that the war to prop up its Syrian ally is costing Iran $35 billion a year. Of all Iran's regional projects, keeping Bashar al-Assad's regime afloat is the costliest. And that's because it's an occupation, says Fouad Hamdan, campaign director of Naame Shaam, an organization that keeps tabs on Iran's war in Syria. What Tehran is most keen to obscure, says Hamdan, is the fact that its war in Syria is an occupation. Syrian rebel fighters acknowledge that the Syrian army still exists in places, but, according to Hamdan, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is calling the shots. "In the chain of command," says Hamdan, "Gen. Qassem Suleimani is on top, and the IRGC-Quds Force commander takes his orders directly from the Supreme Leader. Under him is Hossein Hamedani, who oversees IRGC operations in Syria. Then there's the Iranian ambassador, various IRGC commanders, and Hizbullah commanders. Hizbullah does most of the training and takes on the most dangerous missions. Then there are other militias, like Iraqi and Afghan fighters, at the bottom." Without Iranian assistance, Hizbullah will find itself drowning in a sea of Sunnis-from villagers in the Bekaa Valley to Islamist militants in the Palestinian refugee camps. Add to those numbers the 1.2 to 2 million Syrian refugees, the vast majority Sunni, now in Lebanon thanks to Iran and Hizbullah's occupation of their homeland. Sanctions relief will abet Iran's regional goals. The signing bonus alone will cover the costs of Iran's continued occupation of Syria for at least another year and lead to tens of thousands more dead Syrian civilians.

2015-06-03 00:00:00

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