Iran's Strategic Depth Expands from Yemen and Africa to the Mediterranean Coast

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall - Ayatollah Ebrahim Raeesi, head of Iran's judiciary, said in June 2019, "Today the Iranian border is what the Islamic Republic defines as its "strategic depth" - Yemen and Africa are (our) strategic borders." Mohammed Reza Nakdi, vice-commander of the Revolutionary Guard for coordinating forces, stated that the Revolutionary Guard "reaches as far as the shores of the Mediterranean Sea." Hossein Salami, present commander of the Revolutionary Guard, stated in January 2018 that Iran has managed to wage war on its enemies far from its geographic borders, and countries like Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as contested areas in Yemen, have become Iran's first line of defense. This was the "skill of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard," which managed to "tie up its enemies on many, varied fronts....And as the Revolution expands, its level of friction with its foes proportionally grows." In accordance with this perception, Iran is continuing to arm the Palestinian terror organizations in Gaza and Hizbullah to wear Israel down through incessant conflict. According to the Iranian strategy, this will weaken Israel's ability to respond militarily. The current harsh sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Iran and its leadership and the ongoing erosion of its oil profits have not significantly affected Iran's continuing assistance to its cohorts in the Middle East. It appears that Iran has even increased its aid, primarily through expanding the operations of the Houthis against Saudi Arabia and the UAE and providing assistance to the Palestinian organizations and Hizbullah. Recent statements on "strategic depth" and military operations (attacks on tankers, missiles fired at Saudi Arabia, targeted attacks in Iraq, continued support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad) are evidence of Iran's perception of national security - as a regional power acting to protect its borders. The writer, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center.

2019-07-10 00:00:00

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