Qasem Soleimani speaking at the Imam Hossein University (Mehr, July 19, 2017).
Ansari (left) meets with the Syrian president (Fars, July 20, 2017).
The Iranian ambassador to Iraq (left) meets with the prime minister of the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government (IRNA, July 17, 2017).
Shamkhani meets with the PUK delegation (ISNA, July 17, 2017).
The Iraqi (left) and Iranian ministers of defense (Asr-e Iran, July 23, 2017).
Hossein Amir Abdollahian meets with Khaled Qaddoumi, Hamas representative in Tehran (Mehr, July 23, 2017).
- Qasem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC's Qods Force, gave a speech at the Imam Hossein University in Tehran where he called the Syrian government the "bridge to the 'resistance front' in Lebanon and Palestine." Every rational person, he said, had to understand that defeat in the war in Syria meant defeat for Iran. He added that the United States and Israel imagined they could bring Iran to its knees by establishing ISIS, but their plan was foiled by Iraq's victory, won by virtue of high ranking Iraqi clerics, the Shi'ite popular militias and the Iraqi army (Mehr, July 18, 2017).
Iranian Intervention in Syria
- Hossein Jaberi Ansari, deputy foreign minister for Arab-African affairs, said Iran's presence in Syria did not depend on the agreement brokered by the United States and Russia. After meeting with Alexander Lavrentiev, President Putin's special envoy for Syrian affairs, Ansari said Iran maintained a limited presence in Syria upon the request of the Syrian government and bilateral Syrian-Iranian agreements. The Russian-American agreement, he said, would have no effective practical effect on the presence of Iranian forces in Syria (Fars, July 17, 2017).
- On July 19 and 20, 2017, Hossein Jaberi Ansari paid a visit to Syria, where he met with senior Syrian officials and leaders of the Palestinian factions in Damascus. Meeting with President Assad, he stressed Iran's ongoing support for restoring stability to Syria based on preserving its unity and territorial integrity. Assad thanked Iran for its support. Ansari also met with Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis and with Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem. They discussed regional developments and bilateral relations (Fars and Mehr, July 19 and 20, 2017). From Syria Ansari went to Iraq, where he met with senior Iraqi officials and participated in deliberations held by the joint Iran-Iraq political committee. Meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Ansari stressed that Iran would also continue its support for Iraq after the victory over ISIS in Mosul (ISNA, July 23, 2017).
Iranian Intervention in Iraq
- At a conference of IRGC ground force commanders held in the city of Mashhad on July 17, 2017, Mohammad Bagheri, chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, said the planned referendum for the future of Iraqi Kurdistan was unacceptable to Iraq's neighbors and that preserving Iraq's unity and territorial integrity served the interests of all groups in Iraq (Fars, July 17, 2017).
- Nechervan Barzani prime minister of the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government, meeting with Iraj Masjedi, the Iran ambassador to Iraq, said Iran played an important role in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. He said Iran could help by reducing the tension between the central government in Baghdad and the authorities of the Kurdish region. Masjedi stressed the importance of promoting relations between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan, saying Iran was prepared to help Baghdad and Erbil resolve their differences (IRNA, July 17, 2017).
- On July 17, 2017, a delegation of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) headed by Kosrat Rasoul Ali, the deputy secretary general of the PUK, and Mala Bakhtiar, head of the executive body of its political bureau, met with Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme Council for National Security, and discussed developments in Iraqi Kurdistan and the region in general in the wake of the liberation of Mosul from ISIS. Shamkhani reiterated Iran's official position, which rejected holding a referendum regarding independence for the Kurdish region. He said it would lead to the isolation of the Kurds in Iraq, increase pressure on them, and weaken both Kurdistan and all of Iraq (Tasnim, July 17, 2017).
- On July 22, 2017, Iraqi Defense Minister Irfan al-Hayali arrived in Tehran for a visit at the invitation of Iran's Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan. While he was there a memorandum of understanding was signed for the increase of bilateral security cooperation. At a meeting of the two defense ministers, Dehqan said Iran and Iraq were united in the fight against regional terrorism, and that Iran would continue its support of Iraq after the victory over ISIS in Mosul (IRNA, July 22, 2017). Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme Council for National Security, warned al-Hayali against "plots" and efforts for separatism intended to damage Iraq's territorial integrity and security, and to undermine its stability (Fars, July 23, 2017).
Iranian Intervention in the Palestinian Arena
- Reacting to the tension on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, special international affairs advisor to the speaker of the Majlis, called for an immediate, serious response from the international and Islamic communities to "the crimes of the Zionist regime." He said the demonstrations held by the Palestinians proved the Palestinian people were no longer willing to suffer the crimes carried out by the Zionists, and that limiting the entrance to al-Aqsa mosque would lead to a new intifada. He said Iran condemned the "Zionist crimes" and supported the Palestinian people and their resistance to the Zionists (Mehr, July 23, 2017). In the wake of the deteriorating situation in Jerusalem, Abdollahian, who is also the secretary general of the International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada, met with Khaled Qaddoumi, Hamas representative in Tehran, and Nasser Abu-Sharif, Palestinian Islamic Jihad representative in Tehran. He told them Iran was prepared to send drugs and medical equipment for Palestinians who had been injured in clashes with the IDF in Jerusalem (Mehr, July 23 and 24, 2017).
- Bahram Qasemi, spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, also condemned Israel's actions in Jerusalem, saying the UN had to act with determination to counteract the "Zionist regime's" policies of "racist, religious discrimination" (Fars, July 23, 2017).
- On July 24, 2017, the IRGC published a statement regarding the escalating crisis in Jerusalem. It condemned the "Zionist regime's attack on al-Aqsa mosque," the limitations Israel placed on Palestinians wanting to pray in the mosque, and the silence of the international community and leaders of some of the Arab states regarding "Zionist crimes." The IRGC warned that the consequences of Israel's actions would spread to those who have remained silent in Islamic countries and to those who pretend to protect human rights. It called for mobilization of support for "a new intifada" in Palestine and an Islamic resistance to the "Zionists" in order to keep Israel from carrying out its plans to Judaize Jerusalem. The IRGC stressed its support for jihad through the "liberation" of Jerusalem (Tasnim, July 24, 2017).
- [*]Spotlight on Iran is an Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center bulletin illuminating Iran's activities to establish its influence in the Middle East and beyond. It is based on reports in the Iranian media and written for the ITIC by Dr. Raz Zimmt, an expert on Iran's politics, society, foreign policy and social networks.