The deputy commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) claimed that Iran’s power in the region was growing, and that Israel was not secure despite its comprehensive security and defense measures. “Hezbollah and the revolutionary youths of the Muslim world can target the fake regime of Israel anytime they decide to do so,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami said at a ceremony in the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz on Thursday. “International political equations show that the empire of the West is sinking and the Islamic sun has risen and the enemy’s destruction is imminent,” he boasted, adding that Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution has emboldened resistance movements across the Middle East.
Comment: The repeated call for the destruction of Israel by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and I.R.G.C. generals discredits the Rouhani government’s claims that the Islamic Republic does not pose any threat to the security and sovereignty of regional countries. On February 23, Rouhani’s defense minister, Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan, said Iran would not halt its production of ballistic missiles and emphasized that “the primary and religious duty of Muslims at present is to liberate Jerusalem and to destroy the cancerous seed of evil Zionism.” And at the International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada (Uprising) days earlier, Khamanei had issued a similar threat. Moreover, as tension between Washington and Tehran is escalating, Iranian leaders repeatedly warn that they will target Israel if Iran is attacked.
The I.R.G.C. has been providing financial aid and weapons to Hezbollah to fight Israel since the 1980s. Recent statements by I.R.G.C. leaders, however, indicate that Tehran may also use its Afghan and Iraqi Shiite militia proxies against Israel once the wars in Syria and Iraq are over. Indeed, a powerful Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite group, Harakat al-Nujaba, announced on Wednesday the creation of a new brigade to “liberate” the Golan Heights from Israel. “After the latest victories [in Syria and Iraq], we established the ‘Golan Liberation Brigade’. This is a trained army with specific plans. If the government of Syria requests, we and our allies are ready to take action to liberate Golan,” Hashem al-Moussawi, the group’s spokesman of Harakat al-Nujaba said at a press conference in Tehran.