An Iranian lawmaker defended the presence of the Islamic Republic’s security and intelligence operatives in Middle Eastern war zones, and emphasized that the United States and its allies should realize that Iran now shaped and controlled security and political dynamics in the region.
The comment by Javad Karimi-Ghodousi, a member of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, came after US State Department Spokesman John Kirby said on December 19 that frequent visits by Iran’s Quds Force commander to regional countries violated the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the UN Security Council Resolution 2231. Photographs of Qassem Suleimani touring the Syrian besieged city of Aleppo were recently published in the Iranian media.
“In future, Westerners must seek permission from the Islamic Republic of Iran for their trips to the region,” said Karimi-Ghodousi, who was a commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). “A trip by the officials of the Islamic Republic is a trip to their own home,” he told IRGC mouthpiece Javan Online.
Karimi-Ghodousi’s remarks are further evidence of Iran’s expansionist ambitions in the region. It is not the first time that Iranian leaders openly defend their subversive activities and hegemonic agenda in the Middle East. They often lay claim to Bahrain and pursue a concerted soft-power and hard-power strategy to control political and security developments in regional countries from Afghanistan to Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and beyond. Suleimani, as the IRGC’s chief external operations commander, has been directly responsible for much of instability in Iraq and Syria as well as for the death of thousands of Americans, Iraqis and Syrians.