The Middle East is witnessing the birth of a new Persian empire, under the aegis of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In fact, when Iranian officials gloat over their control of four Arab capitals, they are being uncharacteristically modest.
Tehran’s hegemony has spread far beyond Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, and Sana’a. But this latest incarnation of Imperial Iran is unique in that it is virtually invisible. Iranian flags do not fly above the centers of government in these capitals, and the foot soldiers of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps – Quds Force (IRGC-QF) do not march in their streets.
Tehran has contracted this clandestine conquest out to an ever-expanding list of loyal proxies. They mutate and fracture into new entities, adopt new names, and operate in different roles and locations; but this constellation of proxies orbits around Iran, effectively masking the Islamic Republic’s increasing control over the Middle East.
It seems important, then, to recall that the U.S. Treasury Department has designated the IRGC-QF and its commander for activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and support for terrorism, accusing the Quds Force in 2007 of providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist groups.
The Justice Department cited the group as “conduct[ing] sensitive covert operations abroad, including terrorist attacks, assassinations and kidnappings, and is believed to sponsor attacks against Coalition Forces in Iraq.”