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The Defense Department Recognizes Iran’s Proxy War

Does America have a plan to stop the Iranians? Or, is the killing of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan acceptable?

1:00 PM, Apr 20, 2010 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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A newly released Department of Defense report on the Iranian military threat is getting a lot of attention because it says Iran may have ballistic missiles capable of striking the U.S. by 2015. It is understandable that this part of the assessment has gotten so much notice. It clearly contradicts what the Obama administration was saying just several months ago. But there is more to the report, which was submitted to Congress as required by the National Defense Authorization Act and details the “current and future military strategy of Iran.”

Namely, the DoD has confirmed, once again, that the Iranians are in the business of waging a proxy war against America and her allies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Simply put, the Iranians are in the business of killing Americans.

The report’s authors explain Iran’s strategy:

Iran seeks to increase its stature by countering U.S. influence and expanding ties with regional actors while advocating Islamic solidarity. It also seeks to demonstrate to the world its “resistance” to the West. Iran is attempting to secure political, economic, and security influence in Iraq and Afghanistan while undermining U.S. efforts by supporting various political groups, providing developmental and humanitarian assistance, and furnishing lethal aid to Iraqi Shia militants and Afghan insurgents.

 The primary vehicle the Iranian regime uses to implement this policy is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force, which “clandestinely exert[s] military, political, and economic power to advance Iranian national interests abroad.”

The DoD says the IRGC-QF’s “global activities include: gathering tactical intelligence; conducting covert diplomacy; providing training, arms, and financial support to surrogate groups and terrorist organizations; and facilitating some of Iran’s provision of humanitarian and economic support to Islamic causes.” The IRGC is also the chief Iranian benefactor of Hezbollah in Lebanon and elsewhere. In fact, as the DoD goes on to note, the IRGC has been responsible for launching terrorist attacks against Americans, such as the 1983 embassy bombing in Lebanon and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. Both of those attacks were Hezbollah operations.  


The DoD hones in on Iran’s duplicitous behavior in Afghanistan. Overtly, Iran pledges its support and continued assistance, while also portraying itself as the peacemaker. However, Iran also supports the actors who seek to destabilize and overthrow the Afghan government. 

Here is the key paragraph on Iran’s relationships with the Afghan government’s opposition:

Tehran has also leveraged long time relationships with numerous officials such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Ismail Khan, both of whom lived in Iran for a period of time. Arms caches have been recently uncovered with large amounts of Iranian manufactured weapons, to include 107mm rockets, which we assess IRGC-QF delivered to Afghan militants. While it is difficult to determine the exact time the arms were brought into Afghanistan, their recent manufacture date suggests lethal support is ongoing. Tehran’s support to the Taliban is inconsistent with their historic enmity, but fits with Iran’s strategy of backing many groups to ensure that it will have a positive relationship with the eventual leaders.

There are three bad actors mentioned in the paragraph. First, there is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is a longtime powerbroker in Afghanistan and was once the nation’s prime minister. Hekmatyar lost the contest for control of Afghanistan in the 1990s to the Taliban. He then relocated to Iran, where he lived for several years. After 9/11, Hekmatyar left Iran. He and his organization have coordinated mostly small-scale attacks on American forces along with al Qaeda and the Taliban ever since. Hekmatyar has been one of Osama bin Laden’s close allies for decades.

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