Studies

Iranian Sleeper Cells in Arab States

Study Summary

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has intervened in the affairs of the Arab states for the past three decades in varying degrees and forms within a systematic framework. Also, senior commanders of the IRGC have been directly involved in the IRGC’s intervention in the region, which expanded until 2013 and continued with new drives after the nuclear agreement 5 + 1.

IRGC were directly involved in a concealed occupation of four states: Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. In most of the Arab states, IRGC established cells or elements belonging to it, and terrorist activities related to the IRGC have been active especially in the Gulf states except Oman which had helped the Iranian regime circumvent sanctions.

IRGC has carried out intelligence activities in many of these states. Spies and agents of the Iranian regime have been arrested, and some of them have been prosecuted. IRGC have also sent weapons and explosives in large quantities to Arab countries. Each month, hundreds in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Lebanon – countries where the regime is involved – receive training and sent back to provoke wars and terrorism.

The IRGC’s intervention is not confined to the military arena, but it plays an important role in Tehran’s foreign policy. That foreign policy is managed by the regime’s leader, Ali Khamenei. Therefore, the expansion and development of foreign policy and its implementation in some countries are officially confined to IRGC forces. The IRGC effectively controls foreign policy through many embassies. The embassies of the Iranian regime in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Yemen and Bahrain can be referred to.

The ambassadors of the Iranian regime in other countries, such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, are recruited from the ranks of the IRGC or bodies close to it. This method of selection is used to enable the IRGC to pursue its activities and to pass its agendas through the opportunities available to those with diplomatic status and enjoy diplomatic immunity as ambassadors and embassies. The IRGC seems to be one of the most important economic institutions in Iran and in charge of the financial costs of regime’s foreign interventions.

With regard to Syria alone, over the past five years, Tehran has spent more than $ 100 billion. A large portion of this budget has been allocated through Khamenei’s office. These funds have been spent on arms and costs of the regular army in Syria. The Tehran regime also spends about 1 billion dollars annually to pay the salaries of militias and forces linked to the IRGC, including members of the Syrian armed forces as well as militias and Shiite factions supported by the regime.

IRGC has the Intelligence and Information Unit, and this apparatus acts as an alternate for the country’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security. More importantly, the IRGC has expanded its intelligence and information activities throughout the region and has established numerous intelligence centres in various countries in recent months.

While Tehran is focusing its attention on the Shiite sector in various countries of the region and escalating sectarian tensions, it is also recruiting elements to form different groups and militias. But the IRGC is never confined to Shiite groups, and the common denominator among the different militias formed by the IRGC is their loyalty to Khamenei, obedience to him and following his orders.

Introduction

Intervention in the internal affairs of other countries, in particular the export of terrorism and extremism, is not a marginal policy of the Tehran regime but is linked to internal repression. There is a second strategic pillar for the Iranian regime’s survival, and misunderstanding of this reality leads to erroneous analyses of the capabilities of the mullahs. Based on this policy, the Iranian regime has focused its attention on Shiites in various countries of the region, fueling sectarian tensions and organising and recruiting forces to form groups and militias associated with the IRGC. However, at the same time, Tehran has helped Sunni terrorist groups to achieve its goal. The common denominator among the militias formed by the IRGC is that they consider themselves imitators and followers of the regime’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, as Al-Wali Al-Faqih for Muslims. They resort to violence and criminal acts in order to achieve the expansionist objectives of the mullahs’ regime in the region. These groups are supplied with weapons and funds by the Iranian IRGC. (1)

The Islamic IRGC was founded in May 1979, only three months after the mullahs came to power in an entity that bears no reference to Iran, as an entity that transcends Iran’s geographical borders and is under the authority of Al-Wali Al-Faqih and seeks to establish the Islamic caliphate. Article 11 of the IRGC’s Rules of Procedure, which was drafted and adopted in 1979, states: “The training of members of the IRGC is carried out in accordance with Islamic teachings and standards and on the basis of the guidelines of the Wilayat Al-Faqih in the intellectual, political and military spheres in order to acquire the required skills and the ability to implement tasks assigned to it,” which means the task of maintaining the dictatorship of the Al-Wali Al-Faqih by interfering in the affairs of other countries in the region and the exporting of terrorism. “The army’s duty is to protect Iran’s geographical borders, but the IRGC does not have the word ‘Iran’ in its title. This means that it seeks to defend the Islamic revolution and its achievements without regard to particular borders,” said IRGC’s Brigadier General Ahmad Gholampour. (2)

IRGC is the regime’s most powerful and efficient institution, and, to a large extent, Iran’s international and regional influence in the Middle East depends on this institution, which represents an ideological army that believes in the ideology of the Iranian Khomeinist revolution. (3)

The cultural attachés offices in the Iranian embassies are made up of IRGC officers under the cover of culture. They have been trained professionally to export their revolution. Their main task is to form Shiite cells in the countries where they are located. These cells begin with Shiite religious aspect then working for the mullas’ intelligence agency. After that, a sect is formed then militias and then an attempt to dominate the state and then the civil war destroying the nation. This is the chain of intelligence work carried out by Iran embassies through its cultural attaché, whose activity is strengthened and increases when the relations are calm and natural between the two countries. IRGC depends most at the beginning of the formation of a Shiite cells following Al-Wali Al-Faqih in a country on working secretly and away from suspicion; as chaos is the goal and not the beginning nor the means to a certain stage in the implementation of the Iranian agenda.

First: Iran’s cells in the Gulf states

Iran’s activities harmful to Arab national security have taken practical real forms on the territories of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. This is what was highlighted by the many facts announced by the GCC states holding Iran accountable, and there are dozens of incidents in recent years, which declared by the GCC countries to express Iranian involvement to destabilise their security, and the involvement of Iranian elements in cells and networks of espionage and violence in favour of Iran. (4)

Sleeper cells are defined as cells or organised groups that operate secretly and are used by the bodies they belong to or which they are tied to intellectually, ideologically or ideologically to carry out specific tasks within the society in which they live. It is common knowledge that the functions of sleeper cells are reflected in two matters: espionage, in order to collect information, whether militarily, socially, economically or other, for the benefit of the body they belong to; and carrying out subversive activities (spreading sedition, practising violence, destabilising security and stability, forming armed militias, damaging the national economy .. etc) in favour of the same body. Sleeper cells are very dangerous, as they are related to the concept of the fifth column, which is more lethal than regular military forces, because they represent secret forces disguised in civilian clothes, and it is difficult to know their number, equipments and ways of financing. A good observer of the file of Iranian cells in the Gulf region would notice that it is a major line of defence of Iran in the face of any possible US-Israeli risks against it because of its nuclear programme. It is one of Iran’s main tools in managing the regional conflict in the Gulf region, as Iran depends on it more than any other organised institution in the region to spread its revolutionary ideas and use it as leverage in the event of a military attack on it or if attacking it is being considered. Thus, one can’t wonder of the status these cells have or of the support they receive, as Iran offers them all support, and even seeks to increase their numbers, and develop them in line with the requirements of the current circumstances, as it entrusted the file of the cells in the Gulf region to the IRGC. (5)

There is no truer account than the testimony of the diplomat and consul-dissident Adel Al-Asadi, when he revealed to Al-Arabiya.net the details of the recruitment and training of citizens from Gulf countries in Iran and that most of them are Shiites and form sleeper cells in their countries and Iran are calls them to go to it and undergo military and security trainings, and then return to their countries in a ready position to carry out what Iran orders them. He said: “Sleeping cells are too many, and their work is – now – focused on getting news and other things for the Iranian government. And the cells would wake up according to the need of the Iranian government.” (6)

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Iran has a clearly defined strategy which is the active intervention in the neighborhood, a strategy that any sane person can see clearly, and it relies on two intertwined levels; the first is the intensified attack from all directions on Saudi Arabia because it is the largest (Gulf state), and because any success in disrupting its position means the fall of the other Gulf states to Iran as a ripe fruit. The second level is the building of a network of loyalists in the smaller Gulf states in ways that suit the internal situation of each country, using soft words for some of them. This two-pronged strategy is now applied and is moving ahead regardless of the different leaderships in Tehran. It is a strategy stemming from what the decision maker in Tehran sees as, first, protecting his regime, and, second, is that it is successful in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon, and it pays off through agents who are not ashamed to declare allegiance outside their homelands and against the interests of their people; therefore why not spread this strategy? And it is based on what can be called hitting pottery with pottery (i.e., fighting Arabs by Arabs). (7)

Despite a brief period of Iranian-Saudi rapprochement – especially on the security level, where the importance of the Iranian-Saudi security agreement, officially signed by Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz and his Iranian counterpart Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari on April 16, 2001 in Tehran was highlighted after lengthy consultations and mutual visits between security officials of both countries continued for two years as a basis for good-neighborly relations and the elimination of the term ‘export of the revolution’ from the Iranian Revolutionary dictionary in the era of Mohammad Khatami and the reformist government that has already reduced half way to access to the rest of the Gulf countries because of Riyadh’s influence in Gulf Cooperation Council – (8) However, Adel Al-Asadi, the Iranian diplomat who broke away from the Iranian Foreign Ministry in 2007 and then served as Iran Iranian ambassador and general consul in Dubai, said: “What happened at the 1987 Hajj rituals was that the IRGC and the Iranian intelligence planned to occupy the Kaaba, and most of those they sent to the pilgrimage in that year were members of the Guards and the intelligence services, but the vigilance of the Saudi security forces and their timely movement thwarted this despicable conspiracy. All in all, the tensions heightened between Iran and Saudi Arabia at that time to the extent that Ayatullah Montazeri (Khomeini deputy then) protested the Iranian government at that time.” (9)

Recently, Saudi Arabia has not, of course, been immune to those networks that spread particularly in the Arabian Gulf. On March 19, 2013, Saudi Arabia announced the arrest of an 18-person spy network, including 16 Saudi Shiites, an Iranian and a Lebanese, who were directly linked to Iranian intelligence services, aiming at collecting information on vital facilities. At that time, the Saudi authorities explained that the cell contained figures holding high-level positions in the economic, financial and academic fields. The case ended with sentencing 15 defendants to imprisonment between six months and 25 years. (10)

The United Arab Emirates

In mid-January 2012, the UAE’s Federal Supreme Court issued a seven-year prison term for the accused Salim Musa Fayrouz Khamis, a UAE national who confessed to spying for a foreign country. The UAE confirmed then that the suspect had contacted intelligence officers in a consulate of a foreign country, who work under various consular titles. (11) The UAE’s security authorities also announced arresting an Iranian espionage cell consisting of a young man and a woman attempting to provide the Iranian intelligence with military information harmful to UAE national security. Emirati state WAM news agency said that the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeals issued verdicts in six security cases in which 13 defendants were convicted and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 18 months to 15 years, and fines ranging from 6,000 dirhams (about 1,600 US dollars) to 1 million dirhams (about 272,000 US dollars), in addition to paying judicial expenses and deportation from the country after serving the sentences. The state security prosecutor also accused a Gulf national of contacting a foreign country, Iran, seeking to supply it with military information related to his employer which would damage the state’s the military status. The second defendant – a female – in that case was involved by agreement and assistance with the first defendant in contacting a foreign country, Iran, by agreeing to meet with the military attaché at the Iranian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, to facilitate the first defendant meeting with him to show the military information he has, and to communicate with Iran. (12)

Emirati media including Al-Bayan and Al-Ittihad newspapers reported that the UAE authorities have ordered the confiscation of papers, information contents and the means of communication containing the information on the case, and their commitment to judicial expenses, for the charge of providing an embassy of a foreign country with special military information that would damage the state’s military status. The court sentenced the Gulf defendant to 15 years in prison, the second Arab defendant to 10 years in prison and to be expelled from the state after the sentence is served, meaning that the she is not Iranian.

The state of Kuwait

Iran does not hide its obvious hostility to its surroundings under its expansionist plans and the dreams of the Persian empire that it aspires to. It has tried through spy networks and its allies and arms in the region to penetrate to the Arab depth and export its ideas and terror to it with the aim of creating chaos and confusion in the region. Kuwait had a great share of these Iranian interference. Despite the long relations between the two countries and Tehran’s recognition of the independence of Kuwait among the first countries to do so, these relations have always been tainted by periods of tension caused by many of the crises that took place between the two countries, on top of which are the spy networks planted by Iran inside Kuwait, which comes under the Iranian conspiracy extended to the country, which has seen several major stations over the past decades. This is in addition to terrorist operations and attempts backed by Tehran. Kuwait-Iran relations are permanent cautious in light of the policies of the Iranian side which are dangerous to the security of the Gulf and the region, and its various movements that have caused this caution reinforced by many situations that clearly reveal the involvement of Tehran in conspiring against Kuwait, which was proved by the Iranian espionage cells discovered in Kuwait and terrorist operations supported by Iran and its allies and various arms. (13)

Soon after a final verdict was issued in Kuwait against a group that was firmly proved that they had prepared themselves in agreement with Hezbollah, and in meetings, some of which were sponsored by the Iranian Embassy; many questions were raised therein. One of them is what makes the Iranian model attractive or appealing to some Gulf citizens? What tempts a Kuwaiti or Gulf citizen to be attracted to the Iranian model?

It can not be said that Gulf citizens live comfortably without troubles, but for any sane person, their situation concerning relative freedoms, availability of public livelihoods, even freedom of belief, general economic situation and even personal security are better by any measure compared to the suffering of Iranian citizens who present their children to wars or their living conditions deteriorate, and the worst is restricting of freedoms severely. This is on one hand. On the other hand, It is no less important that Gulf Shiites (mostly Arabs), even some of which are of Iranian origins became of Arab culture and integrated in it, and made obvious contributions to develop their countries; all of these are seen by the Iranian regime as nomads, (barefoot and locust-eaters)! And the Iranian model through the Lebanese-Iranian Hezbollah, which is intended by Iran to damage the social fabric in the Gulf states, weaken the authority of the state, bring about division among the components of society and push some people to “sympathise” with the few, in preparation to deepen division among citizens and then spread of Iranian influence and control of the state from within. This is a declaration of war no less. And it is of wise thinking to approach to the case of Hezbollah the Kuwaiti (Al-Abdali cell), not as being a local Kuwaiti, it is a Gulf and an Arab case, and an issue of national security that deserves deep thinking to mitigate its damages by a clear understanding of Iranian objectives. (14)

Despite Kuwait recognised the new Iranian regime at the beginning of the Iranian revolution, wary relations took the form of tension and decline between the two countries, especially after Tehran targeted the Umm Al-Aish oil field in Kuwait with a missile, which led to tension between the two countries until relations reached their lowest levels. And what strengthened the flare-up between the two countries was Iran involvement in a major plot in 1985 that aimed at the assassination of the Kuwait’s emir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, in parallel with bombings in Kuwait during that period with indications of involvement of Iran, including the bombings in December 1983 (Bombings of the French and American embassies and Kuwait airport) and Iran-backed Lebanese organisations later were accused of carrying them out. This is in addition to an incident that occurred in 1988, the hijacking of the Kuwait Airways (Al Jaberiya) aircraft and also the attack on Kuwaiti oil tankers in the Gulf waters. All of these incidents were indicative of Tehran’s involvement in its attempts to destabilise the security and stability of the Gulf states. In 2011, Kuwait expelled Iranian diplomats for involvement in an espionage case. The Iranian espionage network came within the framework of the Iranian interventions and the cells that Tehran sought to plant in the countries of the region to achieve its expansionist objectives and to prepare for its project. That period witnessed the escalation of the continental shelf crisis associated with the maritime border between the two countries. (15)

There are also the recent events in both Bahrain and Kuwait. In Bahrain,  it was disclosed that a minister of state and other important figures holding high positions in the Kingdom were involved in a charge of laundering money estimated at about 32 million dollars for the IRGC; and in Kuwait, there was the disclosure a cell of six Kuwaiti military personnel in the Ministry of Defense and two stateless soldiers, as well as two Lebanese who are still at large, involved in the espionage network operating for the IRGC meant to monitor Kuwaiti vital and military installations and the positions of US forces in the country. Add to this the obvious Iranian intervention in the recent elections in Kuwait, where ther were mediation efforts to unify the Shiite community and resolve internal differences. Some observers view this as Iran’s putting a hand on Kuwait Shiites in the face the authorities’ efforts to contain them and bring them closer. The two incidents have a number of implications of the renewal of tasks of Iranian cells in the Gulf states. The Bahrain and Kuwait cells and their high-ranking figures, including a minister of state, the military and others, reveal Iran’s ability to let its cells penetrate first ranks in the Gulf States. Also, timing of discovering them leads us to a conclusion that we have to take into account that Iran could have a role in discovering the two cells as a kind alarm to all the Gulf states if they agreed on striking Iran. (16)

It is not the first time Kuwait has been able to discover Iranian spy cells, as it has already discovered many Iranian spy cells. The first was in May 2010, when the Kuwaiti security services succeeded in dismantling a network of communications and espionage in favour of the IRGC, which monitors Kuwaiti vital and military installations and the positions of the American forces in the country, and at least seven people were arrested while six or seven managed to escape. The same was repeated in September 2012, when the Kuwaiti security services were able to dismantle another Iranian espionage cell in a husseiniyya in Bnied Al-Gar suburb, with the biggest spy network known to Kuwait was arrested, with 39 IRGC officers, and 58 others of different ranks, in addition to the seizure of high-quality eavesdropping and spy devices, with laptops to communicate with the Iranian intelligence, and a large number of weapons and cluster bombs in the basement. In 2013, the government of Kuwait announced that the Iranian spy networks had photographed the Kuwaiti and US military installations and handed them over to the Iranian military and security apparatuses. The government recalled its ambassador from Tehran and revealed that the spy network planted its members in the military establishment, specifically the army, where they reached accurate information on the computer. (17)

Bahrain

Although the major Shiite parties in Bahrain do not have military militias, as in Lebanon and Iraq, they move the political street there through demonstrations, marches and provoking Iran-backed public opinion, as happened in 2011 and 2012. (18)

On April 12, 2011, Bahrain announced the trial of two Iranians and a Bahraini as they (the two) were working with the IRGC, with the intention of damaging the state’s military, political, and economic status and national interests. This was repeated on May 27, 2012, where a Bahraini court sentenced six people to 15 years in prison for having been convicted of collaborating with Iran being in contact with the IRGC and the Basij militias. (19)

On the backdrop of this Iranian intervention in Bahrain, Manama summoned its ambassador from Tehran. Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also asked Iranian embassy second secretary, Hujatullah Rahmani, to leave the country within 72 hours for belonging to an Iranian spy network in the country. In May 2013, Bahraini interior minister Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa announced the seizure of an Iranian drone aiming at spying in the Gulf waters between his country and Saudi Arabia. He then revealed the repeated seizures of explosives smuggled from Iran to his country. At that time, four terror plots were thwarted, including a shipment of arms across the sea coming from Iraq, in addition to thwarting a smuggling attempt of wanted people to Iran. (20)

Sultanate of Oman

Omani-Iranian relations were not affected after the Islamic revolution came to power in Iran, unlike other Gulf and Arab countries in particular. After the elimination of the socialist communist revolution (Dhofar rebellion) in southern Oman with the help of Iran and other countries, and the elimination of the political / religious Ibadi project at home with the help of the English, the tide of Saudi Arabia emerged in the Arabian Gulf region, which posed a direct threat to the political power in Oman. This led to greater Omani-Iranian rapprochement, and the relationship between them remained strong and firm to prevent any advancement of Wahhabi Islam. (21)

The Saudi threat, or the so-called political shift in bilateral relations between Oman and Iran, can be considered, as Oman saw Iran’s desire to extend Shiite influence as less dangerous. Both countries needed to support each other and build a good neighbourly relationship because of the dimensions that were likely to be produced by Saudi Arabia’s desire to expand, at the time. And regardless of the differences of existing regimes, and whatever the controversy about this view, the regime in Oman was looking, few years ago, that the unity of the Omani soil was threatened in the south by interference of leftist movements in Aden and Arab support for the rebels of Dhofar. At the time, Iran was the only party that did not show any regional ambitions for Oman, but was financially and morally helpful. Recently, when the economic blockade was imposed on Tehran because of its nuclear program, Muscat was acting as a mediator between Iran and the West and hosted secret meetings between diplomats and security leaders from both sides since 2011. (22)

Yemen

Because the government of Iran is clever at exploiting crises and not just making them, Tehran has tried to exploit the deterioration of the security situation in several Arab countries with the outbreak of the Arab Spring revolutions, by spreading the largest number of its spies in the region, until more than one Arab country announced the arrest of Iranian spy cells on their territories, and the elements of those cells were referred to the trials in the midst of official Iranian silence.

In July 2012, Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi addressed the Iranians saying: “Leave Yemen alone,” after the Yemeni security forces arrested six Iranian spy cells linked to a command center and supervised by a former officer in the IRGC, in charge of supervising the cells’ operations in Yemen and the Horn of Africa. The Yemeni president said during a lecture in the United States that “five spy networks operating for Iran has been detected and referred to the judiciary previously “, and then a sixth network was revealed, and Iran was accused of supporting the Houthi sectarian rebellion in northern Yemen. At that time, spokesman of Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ramin Mehmanparast, said that “Making such claims will not solve the problems of Yemen, and Yemeni government officials should try to hear the voice and demands of the people to meet these demands, as these claims are untrue.” However, the Yemeni Ministry of Defence announced on its official website that a cell of Iranian spies who were importing military equipment into Yemen had been discovered. Although the Yemeni Ministry of Defence did not identify them at that time, the investigations proved them to be members of the IRGC. Mehmanparast claimed that the members of the network were planning to launch a factory in Yemen as if they were Iranian investors, but Hadi’s government confirmed that the equipment imported to Yemen could be used to make rockets and other weapons to meet the needs of the Houthi rebels in the country’s north. (23)

While Yemeni sources note that the Iranian spy cells in Yemen began their work since the second war in Saada between the Houthis and the Yemeni government, other sources indicate that the Iranian espionage activity began early in Yemen since the revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini, and pointed out that the Iranian spy centres are widespread under various banners in Yemen, on top of them was the Iranian Medical Centre, which was closed in Sanaa, and these banners were not far from the roles of the Iranian embassy in Sanaa. Security sources had talked about the arrest of a Syrian person in Hadramout province who possessed large amounts of money and documents described as important and dangerous. Also, media leaks indicated that the leader of the Iranian espionage cell, which its discovery was announced in July 2012, was of Iraqi nationality and an IRGC agent, and he works as an engineer in a foreign oil company in Yemen. Beirut was not far from this devilish alliance. Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper quoted a senior Yemeni official as saying that there is coordination between the armed faction led by a leader of the southern movement and the Houthis to recruit young people and send them to Beirut, where they receive combat training in camps that follow the Lebanese Hezbollah. (24)

Second: Iran’s cells in Iraq and Levant

Observers say that Iran’s alliance in the region is trying to retaliate against Jordan because of its stances to reject the creation of regional axes or re-division of the region according to sectarian considerations, especially since Jordanian King Abdullah II was the first to warn in 2004 of the Shiite crescent which Iran is trying to turn into a fait accompli. (25)

Meanwhile, the former director of the CIA, general David Petraeus said that the Iran-backed cells are now in the Iraqi territory, and seek to compete strongly for power after the defeat of ISIS. At the first session of the IISS Manama Dialogue, Petraeus stressed that the Americans are committed to supporting the Iraqis and rebuilding their country. In this regard, the general said: Iran is trying to “lebanonise” Iraq and Syria and seeks to form a Shiite crescent between these countries, ensuring the ease of movement in the region. Also on Iraq, Petraeus spoke of the need to integrate military factions into official military forces and not to be an independent militia. “This is a very sensitive issue and acting quickly is a must,” he said, referring to the Popular Mobilisation Forces militia. (26)

Iraq

Iran has pursued a foreign policy through which it has extended its influence inside Iraq. One of the most prominent decisions of this policy was the development of Iranian relations with the Iraqi religious leaders and the security penetration in the official and public Iraqi circles, including the formation of espionage security cells it formed within the Iraqi militias which came mostly from Iran, such as the Badr Forces that were planted inside Iraqi institutions and cities, and then the opening of Iranian intelligence centres in most Iraqi cities and managing them by elements of the Iranian Quds Force. (27)

The coalition of Iraqi Sunni forces recently unveiled the Iranian intelligence institutions operating in Iraq secretly and publicly, citing information about them through a list of the names of about 36 Iranian institutions. It confirmed Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, became the de facto ruler of Iraq through these institutions, which are presented under various social, cultural and charitable forms and titles, with their common point is working under the mullahs. They have been in action since 2003, after the mullahs’ regime in Qom and Tehran opened very large numbers of institutions and organisations that ostensibly provide services to needy and simple families in a number of Iraqi cities, but are in fact linked to Iranian intelligence and mullahs’ offices. All of them contribute directly or indirectly in the implementation of the Iranian strategy in Iraq. (28)

Syria

The motive for Iran’s Shiite agents to intervene in Syria is the fear that the overthrow of the Assad regime would lead to an existential threat to Shiism, a fear Tehran is encouraging. Iran is building social and religious networks centered around Shiism and supporting Iranian theocracy. Through technical support and the sophisticated use of political propaganda, Iran is amplifying the voice of its agents. Collectively, these agents allow Tehran to circumvent local and national authorities, eventually forming governments, settling disputes, and thus controlling policies.

This bothers local political actors, but in war-devastated countries, Iran’s competitors are often so weak that they cannot face its plans and communication networks on the ground. Unlike the timid alternating role of US officials and military commanders, Soleimani and his men enjoy much independence and long-term engagement in the region. Soleimani has been leading the Quds Force since 1998, and he and his aides have invested decades of time and effort in developing relations with armed groups and political parties from all walks of life throughout the region. (29)

Jordan

Iran views Jordan as the Wadi Al-Yabis region through which it seeks to realise its dream of becoming the promised center of the empire according to the concepts of the Iranian “revolution”. Hence, we see Iran’s repeated attempts to find a foothold for its military power along Jordanian geography and its insistence on penetrating Jordanian security. (30)

Jordanian sources said that Iran’s efforts to destabilise Jordan have not stopped a day since Abdullah II ascended to the throne after his father. They explained that the Iranian regime viewed Abdullah from the very beginning as a weak king and that there is an opportunity for Tehran to extend its influence in Jordan. They pointed out that the regime in Iran has only recently discovered that nothing has changed in Jordan and that the new king is no less firm and resolute than his father, even more resolute than his father. (31) Despite bilateral visits between Jordanian officials and representatives of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Jordanian intelligence service discovered the growing opportunities to form Syrian sleeper cells likely to be assigned specific tasks by Iran. In Jordan this poses a threat to Jordanian security. The so-called sleeper cells are undoubtedly preparing to launch reprisals against the Syrians whom Iran and the Syrian regime do not want to return to Syria. In addition, these sleeper cells will be placed to attack Jordanian interests that oppose Iran’s continuing role in the massacre of the Syrian people. (32)

Jordanian sources revealed that the first attempt to destabilise Jordan was through Hezbollah, which sent elements in 2001 to Amman to carry out sabotage operations. But the Jordanian authorities arrested the group members and were later released after mediation by the late Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri to King Abdullah II. The argument used by Hezbollah to justify sending a group to smuggle weapons and explosives into Jordan was that the ultimate goal was to infiltrate into the West Bank and not to carry out operations on Jordanian territory. The same sources also revealed that tension in the Jordanian-Iranian relationship and fear of an operation that would be carried out by Hezbollah were behind the Jordanian monarch’s failure to attend the Arab summit in Beirut in 2002, in which the Arab peace initiative was endorsed. The sources linked the Iranian attempts to carry out sabotage operations in Jordan to the Syrian situation. They said the past few years have seen several Iranian attempts to penetrate Jordanian security in order to ease domestic pressure on the Syrian regime. They cited the great efforts made by Iran to encourage the Arab Spring in Jordan. Through media affiliated to it, Iran has openly supported the Islamic groups that took to streets, this in the hope that any problems in Jordan will lessen the importance of the developments Syria witnesses. A senior Jordanian official said that his country has, for several years, clear evidence of Iranian support for the instigators to take to the streets in Jordan. Among the evidence is a copy of a check, of a large sum of money, received by a well-known Jordanian figure who moved from supporting the Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein to supporting the Islamic forces and those affiliated to Iran after the change that took place in Iraq in 2003. (33)

 

Third: Iran’s cells in Egypt and the Maghreb countries

Since its revolution in 1979, Iran has been creating an incubator to spread its doctrine in West and North Africa through a multi-pronged political, economic, cultural and religious strategy.

It is noteworthy that there is a small building in the north of Tehran where a unit of the office of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei operates. This unit bears the name Kutama.  And in this building there is the name of an area in Maghreb seen by the Shia historians as the oldest base for the spread of Shiism in North Africa historically that was inhabited by Abu Abdullah Al-Shi`i, a preacher of Ismailism. Despite the fact that they are not Ismailis, the staff in Kutama unit work hard to prepare plans under the guidance of the office of the Supreme Guide to spreading Jaafari Ithna-Asheri doctrine in the Maghreb. These plans include the moral and material support of a widespread Shiism network in the Maghreb and the intensification of missionary activity across Europe targeting the Maghreb communities in France, Britain and Germany. But it seems that the Kutama unit changed its plans, which focused on spreading Shiism in North Africa through Europe or the Arabian Gulf, and that the new plan will start from Egypt after exploring the possibility of working from Cairo, in light of the new changes in Egypt. (34)

Egypt

The open confrontation between Egypt and Hezbollah rose further after the Egyptian Attorney General announced that he was considering referring an indictment against Hassan Nasrallah on suspicion of activating terrorist cells in Egypt and inciting against the state. The intention is to try Nasrallah in an Egyptian court in absentia and thus making him a wanted subversive person if he is convicted, and Egypt will be able to demand his extradition or pursuing him by itself. If an indictment is brought up, this would be an exceptional step taken by an Arab country against the head of an organisation participating in the leadership of another country. The Egyptian authorities are continuously giving further details on the case of the terrorist and intelligence network used by Hezbollah in its territory. Al-Jarida newspaper quoted sources in Cairo as saying on Sunday April 13, 2009 that Nasrallah was not the only one to oversee the cells closely, but that the Iranians were involved in activating them. It is noteworthy that Egypt, like Saudi Arabia, is not at all satisfied with Iran’s reinforced status, and Arab responses to the case have been widespread, most of them strongly condemning Hezbollah “be insolent” to an Arab state. “The danger of bin Nasrallah [sounding like “bin Laden”] and his likes is that they are looking to overthrow governments and establish areas of unrest under Iran in our Arab territories, so that our states will become like Lebanon, where there is no fear of the regime or the state generally. The talk of an Egyptian concern about Hezbollah’s overthrow of the regime is a very exaggerated talk, but Egypt has long been tired of the organisations that try to play the role of states, be it Hamas, Hezbollah or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. If the Palestinians should be helped, Egypt will do so itself.  When there was a need, it knew well how to turn a blind eye to the smuggling of arms and other materials into the (Gaza) Strip or smuggling from other countries such as the Sudan. Egypt’s central interest is in its full control over the context of events without allowing any outside party to make it a source of launching terrorist operations. For Egypt, it is not only to protect sovereignty or dignity, but rather to touch national security,” wrote Tareq Al-Hamid, an editor of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. (35)

Activists circulated a leaked audio clip of Shiite leading figure Tareq Al-Nafis, speaking to a Shiite leader of Najaf province in Iraq, about how to spread the Shiite doctrine in Egypt and the money it requires, while Al-Nafis considered the call as not a disadvantage for him. During the conversation, the Shiite leader asked: “Is the situation of the Shiites in Egypt was better during the days of (former Egyptian president) Hosni Mubarak, or now?” Al-Nafis replied that there are better aspects now, and there are aspects that were better in the days of Mubarak, but the problem is that the current situation is unstable. The Shiite leader said to him: “Are $ 2000 a month enough for you to quit the job and devote yourself to spreading this thought?” Al-Nafis replied: “Yes.” (36)

Tunisia

The leading Islamic figures in Tunisia have not lost sight of the Shiite activity. While sheikh Rached El-Ghannouchi appears to many to be within the trend of the Muslim Brotherhood and is therefore close or among those working for Iran (he appeared for years on satellite channels funded by Tehran), the truth is that sheikh El-Ghannouchi is one of the fiercest enemies of the Iranian “Kutama” in North Africa. El-Ghannouchi pointed out that there is an abnormal rapprochement between the Iranian regime and the former Tunisian regime in the days of Ben Ali. He also warned that some symbols linked to the Shiite trend in Tunisia are regularly visiting Tehran. Moreover, there are confirmations that the Tunisian regime allows Shiite books into the country, especially in the context of book fairs, while prohibiting all writings linked to the Islamic moderation trend. However, some Islamic associations and legal figures have activities against Shiite infiltration in North Africa. A Tunisian lawyer has called on his country’s authorities to reject a request by some Shiitised individuals to the interior minister to authorise them form an association they called the Al-Mawadda Shiite Cultural Association. Lawyer Hassan Hassaneh justified his rejection by saying that the license for this association would pose a threat to Tunisia’s national security. (37)

On the other hand, elements from the political and intellectual class launched a campaign against bilateral cooperation and the opening of Tunisia to Iran for fear of spreading the “Safavid thought”. Some political parties close to Saudi Arabia have called for accountability of the tourism minister and the prime minister in the parliament to reveal the secrets of the tourism cooperation agreement between Tunisia and Iran. Concerns about the Shiite tide have intensified after the January 2011 revolution because of the Shiite communities in Tunisia in some southern parts moved from secrecy to publicity after the 2014 new Tunisian constitution stated the importance of respecting religious minorities. On the second anniversary of the revolution in January 2013, “Essahwa Tunisie” or Assahwa was the first Shia newspaper in Tunisia, a weekly independent comprehensive newspaper, with the slogan “Right is more worthy to be followed.” There are no accurate statistics on the number of Shiites in Tunisia, but the Shiitised among them consider their belonging to the Shiite thought steming from the Fatimid state, which ruled Tunisia and North Africa in the ninth century AD, which was adopting this doctrine. (38)

Algeria

It was noticeable in 2016 what appeared to be an Algerian concern about the Shiite expansion, when the head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Algeria warned of attempts to destabilise the unity of Algerian society. And the minister of Religious Affairs and Endowments of Algeria has said that there are trends trying to penetrate the Algerian society such as Ahmadiyya order and the Shiite doctrine, and he complained of the sectarian invasion in his country. (39)

The discovery of Shiite books and pamphlets in some mosques in Algiers under the title “Ad`iya wa Tawaf wa Sa`i” (Prayers, Circling the Kaaba and walking between Safa and Marwah hills), Persian books seeking to spread the Shiism among the worshipers, was a reason for the expulsion of the cultural attaché in Iran’s Embassy in Algeria, Amir Moussaoui. This was moved by France-based Algerian writer and rights activist Anwar Malek who confirmed that Moussaoui “went beyond his diplomatic mission and became a secret coordinator with Shiitised Algerians and organised several trips to Tehran and even Najaf,” asserting that “they met in Iran with Shiite clerics and elements of the Iranian intelligence apparatus and Revolutionary Guard,” which Malek considered a “making of a Shiite lobby and a recognised Shiite sect in Algeria”, seriously threatening Algerian national security. In the same context, the head of unauthorised Salafi Free Awakening party in Algeria, Abdel-Fattah Hamdash, revealed “the presence of more than 3,000 Shiites in Algeria spreading in several areas and led by a sheikh who is keen to organise the husseini gatherings”. Then the Algerian fears of this threat increased with the participation of a delegation of Algerian Shiites in the celebrations of Arba`een (annual commemoration of the killing of imam Al-Hussain, grandson of Prophet Muhammad) in 2014, raising the Algerian flag during these celebrations in the skies of Karbala, which confirms the extent of the trend in Algeria, especially in recent years. (40)

Recently, the phenomenon of Shiism in favour of Al-Wali Al-Faqih sponsored by Iran in Algeria has extended, amid disregard by the Algerian government, which has continued to strengthen relations with Tehran to the extent of cooperation at many levels, including economic, cultural and security. The Iranian embassies have been active in exporting the Khomeinist revolution through the cultural attaché working to form Shiite cells in Algeria, where they are funded, and visits are organised to some of their elements to Tehran and Qom. During these visits, they meet with Iranian intelligence staff and clerics, and there they are trained on a certain plan to spread Shiism among their fellow citizens. What these Shiitised persons do not know is that the Iranian intelligence services do not trust them, but rather assume that they are assigned a dual and counter mission or may rebel against them later, so they got them implicated in affairs with women whether through nikah mut`ah (temporary marriage) or otherwise, and they are filmed in their hotel rooms or in the apartments they are in which are always equipped with secret cameras of high quality and precision and sophisticated devices that record their movements and whispers; therefore we never heard that a Shiitised person visited Iran and then left Shiism or criticised Iran in the least situation. It is noteworthy that during the bloody war in Algeria in the 1990s, Iran tried to form Iranian militias by Shiitised Algerians, including the so-called Mahfouz Tajin, who was trained in the strongholds of Hezbollah in the southern suburb in Lebanon, who was promoted to the level of national emir of the so-called Armed Islamic Group (GIA, from French: Groupe Islamique Armé), the bloodiest organisation in Algeria. Iran also tried the same through groups of armed militants in other organisations such as the Islamic Front for Jihad in Algeria (FIDA, from French: Front Islamique du Djihad Armé), which specialised in the liquidation of intellectuals, media professionals and university cadres. Iran moved a number of them to Tehran and they were trained in IRGC barracks. There is a group convicted by the Algerian judiciary after they were detained and they confirmed in the investigation minutes and at their trial that they were trained in Iran. The aim of the focus on religious Shiism in that period is to create a large number of Shiitised persons, and this is the bet of the Iranian intelligence at the time of the interruption of diplomatic relations between Algeria and Tehran. But with the return of warm relations with the arrival of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to power, Shiism project became active and began to increase. In 2015, the number of Shiites exceeded 5,000 Shiitised persons in 40 states. This is according to security reports by bodies following up this file but without taking any concrete action against them, as when a report reaches the concerned authorities, they place it in the archive and avoid any move, as president Bouteflika rejects any action against Iran. He was betting a lot on strong ties with Tehran in defiance of some Gulf states where he was then a consultant in the years of voluntary exile he experienced after the departure of president Houari Boumedienne in December 1978, and also for other interests and considerations. (41)

Morocco

Perhaps Morocco has been the exceptional case concerning the official governmental confrontation to Shiite preaching in the Maghreb region. Once there were data confirming that there was an Iranian effort to spread Shiism among the poor in Morocco through financial appeasement, and among other classes through mixed marriages from male and female Moroccans, Moroccan authorities moved to close the Iranian school and cut ties with Iran. (42)

In Morocco, Sunni scholars stressed the need to beware of the seriousness and magnitude of the “Shiism movement” in their country. Abdel-Bari Zamzami, member of the Moroccan Religious Scholars, attributed the source of Shiism in Morocco to Europe, specifically Belgium, where thousands of Moroccans live, with absolute freedom for Shiite movement. Zamzami added that the Iranian Embassy offers its Moroccan agents who serve the Shiism agenda financial rewards, as well as to all Moroccans converted to Shiism, as well as large numbers of Moroccan students who go to Iran for study and provide them with financial grants to proceed with liking Shiism. (43)

The Kutama unit is active in northern Morocco, where it relies after the expulsion of Iranians, as usual, on their Iraqi agents belonging to the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). The activities focus on benefiting from affinity relationships between SCIRI affiliates and Moroccan families to spread the Shiite doctrine, but there are great difficulties facing them perhaps the most important are the Sufi and Salafi activities against them. After the work of the Kutama unit developed in northern Morocco, the Moroccan Parliament was angered by the Iranian unit spreading Shiism by luring the Moroccan poor being misled by the political propaganda of Hezbollah. So, the Parliament called on the Moroccan government to take serious steps to stop the work of the unit and the Iranian infiltration. Morroco’s Ministry of Foreign Affair and International Cooperation issued a decision to severe ties with Iran in 2009. The Moroccan decision came all of a sudden for the Iranians, and the Iranian response was confused, and the Moroccans presented to the Tunisian mediator sent by former Tunisian President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali a comprehensive report showing activities of the Kutama unit in the northern Morocco and in the region of Ketama, Sous and Tangier. (44)

Mauritania

A secret study published by the Mauritanian newspaper Al-Akhbar revealed that Mauritanian bodies were working with Iranian ones to restore what the study described as the “historic status” of the Shiites in Mauritania. The study provided advices on ways to restore this role, and recommended focusing on the northern areas of Mauritania as the center of wealth and power, with weak presence of Sunni scholars in them, where the schools and scholars are few, which qualify these areas to be the ideal area for Shiism. (45)

Fourth: Iran’s cells in the Horn of Africa and Sudan

Since the Iranian revolution, the Horn of Africa has been an important axis of Iran’s expansionist policy to extend its influence outside its territory. So that Iran considered it a broad and fruitful arena for its political and economic activities and an important strategic centre in its conflict with Western and Arab countries. (46)

On the official level, Iran has used its rapprochement with African countries to penetrate the Arab region, where it has strengthened its relations with East Africa, especially Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti. It has also been able to support the Houthi rebels in Yemen depending on the Eritrean ports, which has effective reflections on the security and stability of Gulf countries. Iran has depended in the implementation of these objectives on official institutions and charitable organisations operating independent from government control and following Supreme Leader Khamenei. (47)

Thus, Iran’s penetration of the Horn of Africa, which is based on political, security and religious motives, takes a number of methods that are somewhat similar to other countries. Some of them are diplomatic or so-called soft power, as we mentioned previously. Iran offers grants and loans for a number of these countries; exports them oil in low prices; develops infrastructure; establishes factories and oil refineries; helps in the agricultural and military sectors and develops nuclear energy. The war on piracy, which many countries joined under the pretext of protecting their interests at the end of the last decade of this century was the declared cause of Iran’s maritime presence in the region and quickly culminated in the establishment of the multi-task base at the Eritrean port of Massawa at Bab El-Mandeb. The reported information about it confirms that it is a complete military base including warships, submarines, drones and a number of IRGC soldiers, as Western and Israeli sources stress that: “Tehran transferred soldiers and military equipment and long-range ballistic missiles to the base by ships and submarines, noting that the Iranians are using small drones to protect the base. Iran admitted that it is trying hard to control the entrances of the Red Sea at the Strait of Aden off the Yemen’s coast, alleging that there are piracy operations, and threatening that its missiles could hit any target anywhere. Commander of IRGC, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, stressed that his forces intensify their presence in the Gulf of Aden, alleging that is because of “the existence of defensive necessities,” stressing that Iran’s missiles are very accurate and hit their targets anywhere. (48)

Eritrea

The tripartite relationship in the Horn of Africa (Iran with Eritrea and the Houthis) was growing secretly. These relations played the major role in fueling the conflict in Yemen, which was represented by the presence and support of the Houthis by Iran and the party that was providing them with support through Eritrea; by training and sending Iranian military equipment to Yemen. A report issued by the Texas-based Stratfor centere for security consultancy recently revealed the existence of what it described as an Eritrean-Iranian cooperation to support the Houthis. It pointed out that the Iranian forces in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden secure the smuggling of weapons from an Eritrean port in the Red Sea to the Houthis. (49)

Eritrea enjoyed a distinguished relationship with the Iranians and for a long time was seen as the gateway of the mullahs’ regime to the black continent. In 2008, the Eritrean president welcomed Iran establishing of bases in the Horn of Africa, followed by an agreement on oil cooperation between the two countries. It was soon developed to go beyond the limits of the economy to politics and military. A previous report by Stratfor talked about an Iranian military presence on the Eritrean coast, and in the strategic Dahlak archipelago. Also, one of the Wikileaks cables reported on February 12, 2010 that the Saudi ambassador in Eritrea was concerned about Iranian influence and that Iran had supplied the Eritrean navy with arms. It added that the Saudi ambassador said that the Houthi rebels were present in Eritrea in 2009. In March 2015, the Yemeni military attaché in Cairo accused Eritrea of supporting the Houthis in their attempts to overthrow the legitimate government and seize the power in Yemen. He spoke about detecting the storing and stockpiling of some various Iranian weapons and ammunition in some locations on the Eritrean coast in preparation to send them to Houthis, meaning that Eritrea was accused of becoming a backyard for the Iranians and their allies. But later on the same day that the Gulf forces were expelled from Djibouti, the Saudi monarch was making a phone call that would solve the previous dilemma easily. The King agreed with the Eritrean president on military and security cooperation that allows his country to establish military bases in Eritrea. This was the culmination of previous visits by Gulf delegations that discussed the same matter. (Riyadh solved the dispute with Djibouti later, while the UAE disconnection remained). Alexandre Mello and Michael Knights, researchers at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, tell about important details of Gulf plans to confront Iran in the Horn of Africa starting from Eritrea. The deep Assab port and Assab airport have been leased to the UAE for 30 years with the aim of establishing an Emirati military base’ and the Gulf states have pledged to increase fuel supplies to Eritrea, develop the capital’s airport and establish new infrastructure. The new Gulf-Eritrean alliance provided a lifeline for the ongoing operations in Yemen, with aircrafts went on their combat mission taking off from bases on Eritrean territory. The latter hosted trainings for Yemeni fighters loyal to president Hadi’s government. Sudanese combat brigades were also sent to fight in Yemen through the Assab port. And when president Hadi’s government faced danger in Aden, some spoke of its ministers taking refuge temporarily in the safe Gulf bases in Eritrea. (50)

Sudan

Since the beginning of its outreach to the Sudan, Iran has worked to spread Shiite doctrine as a priority for its strategy in this country through its religious institutions and cultural centres in Khartoum. The role of cultural attaché offices and centers is in the fields of arts and literature to let people know about the country, its culture, its heritage, and its tourist and cultural landmarks, but Iran changed the course of these centers from its declared diplomatic and cultural purpose. They have become a platform for the promotion of ideas and books related to Shiism. These centres worked hard all these years to deepen the relations with all bodies relevant to cultural aspects, such as newspapers, universities, public libraries, the Ministry of Guidance and Endowments and federations of women, youth and students, and organising celebrations of a Shiite nature like the celebration of birth of imam Reza (the eighth imam according Ithna-Asheri Shiites), and the birth of Fatima Al-Zahra (daughter of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) (may Allah be pleased with her), and the anniversary of Karbala (battle where Al-Hussain, grandson of Prophet Muhammad, was killed), and others. These centres were able to get customs exemptions, benefiting from the agreements concluded between the two countries, to get in books and audio and video tapes, and they spread and distributed large quantities of them to Sufis, students and religious institutes in Sudan. These centres, which were often run by clerics, contributed to a large number of Sudanese embracing the Shiite doctrine, after infiltrating among youth, students, intellectuals and followers of Sufi orders. Although there are no accurate official figures for the number of Shiites in Sudan, unofficial estimates indicate there are between 10,000 and 12,000 Shiites. And according to other unofficial estimates, the number of Shiites in Sudan was 13,000 in 2013. Some question this number and limit it to no more than 3,000 Sudanese Shiites. The spread of Shiite husseiniyyas in a number of areas in Sudan, especially in the capital Khartoum, is another indicator of the increase in the movement of Shiism, as their number recently is about 15 husseiniyyas, according to unofficial estimates. This is in addition to the Shiites controlling a number of mosques and prayers areas across the country. In order to strengthen cooperation ties with the Sudanese government, Iran provided military assistance and concluded a number of agreements with the Sudanese government. The heavy military cooperation between the two countries reached the signing of a military cooperation agreement in 2008 and the construction of an arms and ammunition factory in Sudan. This indicates Iranian exploitation of the dire need of the Sudanese government for arms in its war against armed movements in southern Sudan (before the separation), Darfur, the Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions. (51)

In Khartoum, there is an Iranian cultural center that is lively throughout the week. On specific days, it opens its doors to the public to participate in cultural activities that transform the place as if it is Imam Reza street in the Iranian city of Mashhad. Also, no one asked why the Sudanese turban has turned from white to black on the heads of many Sudanese over the past few years. (52)

Then the turning point in the relationship between the two countries came after Sudan expelled the Iranian cultural attaché and the closure of the Iranian cultural centres on the pretext that these centers are spreading Shiism among its citizens. The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that these centers transgressed the license granted to them and constitute a threat to “intellectual and social security” in Sudan. This took place after the Sudanese government realised that the Iranian presence in the country had become a real threat to the social fabric of the country as a result of efforts to spread the Shiite doctrine. Iran’s interference and its attempts to expand in the Arab countries, its support of the Houthis in Yemen and the storming of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabi’s embassy in Tehran and its consulate in the city of Mashhad have also provided an opportunity for the Sudanese government to sever its political ties with Iran. Despite the government’s recent stance on the Iranian presence and its closure of Iranian cultural centres, some bodies believe that its awakening was too late and not strong enough. These bodies accused the government of knowing the activities that were intended to spread the Shiite doctrine, however, it did not move in time to face them. (53)

Research results

  1. Tehran is trying hard through its militias to open a land route extending from Iran through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea. Tehran has not hidden its aim and intention of its military, political and security action aimed at the Arab countries in general, as some of its officials told about Iran’s expansionist goals. Perhaps the most explicit and transparent statement is the one by Ali Younesi, the adviser to president Hassan Rouhani, that “the entire Middle East region is a part of Iran. Today, the Iranian empire is visualised, with its capital Baghdad, and it is the center of our civilisation, culture and identity as it was in the past. Peoples neighbouring Iran are originally Iranians and were separated from the Iranian Empire. “
  2. Iran aims to complete its nuclear file, especially with facing international pressure and the withdrawal of the United States from the 5+1 agreement, by dispersing international efforts and working to raise regional differences and border disputes.
  3. Iran is cautiously waiting for the participation of the Gulf states in launching a military strike against Iran, and trying through its cells to prove its ability to reach the depth of these countries, including military and economic targets.
  4. Tehran seeks to consolidate its presence in the Gulf and impose its control over it with the aim of playing a major role in future security measures in the region and contending with Western influence, especially the American one.
  5. Iran presents itself as a model for the region, and aims to spread the principles of the Iranian revolution in the region, and considers itself responsible for members of the Shiite sect transcending national boundaries because it is the only Shiite model in the world, and seeks to appear in the leading role over the region countries.
  6. Arab countries should consider positively the components of geographical and economic factors (such as the large market base that initially permits large-scale production, labor availability, capital, energy), as well as social factors (such as common language, common culture, religion, values) and playing a positive role that achieves Arab unity at the level of application, so that Arab nationalism is raised, since these factors are supposed to be points of strength and rapprochement, not disaccord.
  7. Arab countries should abandon the neglect of the Shiites inside them, and consider them from the Arab national fabric, so as not to be exploited by Iran in its project, with the need for a unified Arab strategy, which would be formulated in accordance with the common Arab interest.
  8. There should be unity of visions among Arab countries towards crises in the region, as the absence of coordination among countries and unification of their positions is a major cause of Iranian intervention in the region.

 

 

Margins:

  1. The European Iraqi Freedom Association, International Committee in Search of Justice, Ad-Dour Al-Mokharreb Le-Failaq Al-Haras Al-Thawri Al-Irani fi Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (The Destructive Role of the IRGC in the Middle East), March 2017, p. 7
  2. The European Iraqi Freedom Association, International Committee in Search of Justice, Ad-Dour Al-Mokharreb Le-Failaq Al-Haras Al-Thawri Al-Irani fi Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (The Destructive Role of the IRGC in the Middle East), March 2017, p. 10
  3. Mokhtarat Iraniyah (Iranian Selections), Issue 182, February 2016, Iran: Al-Shaab wa Ad-Dawla, Tarikh men Al-Ghomod (Iran: People and State, History of Ambiguity), p. 68
  4. Afaq Arabiya magazine, issue 1, March 2017, Iran wa Al-Amn Al-Qawmi Al-Arabi, (Iran and Arab National Security) 1979-2016, p. 40
  5. Araa.sa, Khalaya Na’emah fe Al-Khaleej Al-Arabi .. Lemadha At-Tajahul? (Sleeper Cells in the Arabian Gulf .. Why to Ignore?)

http://www.araa.sa

  1. Bahrainikhaliji.wordpress.com, Al-Khalaya Na’emah fe Al-Khaleej Al-Arabi (Sleeper Cells in the Arabian Gulf), March 28, 2013

https://bahrainikhaliji.wordpress.com

  1. Asharq Al-Awsat, July 29, 2017

https://aawsat.com

  1. Mokhtarat Iraniyah (Iranian Selections), Issue 13, August 2001, Al-Etefaq Al-Amni Al-Irani Al-Saudi Khotwah Naw`iyah `ala Tareq Al-Taqarub (Iranian-Saudi Security Agreement Is a Qualitative Step on the Path of Rapprochement), p. 53
  2. Alarabiya.net, September 6, 2015, Asaleeb Iran wa Ajhezateha Al-Amniyah Betta`ati Ma`a Dewal Al-Khaleej (Methods of Tehran and Its Intelligence Agencies to Deal with the Gulf States)

https://www.alarabiya.net/ar/iran/2015/09/06

  1. Elfagr.com, July 23, 2017

https://www.elfagr.com/2682822

  1. Elfagr.com, July 23, 2017

https://www.elfagr.com/2682822

  1. Youm7.com, December 27, 2017

https://www.youm7.com

  1. Albayan.ae, October 31, 2017, Iran .. Tarikh men At-Tajasus wa At-Ta’amor `ala Al-Kuwait (Iran: History of espionage and conspiracy against Kuwait)

https://www.albayan.ae

  1. Asharq Al-Awsat, July 29, 2017

https://aawsat.com

  1. Albayan.ae, October 31, 2017, Iran .. Tarikh men At-Tajasus wa At-Ta’amor `ala Al-Kuwait (Iran: History of espionage and conspiracy against Kuwait)

https://www.albayan.ae

  1. Araa.sa, Khalaya Na’emah fe Al-Khaleej Al-Arabi .. Lemadha At-Tajahul? (Sleeper Cells in the Arabian Gulf .. Why to Ignore?)

http://www.araa.sa

  1. Elfagr.com, July 23, 2017

https://www.elfagr.com/2682822

  1. As-Siysah Al-Kharjiyah Al-Iraniyah wa Atharoha `ala Amn Al-Khalij Al-`Arabi (Iran’s Foreign Policy and its Impact on the Arab Gulf Security (1991-2012)), Fouad Atef Al-Abbadi, Master’s Thesis, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Middle East University, 2012, p. 124
  2. Elfagr.com, July 23, 2017

https://www.elfagr.com/2682822

  1. Mapnews.com, December 7, 2016

http://www.mapnews.com/2020633

  1. Abdullah Al-Ghailani, Oman wa `Asefat Al-Hazm, Al-Jozor Al-Tarikhiyah wa Al-Dalalat Al-Estratijiyah (Oman and Operation Decisive Storm, Historical Roots and Strategic Significance), conference of Gulf and Strategic Directions After the Operation Decisive Storm, Istanbul, June 11-12, 2015.
  2. Watheq Al-Sadoon, At-tawajuhat Al-Mo`aserah les-Siyasah Al-Kharejiyah Al-`Omaniyah (Contemporary Trends in Omani Foreign Policy), Regional Studies Center, University of Mosul, September 22, 2012

http://regionalstudiescenter.uomosul.edu.iq/news_details.php? details=

  1. Mapnews.com, December 7, 2016

http://www.mapnews.com/2020633

  1. Ba`d Al-Thawra Al-Sha`biya Al-Yamaniyah, Iran wa Al-Houthiyoun, Maraje` wa Mawaje` (After the Yemeni People’s Revolution, Iran and the Houthis, Authorities and Pains): Ahmed Amin Al-Shuja, Riyadh, Al-Bayan, 1434 A.H.
  2. Al-Arab newspaper, Rafd Al-Helal Al-Shi`i Wara’ Mokhatat Irani Lestehdaf Al-Ordon (Rejection of the Shiite Crescent Is Behind an Iranian Plan to Target Jordan), Year 38, Issue 9971, July 7, 2015.
  3. Albiladpress.com, December 10, 2018, Al-general Petraeus: Khalaya Iraniyah tas`a Lelmonafasah `ala Al-Soltah fi Al-`eraq Ba`da Daesh (General Petraeus: Iranian Cells Seeking to Compete for Power in Iraq After “ISIS”

http://www.albiladpress.com/newspaper/3344/466618.html

  1. Al-Estratijiyah Al-Eqlimiyah Leko;en men Turkiya wa Iran Nahwa Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (Regional Strategy of Both Turkey and Iran Toward the Middle East) 2002-2013, Tayel Yusuf Abdullah Al-Adwan, Master’s Thesis, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Middle East University, p. 138
  2. Thebaghdadpost.com, January 21, 2017, Khalaya Al-Fitnah wa Ad-Damar: 36 Mo’sasatan Mokhabaratytan Iraniah Qatherah Ta`bath bel-Iraq wa Tufatetuh (Cells of Sedition and Destruction: 36 Dirty Iranian Intelligence Institutions Tempering with Iraq and Fragmentizing It)

https://www.thebaghdadpost.com/ar/Story/14163

  1. The Brookings Institution, March 30, 2018, Kaifa Estakhdamat Iran Namothag Hezbollah Lelhaymanah `ala Al`eraq wa Soriyah (How Iran Used the Hezbollah Model to Dominate Iraq and Syria)

https://www.brookings.edu/ar/opinions

  1. Albayan.ae, November 5, 2017, Adhru` Al-Erhab Al-Irani ta`bath Besteqrar Al-Ordon (Arms of Iranian Terrorism Tampering with Jordan Stability)

https://www.albayan.ae/one-world/arabs/2017-11-05-1.3090227

  1. Al-Arab newspaper, Rafd Al-Helal Al-Shi`i Wara’ Mokhatat Irani Lestehdaf Al-Ordon (Rejection of the Shiite Crescent Is Behind an Iranian Plan to Target Jordan), Year 38, Issue 9971, July 7, 2015.
  2. akhbaralaan.net, July 17, 2014, Al-Khalaya Al-Iiraniyah An-Na’emah fi Al-Ordon.. Sena`ah Iiraniyah Tontej Ad-Damar Faqat (Iranian Sleeper Cells in Jordan .. An Iranian Industry Producing Destruction Only)

https://www.akhbaralaan.net/news/arab-world/2014/7/17/

  1. Al-Arab newspaper, Rafd Al-Helal Al-Shi`i Wara’ Mokhatat Irani Lestehdaf Al-Ordon (Rejection of the Shiite Crescent Is Behind an Iranian Plan to Target Jordan), Year 38, Issue 9971, July 7, 2015.
  2. Kutama, Thera` Al-Tashayu` Al-Irani fi Al-Maghreb Al-Arabi (Kutama, arm of Iranian Shiism in Maghreb), September 8, 2011

https://middle-east-online.com

  1. Alghad.com, Misr Takshef Wajh Iran (Egypt Uncover Iran’s Face), April 4, 2009

http://www.alghad.com/articles/688356

  1. Mobtada.com, September 25, 2016, A;-Madd Al-Shi`I .. Tafaseel Mokhatat Iran Al-Serri fi Misr wa Dewal Shamal Afriqiya (Iranian Tide .. Details of Iran’s Secret Plan in Egypt and North Africa Countries

https://www.mobtada.com/details/513714

  1. Kutama, Thera` Al-Tashayu` Al-Irani fi Al-Maghreb Al-Arabi (Kutama, arm of Iranian Shiism in Maghreb), September 8, 2011

https://middle-east-online.com

  1. Gulf House Studies and Publishing, March 14, 2016, Iran fe Dewal Al-Maghreb Al-Arabi: At-Tareequ Shebhu Salekah (Iran in the Maghreb: The Road Is Almost Passable)

https://gulfhouse.org/posts/1416

  1. Afaq Arabiya magazine, issue 1, March 2017, Iran wa Al-Amn Al-Qawmi Al-Arabi, (Iran and Arab National Security) 1979-2016, p. 40
  2. Gulf House Studies and Publishing, March 14, 2016, Iran fe Dewal Al-Maghreb Al-Arabi: At-Tareequ Shebhu Salekah (Iran in the Maghreb: The Road Is Almost Passable)
  1. Alkhaleejonline.net, Iran Tastahdef Al-Amn Al-Qawmi Al-Jaza’eri (Iran targets Algerian National Security)

http://alkhaleejonline.net

  1. Kutama, Thera` Al-Tashayu` Al-Irani fi Al-Maghreb Al-Arabi (Kutama, arm of Iranian Shiism in Maghreb), September 8, 2011

https://middle-east-online.com

  1. Mobtada.com, September 25, 2016, A;-Madd Al-Shi`I .. Tafaseel Mokhatat Iran Al-Serri fi Misr wa Dewal Shamal Afriqiya (Iranian Tide .. Details of Iran’s Secret Plan in Egypt and North Africa Countries

https://www.mobtada.com/details/513714

  1. Kutama, Thera` Al-Tashayu` Al-Irani fi Al-Maghreb Al-Arabi (Kutama, arm of Iranian Shiism in Maghreb), September 8, 2011

https://middle-east-online.com

  1. Mobtada.com, September 25, 2016, A;-Madd Al-Shi`I .. Tafaseel Mokhatat Iran Al-Serri fi Misr wa Dewal Shamal Afriqiya (Iranian Tide .. Details of Iran’s Secret Plan in Egypt and North Africa Countries

https://www.mobtada.com/details/513714

  1. Al-Mezmaah Studies & Research Center, February 16, 2017, At-Taghalghul Al-Irani fi Mentaqat Al-Qarn Al-Afriqi (Iranian Infiltration in the Horn of Africa Region), Part 1

http://almezmaah.com

  1. Mokhtarat Iraniyah (Iranian Selections), Issue 182, February 2016, Iran: Al-Shaab wa Ad-Dawla, Tarikh men Al-Ghomod (Iran: People and State, History of Ambiguity), p.6
  2. Al-Bayan magazine, June 21, 2014, Ashi`ah fi Al-Qarn Al-Afriqi wa Eritriya (Shiities in the Horn of Africa and Eretria)

http://www.albayan.co.uk

  1. Al-Bayan magazine, June 21, 2014, Ashi`ah fi Al-Qarn Al-Afriqi wa Eritriya (Shiities in the Horn of Africa and Eretria)

http://www.albayan.co.uk

  1. Ida2at.com, December 5, 2016, Kaifa Qafazat Eritriya men Safinat Iran Letalhaqa Berakb El-Khaleej (How Eretria Jumped out of Iran’s Ship to Catch up with the Gulf)

https://www.ida2at.com

  1. Assakina.com, September 29, 2016

https://www.assakina.com/news/news1/92966

  1. Skynewsarabia.com, September 2, 2014, Assudan wa Iran `endama Tasoud Al`amamah (Sudan and Iran, When the Turban Prevails)

https://www.skynewsarabia.com/blog/685360

  1. Assakina.com, September 29, 2016

https://www.assakina.com/news/news1/92966

References:

  • The European Iraqi Freedom Association, International Committee in Search of Justice,
  • Mokhtarat Iraniyah
  • Afaq Arabiya magazine
  • As-Siysah Al-Kharjiyah Al-Iraniyah wa Atharoha `ala Amn Al-Khalij Al-`Arabi (Iran’s Foreign Policy and its Impact on the Arab Gulf Security (1991-2012)), Fouad Atef Al-Abbadi, Master’s Thesis, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Middle East University, 2012.
  • Abdullah Al-Ghailani, Oman wa `Asefat Al-Hazm, Al-Jozor Al-Tarikhiyah wa Al-Dalalat Al-Estratijiyah (Oman and Operation Decisive Storm, Historical Roots and Strategic Significance), conference of Gulf and Strategic Directions After the Operation Decisive Storm, Istanbul, June 11-12, 2015.
  • Ba`d Al-Thawra Al-Sha`biya Al-Yamaniyah, Iran wa Al-Houthiyoun, Maraje` wa Mawaje` (After the Yemeni People’s Revolution, Iran and the Houthis, Authorities and Pains): Ahmed Amin Al-Shuja, Riyadh, Al-Bayan, 1434 A.H.
  • Al-Arab newspaper
  • Al-Estratijiyah Al-Eqlimiyah Leko;en men Turkiya wa Iran Nahwa Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (Regional Strategy of Both Turkey and Iran Toward the Middle East) 2002-2013, Tayel Yusuf Abdullah Al-Adwan, Master’s Thesis, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Middle East University.

 

Websites:

  • http://www.araa.sa
  • https://bahrainikhaliji.wordpress.com
  • https://aawsat.com
  • https://www.alarabiya.net/ar/iran/2015/09/06
  • https://www.elfagr.com/2682822
  • https://www.youm7.com
  • http://regionalstudiescenter.uomosul.edu.iq/news_details.php? details
  • http://www.mapnews.com/2020633
  • http://www.albiladpress.com/newspaper/3344/466618.html
  • https://www.thebaghdadpost.com/ar/Story/14163
  • https://www.brookings.edu/ar/opinions
  • https://www.albayan.ae/one-world/arabs/2017-11-05-1.3090227
  • https://www.akhbaralaan.net/news/arab-world/2014/7/17/
  • https://middle-east-online.com
  • http://www.alghad.com/articles/688356
  • https://gulfhouse.org/posts/1416/
  • http://alkhaleejonline.net
  • https://www.mobtada.com/details/513714
  • http://almezmaah.com
  • http://www.albayan.co.uk
  • https://www.ida2at.com
  • https://www.skynewsarabia.com/blog/685360
  • https://www.assakina.com/news/news1/92966

 

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