Hezbollah & Iran

In a speech on Tuesday the 13th, Hezbollah leader  Nasrallah said that the Party will continue the border offensive until at least the Gaza massacre stops. The war in Gaza however, is far from over. And Nasrallah warned that even were a ceasefire to be reached in Gaza, “should the enemy perform any action, we will return to operating according to the rules and formulas that existed before. The purpose of the resistance is to deter the enemy, and we will react accordingly”.

Israel’s Defence Secretary Gallant has underlined that said that contrary to international consensus expectations, he too expects the war in Lebanon to continue. Nonetheless, with three military divisions rather than the usual one now deployed in the north of Israel, the IDF has more forces poised for action on the northern border than it has preparing for an incursion into Rafah – at this point.

The qualitatively different Hezbollah’s strike on Safed on Israel’s northern regional command HQ on Wednesday is being treating in Israel as the gravest attack since the start of the war, with Ben Gvir calling it a “declaration of war”. The ‘Safed Strike’ deep into the Galilee very likely was intended to signal that Hezbollah is not about to capitulate to western demands that it provide Israel with a ceasefire that is intended to facilitate evacuated Israelis to return to their homes in the north. As Nasrallah confirmed in a scathing attack on those external (Western) mediators who serve only as Israel’s lawyers, and neglect to address the massacres in Gaza:

“It is easier to move the Litani River forward to the borders, than to push back Hezbollah fighters from the borders; to behind the Litani River … They want us to pay a price without Israel committing to a thing”.

In these circumstances, Nasrallah clarified that residents of northern Israel will not return to their homes – warning that even more Israelis risk being displaced: “‘Israel’ must prepare shelters, basements, hotels and schools to house two million settlers, who will be evacuated from northern Palestine, [were Israel to expand the war zone].”

Nasrallah outlined what is clearly the agreed Axis of resistance’s overarching strategic plan. (There has been a flurry of meetings between senior Axis principals over the last week, across the region, for which Nasrallah is speaking): “We are committed to fighting Israel until it is off the map. A strong Israel is dangerous to Lebanon; but a deterred Israel, defeated and exhausted, is less of a danger to Lebanon”.

“The national interest of Lebanon, the Palestinians, and the Arab world is that Israel leaves this battle defeated: Therefore, we are committed to Israel’s defeat”.

Put bluntly, the Axis has its vision of the conflict’s outcome. And it is a “deterred, defeated and exhausted” Israeli State. By implication, it is an Israel that has relinquished the Zionist project – one that is reconciled to the notion of living as Jews between the River and the Sea – albeit with rights no different to others living there (i.e. Palestinians).

Over the past month, the conflict has intensified on Israel’s northern borders. Although Israel attacks Lebanon with missiles, rockets and drones, these attacks are having zero effects on the military capability of Hezbollah, other than the deaths and wounding of civilians and Hezbollah soldiers. The resistance in Lebanon includes other Palestinian groups who also launch attacks into Israel.

 To date, the resistance has severely crippled Israel’s electronic surveillance and spying capabilities, such that Israel is blind in the north. In addition, continuous daily attacks on Israeli bases, command posts, troop gatherings and strikes on other strategic military targets are occurring on a daily basis.

Israel’s losses in the north are more than 10,000. This includes about 25 % killed, and the balance as wounded-some so severely that they are not fit to return to the battlefield. For Israel, taking care of the wounded puts an even larger strain on its medical infrastructure, personnel and services that a dead soldier has on the infrastructure of Israel. Israel has run out of hospital beds.

 Besides this, Hezbollah is now striking deeper into Israel. As a result, more civilians have to be evacuated, but to where? Israel has run out of hotel rooms. The Israeli government has no answer to this but bluffs and threatens. Its military is a sick joke. Poorly trained and motivated, it stands no chance against Hezbollah and the resistance in Lebanon.

Since mid-February, Hezbollah has been increasing its volume of attacks, using heavy Burhan missiles, and smart bombs, and so on. On some days, Hezbollah launches more than 100 missiles a day. Israel’s Iron Dome system is unable to intercept all of these, as many get through and hit their targets. Even some Iron Dome systems have been destroyed by Hezbollah. Overall, Israel’s military infrastructure, equipment, capability and manpower is taking losses on a daily basis. And it is unable to replace these on a timely basis. Put bluntly, the Axis of Resistance has its vision of the conflict’s outcome. And it is a “deterred, defeated and exhausted” Israeli State.

Western Intel Infiltrates Lebanon

Among Middle East countries, few face the brunt of foreign intelligence meddling as Lebanon does. Its sovereignty is routinely disregarded by intelligence services from abroad, which operate within its borders with brazen impunity. In some cases, foreign militaries have even sought unrestricted access to the country. These clandestine activities not only violate Lebanese law but also undermine its national security. The recent incursion of Dutch Special Forces into Beirut’s southern suburb, a stronghold of Hezbollah, is the latest such incident. Under the guise of evacuating Dutch nationals, these foreign militants were armed with military-grade weapons, ammunition, and equipment without coordination with Lebanese authorities, demonstrating a level of freedom not permitted even in their own country.

Last week, the Beirut Military Court convicted Russian national Yuri Rinatovich Chaykin of espionage, sentencing him to eight years behind bars for spying on behalf of Israel. Chaykin’s expertise in lock picking led him to make an attempted breach into a secret facility belonging to Hezbollah, only to be thwarted by surveillance cameras. His arrest at Beirut Airport while trying to leave the country unveiled a web of espionage activities, including the collection of sensitive intelligence and reconnaissance missions conducted on behalf of Israel. During his interrogation, Chaykin admitted that he worked for Israeli intelligence and that he repeatedly visited Lebanon with his wife and child, whom he used as a cover for his activities.  Chaykin’s conviction marks a notable precedent, as Lebanon has long been considered a playground for foreign intelligence services seeking to gather crucial information about Hezbollah. Often entering the country as tourists, journalists, or diplomats, these operatives typically enjoy diplomatic immunity and are shielded from accountability by their respective governments, evading significant consequences for their actions. Among these is an Italian ‘tourist’ recruited by Israeli intelligence. His first task was to photograph an obituary paper hanging on the wall of a church in the predominantly Christian Jounieh area, east of Beirut. But the ‘tourist’s’ inquiries about his arms dealer contact aroused suspicions in the taxi driver, who decided to alert Hezbollah-affiliated security personnel. The Italian spy was swiftly apprehended, but the Lebanese military judiciary, under pressure from the Italian embassy, handed a lenient sentence to the spy.

On 2 March, another spy was caught; this time a Spaniard. Upon being transferred to the Lebanese General Security Service, the Spaniard claimed he was lost and had been trying to send the pictures to his embassy colleagues to arrange a pickup. Despite possessing a diplomatic passport, he refused to grant investigators access to his phone. However, during the interrogation, it was discovered that his phone contained an advanced program preventing access to the stored data.  High-level officials from the Spanish embassy then intervened to win his release. It was later discovered that the man possessed a diplomatic passport. Then, a day later, Hezbollah security forces arrested six armed Dutchmen in the Bir al-Abd area of Beirut’s southern suburb. It was discovered that the Dutchmen were Special Forces and were allegedly in the midst of a security operation simulating the evacuation of Dutch citizens and diplomats – in a Hezbollah-controlled area. Hezbollah interrogated the six foreign militants for 24 hours before transferring custody the next day to Lebanese Army Intelligence officers. During their questioning, the men admitted to being Dutch ‘soldiers’ operating under orders from their Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Despite receiving this information about unlawful activities conducted on Lebanese territory by armed foreigners, a Lebanese military judge released the Dutchmen that same day. Had it not been for the insistence of Army Intelligence officers on obtaining their statements, the militants likely would have spent a mere ten hours under interrogation. The arrests of the Dutch and Spanish nationals came as part of a program of additional measures initiated by Hezbollah security officials in response to increased efforts by Israeli and other foreign intelligence agencies to collect information needed to assassinate Hezbollah cadres.

Since the outbreak of the war with Israel on 8 October, the embassies of several western countries, including Britain and Canada, have brought in special forces, ammunition, and advanced equipment under the pretext of evacuating their diplomats and nationals if the situation deteriorates.

 Also, in November 2023, foreign military cargo flights, carrying equipment for use against Hezbollah, were landing at the Beirut and Hamat airports. Between the 14 and 20 November, nine planes from various NATO countries were recorded landing at Beirut and Hamat airports, including several flying from Tel Aviv.

The aim of western Special Forces and intelligence agents sneaking into Lebanon is to find a way to assassinate key Hezbollah leaders with the aim to weaken it. But, most such efforts fail.  Such complacency only serves to embolden illegal foreign military missions that flout Lebanese law – and sovereignty – with impunity.

On 5 January, Lebanese military sources saying that British intelligence services are using dozens of watchtowers on the Lebanese–Syrian border – which the UK helped establish during the Syrian war – to collect information about cross-border weapons transfers to the Lebanese resistance.

The British were providing Lebanese soldiers in the watchtowers with photographs of Syrian, Iranian, and Russian weapons suspected of being transported into Lebanon so that they could identify and seize them. Earlier this year Lebanese Army Intelligence refused to grant a former British officer, now part of a CNN team, an entry permit to southern Lebanon on suspicion of collecting information about the military activities of Hezbollah and the Hamas movement. The newspaper alleges that Officer “Wayne G” had previously been part of the British military team charged with training the four land border regiments of the Lebanese Army before moving to Ukraine as part of a CNN-affiliated unit where he worked closely alongside Ukrainian forces.  After the events of 7 October, “Wayne G” joined the CNN team in Beirut. Al Akhbar further noted that the former British officer had also tried to obtain a permit to enter southern Lebanon through the BBC team in Beirut.

The absence of robust, official Lebanese measures and judicial rulings that would significantly deter espionage and military activity of individuals recruited by Israel, whether local or foreign, except in rare instances, leaves Lebanon vulnerable to multi-source intelligence breaches targeting the nation’s resistance. 

These ramifications extend beyond Hezbollah: British and other foreign intelligence agencies have spent years infiltrating Lebanon’s various intelligence, security, and telecommunications apparatus, posing a threat to the country’s national security and endangering the lives of its citizens. This included an as-yet-failed effort to pressure Beirut into allowing armed British soldiers total, unrestricted freedom of movement within Lebanon, along with immunity from arrest and prosecution for committing any crime.

Cyber Warfare

Recently, there has been a flurry of reports detailing Israel’s capabilities in surveillance and tracking of mobile devices in connection to Tel Aviv’s military aggression against southern Lebanon. These covert operations, which often involve targeted assassinations by drones or warplanes, were executed by exploiting the presence of mobile phones – both smartphones and regular devices – among Lebanese resistance fighters while engaged in cross-border operations in support of the Palestinian resistance the day after Al-Aqsa Flood was launched. 

Israeli intelligence uses the data from these devices, including GPS-enabled smartwatches, to pinpoint the locations of targets and to track fighters’ movements. Additionally, there have been reports about Israel exploiting the devices owned by friends and families of resistance fighters, who may not be fully aware of the risks posed by their technology usage. This lack of awareness opens up avenues for Israeli intelligence to gather information through electronic means, such as smart TVs connected to the internet or other electronic devices that transmit data. This vulnerability was recognized by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, who in a speech on 13 February urged his partisans in the south to “throw” away smartphones, which he described as “spy device[s].” Israel is known to employ a range of tactics, including the creation of fake online personas, to gather personal and metadata about the fighters. This information, combined with advanced technological systems and artificial intelligence, aids in identifying and targeting individuals.

To counteract Israeli surveillance, the Lebanese resistance has been active in dismantling radar and spy systems deployed by the Israeli military along the Lebanese–Palestinian border throughout its engagement in the region-wide war. 

However, in response, Israel has turned to utilizing cameras placed in homes, neighborhoods, and streets, often by penetrating existing surveillance networks. In an effort to thwart these tactics, Hezbollah has urged residents of border towns in southern Lebanon to disable surveillance cameras in their homes and shops.

This is in addition to the suspicious calls from individuals claiming to represent official or private associations and institutions, seeking information about family members, or inquiring about specific individuals affiliated with the resistance. Several homes have faced Israeli shelling following such calls,

The prowess of Israel’s electronic and technological arsenal is widely acknowledged, positioning it as one of the global leaders in the espionage technology industry. The occupation state’s 8200 intelligence unit, often likened to global technological intelligence agencies, has cemented Tel Aviv’s position in the digital espionage and surveillance community. 

Over the past few years, international leaks and spyware scandals have revealed the existence of highly capable Israeli espionage systems, ranging from open-source intelligence (OSINT) to human intelligence (HUMINT), all seamlessly integrated with cutting-edge artificial intelligence. Among the most notorious electronic espionage programs is “Pegasus,” aptly named the “winged horse” of surveillance.  The software is surreptitiously introduced on people’s mobile phones. Once Pegasus is on the device, the client is able to turn it into a powerful surveillance tool by gaining complete access to its camera, calls, media, microphone, email, text messages, and other functions, enabling surveillance of the person targeted and their contacts. Of particular concern is Pegasus’ ability to eavesdrop on WhatsApp calls, exploiting users’ assumption of absolute security. Once the spyware is downloaded to the device, the “operating hacker” can turn it into a comprehensive monitoring tool, obtaining full access to its contents through the camera, photos, videos, microphone, emails, text messages, and even encrypted materials.

Lebanon has been implicated in such surveillance efforts, If Israel can exploit smart cameras in southern Lebanon by penetrating them through the internet, hacking mobile phones seems well within its capabilities, as demonstrated by its hacking of French President  Macron’s device and those of other high-profile global elites, journalists, and human rights activists. The modern battlefield extends far beyond conventional warfare, delving into the realm of data and information acquisition, particularly from electronic and technological sources. This clandestine aspect of warfare is pivotal in shaping strategic and tactical decisions for military and political leaders alike, providing crucial insights into adversaries’ strengths, weaknesses, and objectives. Every tidbit of information, no matter how seemingly insignificant, contributes to the formation of a bank of targets, aiding in the elimination of the opponent’s human and military pillars, resources, and other strategic assets. As with most facets of contemporary society, the utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) in espionage has had a transformative impact and revolutionized the speed and accuracy of target identification and tracking. 

Cutting-edge AI algorithms sift through vast amounts of data generated by electromagnetic signals, social media platforms, and electronic devices, enabling rapid analysis and decision-making. Israel’s intelligence agencies, such as the Shin Bet, have embraced AI technology to counter significant threats and enhance their operational capabilities. Yet, with technological advancements come increased cyber security risks. Reports indicate a surge in hacking and espionage attacks, particularly in the Middle East

As the Axis of Resistance has often repeated, this war is being fought on multiple fronts – not just in the physical realm but prominently in the online realm of propaganda. Redressing the imbalance of power in the information war, however, is no easy task. The battle of words and ideas is an essential one for Palestinian resistance movements and pro-Palestine voices to fight. The opportunity to completely flip the narrative – now that Israel has revealed Zionism’s ugliest face in Gaza – has fully arrived, and the myth of Israeli victimhood must be put to rest forever.

 Financial Pressure on Lebanon

 For the past 18 years, since the 2006 defeat of Israel by Hezbollah, and especially after the regime-change operations that began in Syria in 2011, pressure on Lebanon has increased.

In 2005, former Lebanese PM and businessman Rafik Harriri was assassinated in a car bomb. The culprits were the Mossad, the CIA or British Intelligence. Since then, these agencies along with French Intelligence have been creating all sorts of problems for Lebanon and Hezbollah.  Then came the August 2020 Beirut port blast, killing 200 and injuring 6,500. It also destroyed a large part of the port.

The IMF is a Rothschild institution. The Rothschilds have squeezed Lebanon financially, working through their corrupt comprador class in Lebanon to destroy the economy through financial sanctions, blockades and inflation. Thereafter, additional pressure on the economy came through a lower energy-intensity and food shortages. The overall aim was to pit the Muslim, Druze, Christian and Lebanese population against Hezbollah. Although immense pressure was placed on the population, Hezbollah’s popularity and prestige has increased, as most realize that Hezbollah is keeping the wolves and hyenas at bay.

 Even better, is the support, in recent days, of the Lebanese government itself. Till the end of January, the government was neutral. Since the Axis of Resistance started Phase 2 in mid-February, Israel has been bombing deeper into Lebanon. These attacks have now brought the Lebanese government firmly behind Hezbollah. Although Israel has increased its build-up on the Lebanese border over the past month, it’s clear that Israel will suffer a conclusive defeat if it decides to invade Lebanon again, this time on a far bigger scale than the defeat they suffered in 2006. This happened to coincide with a new video claiming to show a column of Israeli tanks and self-propelled howitzers heading toward the northern border with Lebanon. As well as claims appearing today that Hezbollah has earlier thwarted some kind of IDF cross-border assault attempt—which, if true, would make it the first such direct escalatory clash: However, there remains good reason to believe that the hardline factions do fully intend to carry out the invasion no matter what, but it’s not certain their side will win the power struggle as there are immense pressures from the U.S. and international community to stop the war.

The Axis of Asymmetry is in full swing. These are the state and non-state actors employing asymmetrical moves on the global chessboard to sideline the US-led western rules-based order. And its vanguard is the Yemeni resistance movement Ansarallah. Ansarallah is absolutely relentless. They have downed a $30 million MQ-9 Reaper drone with just a $10k indigenous missile. They are the first in the Global South ever to use anti-ship ballistic missiles against Israel-bound and/or – protecting commercial and US Navy ships. For all practical purposes, Ansarallah is at war with no less than the US Navy. Ansarallah has captured one of the US Navy’s ultra-sophisticated autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), the $1.3 million Remus 600, a torpedo-shaped underwater drone able to carry a massive payload of sensors. The heart of the matter remains in the facts on the ground. 

Yemen’s fight for “our people” in Gaza is a matter of humanistic, moral, and religious solidarity – these are foundational tenets of the rising eastern “civilizational” powers, both domestically and in international affairs. This convergence of principles has now created a direct link – extrapolating to the moral and spiritual spheres – between the Axis of Resistance in West Asia and the Slavic Axis of Resistance in Donbass. 

In contrast, the job of the Axis of Resistance in West Asia has not even started. It’s fair to argue that its strength and full sovereign involvement have not been deployed yet (think Hezbollah and Iran). 

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, with his proverbial subtlety, has hinted there’s, in fact, nothing to negotiate on Palestine. And if there would be a return to any borders, these would be the 1948 borders. The Axis of Resistance understands that the whole Zionist Project is unlawful and immoral. But the question remains how to throw it, in practice, into the dustbin of History?

So the questions posed by the overwhelming majority of the Global South may be: Who else, apart from Ansarallah, Hezbollah, Hashd al-Shaabi, will join the Axis of Asymmetry in the fight for Palestine? Who would be willing to come to the Holy Land and die? After all, in Donbass, it’s only Russians who are dying for historically Russian lands. And that brings us to the way towards the endgame: only a Middle East Special Military Operation (SMO), to the bitter end, will settle the Palestinian tragedy.

The Iraq Front

Against the backdrop of the widening, US-backed and armed Israeli war on Gaza, the US airstrikes against Iraq and Syria were meant to deliver a strong message of deterrence to Iran’s allies in the Axis of Resistance, who are targeting US military interests in the region,  in response to the carnage in Gaza. 

But the strikes have instead served mainly to embarrass the Iraqi government and its domestic allies, prompting a reevaluation of the country’s relationship with Washington and reviving calls for an end to the US military presence in Iraq. 

Despite a steady stream of US threats and intimidation tactics employed to deter the Iraqi resistance since late last year, these factions have incrementally increased and expanded their engagement in the region-wide war, driven by their commitment to the Palestinian resistance and its liberation goals. The Iraqi groups have a specific goal: pressure Washington until it forces a Gaza truce – a strategic target that reflects the unity of purpose among the resistance factions in Iraq and the region.

 A senior leader of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq (IRI) sheds light on the significance of the Hamas-led Al-Aqsa flood operation launched on 7 October 2023. That event, he says, is viewed as a game-changer by Palestinian resistance factions, and has sent shockwaves through the corridors of power in Tel Aviv, Washington, and allied capitals. The operation is seen as a historical process challenging the status quo of the past seven decades and redefining the social, security, and military dynamics in the region, the source explains. 

‘Unity of Fronts’: Putting Theory into Practice

At the time, it was noted that any potential involvement of Resistance Axis members other than Lebanon’s Hezbollah in the war would likely materialize in the form of drone and missile attacks targeting specific objectives, as per the Resistance Axis’ strategic convergence in the Unity of Fronts.

The “Red Sea crisis” that unfolded on the Ansarallah-led Yemeni front, in addition to scores of Iraqi resistance attacks against US bases in Iraq and Syria since October seem to confirm this hypothesis. 

In Iraq’s case, the greatest military burden was assumed by four of the resistance factions identified by Kataib Hezbollah Secretary General Abu Hussein al-Hamidawi: his own group Kataib Hezbollah, Harakat al-Nujaba, Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, and Ansarallah al-Aufiaa. As one IRI official says:

“The fronts are opened at the discretion of the leaders (of these groups) themselves, based on religious, ideological, and moral commitments stemming from the nature of the Iraqi character in the first place.” 

Over the past few months, the IRI has demonstrated its versatility by employing a variety of tactics and weaponry in around 188 separate military operations against US targets. These range from missile strikes on US bases in Iraq to drone attacks against US occupation forces in Syria, and even include the targeting of distant Israeli territories such as Ashdod, Haifa, and the occupied Golan Heights. An official source in the IRI confirms that “We bombed with ballistic missiles American bases, even those in Iraq, and this was not limited to distant targets in the depth, or in the occupied territory.” 

However, as tensions escalated, strains in the relationship between Baghdad and Washington became palpable. The Iraqi government found itself caught between the embarrassment of complicity and the challenge of maintaining control over security affairs. Even some of the resistance factions themselves felt the squeeze of external pressures, notably Kataib Hezbollah, who on 31 January announced a temporary suspension of operations against US forces and Israeli targets. The halt came in the immediate aftermath of the killing of three US soldiers in Tower 22 along the Jordanian-Syrian border, in an Iraqi resistance operation unprecedented in its depth which was viewed as a direct challenge to Washington’s perceived invincibility. As expected, the operation caused a spike in tensions, causing some ferocious shuttle diplomacy in the following days and provoking a strong, disproportionate US military response. 

Economic and Strategic Considerations

For factions like Kataib Hezbollah and Al-Nujaba, the decision to suspend operations was a calculated move to gauge Washington’s response. Yet, the US military’s targeted assassination of Kataib Hezbollah commander Abu Baqir al-Saadi caught them off guard, eliciting a sharp condemnation of the US attack from Baghdad. Saadi’s faction, it should be noted, is part of the Popular Mobilization Units that defeated ISIS, and is therefore under the umbrella of the Iraqi armed forces. This time, the Iraqi government had no choice but to side with the resistance, while the IRI issued a stern warning to the US in which it signaled a return to operations.

US Vice President Kamala Harris then extended an invitation to Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani to visit Washington. A postponed September 2023 White House visit to meet US President Joe Biden makes Sudani, notably, the only Iraqi prime minister yet to visit the US in an official capacity.

What cannot be ignored, however, is that these diplomatic initiatives followed a series of coercive measures by the US Treasury to diminish the value of the Iraqi dinar against the US dollar. While Iraq – both officially and among its various political factions – insists that leveraging the volume of Iraqi oil exports as a bargaining chip in the global market is an ineffective negotiating tool, there are those who anticipate seizing the opportunity of market scarcity to increase their share by two million barrels.

Sudani mission is a difficult one. He must hammer out a solution that fulfills his government’s commitment to remove foreign military forces from Iraqi soil without triggering negative US repercussions. These are the monies derived from the sale of Iraq’s oil. This money, instead of staying with Iraq’s Central Bank and its Oil Ministry, the money is parked in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This means that the Rockefeller Empire is in a very strong position to control blackmail and control Iraq’s policies, both internally and externally. This is the key lever that the Rockefellers have over Iraq. The amount of Iraqi oil monies held in the New York Fed is “classified”, and no one is speaking about it.

Baghdad backs the Resistance  

According to leaks, the Iraqi prime minister reportedly reached an agreement with the IRI to suspend its military operations against US bases in order to facilitate his negotiations for the complete withdrawal of international coalition forces from Iraq. Yet, any decision in this regard risks eliciting a negative response from Washington, which brandishes an ever-present arsenal of pressure tactics. This is particularly concerning given that Iraqi oil revenues are still required to pass through the US Federal Bank before being released to Baghdad.

Members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives are actively working to proceed with a law to remove foreign forces from Iraq, with majority representation from Shia-dominated central and southern Iraq. 

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq (IRI), an umbrella group of Iranian-backed armed factions, announced on March 5 that it has begun a “second phase” of operations against Israel in support of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. On the same day, the group said that targeted a power plant in the northern Israeli city of Haifa with a suicide drone.

On March 6, the IRI announced that it had attacked Kiryat Shemona Airport, also located in northern Israel, with a suicide drone. Hebrew media didn’t report any incident on that day. Over the past few days, the Iraqi resistance factions have resumed their attacks on Israel, targeting Haifa and Eilat. It seems that these 2 cities are their favorite target. Do remember that the Iraqi Resistance issued a statement in December that they will close the Mediterranean to Israeli shipping.

And on March 7, the group said that it had launched another suicide drone at a position of the IDF in the Rosh Pinna Airport in northern Israel.

On March 8, the IRI launched two drone attacks, one targeted an intelligence base of the IDF in the northern part of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and the other targeted an oil refinery in Haifa. Again, there were no reports of any incidents in Hebrew media. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq announced early Tuesday that its fighters targeted Ben Gurion Airport deep within the Israeli occupation entity using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

In a statement, the Iraqi Resistance affirmed its commitment to strike the Israeli enemy’s strongholds, as part of the second phase of operations in support of the Palestinian people in Gaza and in response to the Israeli massacres against innocent civilians.

The second phase of the Resistance’s operations includes the enforcement of a blockade on Israeli maritime navigation in the Mediterranean and putting Israeli ports out of service. As the resistance factions step up their military operations in response to the US-backed Israeli assault of Gaza, it becomes clear that there is a growing synergy between the Iraqi government and the Iranian-supported elements of the armed forces.  This alignment forms part of a broader regional resistance faction, with a strategic focus on not only the liberation of Palestine, but also the safeguarding of Iraq’s sovereignty in its entirety. 

Iran’s Strategic Response 

As its support for Palestine is a top Iranian foreign policy priority, President Ebrahim Raisi has stated that the ongoing situation in Gaza raises the possibility of expanding the conflict to other regional fronts.

This is of great concern to the US. Since the beginning of Israel’s aggressions, the US has repeatedly warned Iran and its allies about “opening new fronts” in the war. These warnings have not had the desired impact: more than four months later, it is clear the Resistance Axis has responded proportionately from Lebanon, Syria, Iran, to Yemen with measured retaliations aimed at curbing Israel’s options.

While Washington and Tel Aviv claim they wish to avoid opening new fronts, on the ground, they are gearing up for military confrontation and have already escalated on various fronts. In response, the Axis of Resistance refuses to remain passive, aiming to disrupt Tel Aviv’s crucial lifelines while refraining from fully engaging its forces in the conflict. The baseline is to keep pressure on the US so that it urges restraint from Israel in Gaza.

Today, Iran’s adversarial stance seems to be more focused on the US rather than Israel. Via regional intermediaries, Tehran hopes to broker agreements with Washington to secure a ceasefire and alleviate Israel’s pressure on Gaza. A common view among Iranians is that the pursuit of “legitimate defense” is preferable to engaging in a wider regional conflict, as prolonged internal crises within Israel could ultimately work in Iran’s favor.

Although a “preemptive attack” has already been proposed if Israel continues its assault on Gaza, Iran’s strategic partners in Moscow and Beijing have not declared their full support for direct war. Therefore, Tehran is likely to avoid divergence with Russia and China in the event of major international crises.

When considering the possibility of direct intervention in the Gaza conflict, it’s crucial to recognize the formidable challenges Iran would confront. These include the risk of casualties, economic repercussions, and a decrease in oil exports.

The option of direct Iranian military involvement will only be on the table if Israel and the US cross Tehran’s red lines, though any military action against Iran would be a clear violation of international law. As the Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said in January, although Iran is not seeking war, it will not leave any threat unanswered. Iran has thus far calculated that neither Washington nor Israel would risk direct attacks on its territory. However, the mutual risk of miscalculation on both sides could lead to a gradual escalation into direct warfare.

We have entered a period of breakdown and violence, as the forces pulling apart the old status quo cascade and mutually reinforce one another. The story continues in the next title –  Yemen & The Houthis.

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