It is important to point out that any strategically or politically critical move conducted by Iran’s proxies and militia groups requires prior approval from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the senior commanders of the revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), such as Mohammed Ali Jafari, or top generals from the Quds Force including Qasem Soleimani.
In addition, if it were not for the Iranian regime’s financial support, military intelligence, training, logistical and advisory assistances, the Houthis would not have been empowered to such a level. In other words, the Houthis are fortunate to have the backing of the Iranian regime, which has not let them run out of ammunition in the three-year-old and seemingly intractable conflict in Yemen.
Iran continues to smuggle illicit weapons and technology into Yemen, with the IRGC reportedly now using a new route across the Gulf to get covert arms shipments to the Houthis.
More broadly, this gives an insight into the tactics and long-term strategies of Iranian-trained and armed proxies across the Middle East, which are anchored in four pillars: Destabilization, conflict, assassination, and rejection of any solution that has international legitimacy.
The Iranian regime is comfortable with, and has become masterful in, adopting long-term strategic concepts of ambiguity and deniability. By deploying militias, proxies and covert operations, it becomes difficult for the international community to directly point the finger at Tehran. After a while, Iran makes the international community get accustomed to its terrorism, breaches of international law, illicit activities and violence.
The Iranian regime has a long history of deploying third parties to silence foreign adversaries, as well as influential Iranian dissidents living abroad, through threats and assassination. Recently, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in protest at Iran’s interference in Lebanon through Hezbollah, and he stated there was a plot to assassinate him, just like his father Rafik 12 years ago. According to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, since the establishment of the Iranian regime, its senior leadership has been linked to at least 162 assassinations of people considered political opponents. These assassinations occurred in 19 countries across the world.
Iranian regime and its proxy militia in Yemen share a dangerous ideology that we need to take seriously from now on, because such episodes as the assassination of Saleh will not be their final iteration.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
The detailed report indicates that: “The evidence makes it clear that the Iranian rulers not only approve of assassinations abroad and that they honor and reward the assassins, but that they themselves plan these kinds of assassinations against people who, for purely political reasons, become undesirable. For the sake of preserving their power, they are willing to liquidate their political opponents.”
Finally, the Iranian regime and the Houthis share a dangerous ideology that we need to take seriously from now on, because such episodes as the assassination of Saleh will not be their final iteration. The perpetrators of such crimes against humanity should be held accountable and brought to justice.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. He serves on the boards of the Harvard International Review, the Harvard International Relations Council and the US-Middle East Chamber for Commerce and Business. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh