Iran’s Regional Armed Network

Hezbollah supporters in Lebanon attend a funeral ceremony rally to mourn Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. air strike at a Baghdad airport. Aziz Taher/Reuters

Iran’s web of armed partners such as Hezbollah serves to strengthen its influence in the Middle East and could pose a growing threat to the United States and its allies in the region.

January 28, 2020

Hezbollah supporters in Lebanon attend a funeral ceremony rally to mourn Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. air strike at a Baghdad airport. Aziz Taher/Reuters
Article
Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

More on:

Iran

Lebanon

Middle East and North Africa

Wars and Conflict

Defense and Security

In the four decades since its Islamic Revolution, Iran has formed or supported an expanding number of allied fighting forces throughout the Middle East. Iran’s Quds Force, part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), serves as the main point of contact with these groups, providing them with training, weaponry, and funds to promote Iranian regional objectives. Fighters from Shiite Muslim–majority countries such as Iraq and Lebanon compose Iran’s main proxies, but groups in Sunni-majority Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, and Syria have also formed associations with Iran. At the heart of this network [PDF] is Hezbollah, a Lebanese political party and militant group infamous for its acts of terrorism, which has helped Iran bridge Shiite Arab–Persian divides. More recently, Hezbollah helped Iran support the Bashar al-Assad regime in the civil war in Syria, where it worked to bring other militias to the regime’s defense.

How does Iran benefit?

More From Our Experts

Groups acting on Iran’s behalf have attacked U.S. forces in the past, and experts say Iran hopes to further leverage its growing network of partners to move equipment and personnel across the Middle East to bolster the country’s drive for regional hegemony and remove Western powers. While U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign has further weakened Iran’s economy, analysts say many of the groups Iran has cultivated were or are becoming more financially independent of their benefactor. They say the U.S. killing of Quds Force commander Qasem Solemani in January could motivate them to increase attacks on the United States and its allies in the region.

 

More on:

Iran

Lebanon

Middle East and North Africa

Wars and Conflict

Defense and Security

Creative Commons
Creative Commons: Some rights reserved.
Close
This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License.
View License Detail
Close

Top Stories on CFR

Iran

A sweeping win in parliamentary elections helps Iranian conservatives in a time of mounting tensions with Washington, but record-low turnout signals fading public support for Iran’s hard-liners.

Election 2020

Russia interfered with the U.S. presidential election in 2016, and in 2018, internet trolls again spread disinformation during the midterms. Intelligence officials warn that interference in this year’s presidential election may already be underway.

Kenya

The Trump administration hopes that a free trade agreement with Nairobi will be a counterweight to Beijing’s growing role across Africa and a model for bilateral deals with others on the continent.