Gen. Soleimani led Russia-Syria-Iran-Iraq-Hezbollah coalition against terrorism: Venezuelan ambassad

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January 4, 2021 – 17:50

TEHRAN – The Venezuelan ambassador to Tehran describes the coalition created by Russia, Syria, Iran and Iraq, which also includes the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement, as one of the most capable alliances in the war against terrorists groups in Syria and Iraq. 

Carlos Antonio Alcala Cordones says this coalition was led by Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated in a U.S. drone strike near Baghdad’s international airport on January 3, 2020. 

“One of the most important coalitions, led by Martyr Qassem Soleimani, was the Russia-Syria-Iran-Iraq (RSII) coalition, which was later renamed as 4+1 due to the joining of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance group. The military coalition was formed to deal with the conflicts in Syria and Iraq,” Ambassador Antonio Alcala Cordones tells the Tehran Times as Iran is marking the martyrdom anniversary of General Soleimani. 

The ambassador also says the United States and its allies have launched a “hybrid war” against Iran which includes both economic sanctions and acts of terrorism.

 “We should mention the hybrid war waged by the United States and its allies through economic sanctions and terrorist attacks against Iran,” the top Venezuelan diplomat to Iran notes.

In the newest act of state terrorism against the Islamic Republic, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top Iranian nuclear expert, was assassinated in a road outside Tehran on November 27. Iran has said Israel is directly responsible for the terrorist act. 

Analysts believe the assassination was a joint project by Israel and the United States. Professor Hossein Askari, who teaches international business at George Washington University, says he is “almost sure” that the assassination of Fakhrizadeh was a joint project carried out by the Israeli prime minister the U.S. president. 

Following is the text of interview with the Venezuelan ambassador: 

Q: Given the specific geopolitical situation in West Asia and the crises that have intensified in the region in recent years, how do you assess Iran’s role in the fight against terrorism in the region?

A: The regional situation regarding the fight against terrorism and the participation of the Islamic Republic of Iran in it is undoubtedly a very complex issue, and in the analysis that we can do, it is important to consider the geopolitical, religious and ideological issues.

In my view, there are various elements that the Islamic Republic of Iran has strongly defended in its foreign policy, which influence its strategies with allied countries and countries with which it is in conflict. First, its effort to achieve the economic development and growth of its nation. Second, defending its territorial integrity as enshrined in the country’s constitution and Islamic principles. Third, defending its religious and ideological beliefs reflected in the confrontation with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States, whose scenario is one of the constant dangers. And finally, the implementation of a strong internal structure that has allowed it to introduce itself as the main hero and guarantor of regional order. All of these elements, in addition to its constant anti-imperialist approach toward the international system, have led Iran to engage with actors associated with its ideology, such as its relationship with Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Shiite groups, and strengthen its influence in the region, through traditional actors such as Syria and Russia.

Support for other strategic actors for which religious tendencies prevail over ideological beliefs, such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, are other elements that should be considered in the analysis. It is important to note that Iran has increased its political weight in the region since the Iraq war and is now seen as a direct threat by its enemies, turning this classic hostility through supporting actors in various conflicts in the region into an indirect confrontation.

To this analysis is added the historic struggle for supremacy in a conflict-ridden region whose heroes are precisely Iran and Saudi Arabia. As noted, the Arab Spring changed the regional context by reconfiguring the geopolitical map. The two countries have a clear internal cohesion because their religious populations, mainly Shiites and Sunnis, are also found in other regional countries and have significant military, ideological, cultural and economic capabilities, in a way that both countries have acted in countries with domestic divisions such as Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon and Yemen through actors; and in the case of Iran, this has led to a ground gain in the region.

“It (Iran) supports the struggle of the oppressed against the oppressors everywhere in the world. This acts as a basis for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s fight against terrorism.”On the other hand, Saudi Arabia also plays an important role, as its foreign policy towards the region is more focused on its neighbors in the Persian Gulf and with a horizontal axis, especially in the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC), with the aim of isolating Iran and prevent its growing influence in the region.

Another important element that has reshaped the geopolitical chessboard and should be considered is the revitalization of Iran through the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was signed on July 14, 2015 in Vienna, under which it was agreed that Iran’s nuclear program be limited for a decade in exchange for the lifting of international economic sanctions. This allowed Iran to maintain its position in the Middle East (West Asia) and seek to secure the role of discourse while expanding its territory in strategic areas. But that fact is changing, as on May 8, 2018, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the JCPOA and reinstate U.S. nuclear sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran and once again put Iran in a very difficult position.

These points represent two opposing models domestically and internationally: a revolutionary, anti-imperialist model represented by Iran versus a conservative, pro-Western model represented by Saudi Arabia.

On the other hand, the competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the geo-strategic field of energy is expanding. Therefore, it is a valuable point to control the exploitation of resources, maritime traffic and international oil trade via the Strait of Hormuz, through which 17 million barrels cross each day. The Saudi crude oil reserves are located in an eastern province, which has the largest Shiite population. Saudi Arabia has the money to build oil and gas pipelines from the east coast to the west, which will facilitate its outflow from the Red Sea, which is seen as a way to expand its trade to the Mediterranean. Similarly, from the Red Sea, Saudi Arabia supplies oil to Asian countries, its main customers in the region (China and Japan). This is a longer way to go, but it prevents a confrontation with Iran in the Strait of Hormuz, which is a strategic passage in international maritime navigation, because Iran has the longest coastline in the Persian Gulf, and enjoys the opportunity to penetrate these waters in the above-mentioned strait.

It is noteworthy that since the Islamic Republic of Iran’s declaration of existence in 1979, the Iranian government has been accused by the United States of financing terrorists, and providing them with equipment, weapons, training, and shelter, and Iran has been described as a “sponsor of terrorism”. They have described the country as the most important threat to the security of the Middle East (West Asia) and one of the most hostile countries in the international system and they have sought to isolate it.

Recall that the U.S. State Department currently identifies 60 groups as international terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, Hamas, Al-Fatah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hezbollah. And last April, Trump labeled the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) as a “foreign terrorist organization” and this is the first time the United States has taken action against another country’s military. According to an old saying, “One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.”

It should be noted that in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers, the United States implemented the Patriot Act which was a response by Congress against terrorism and international organized crime. This is an extraterritorial law that includes international powers and is based on international treaties and bilateral agreements, but we all know that the United States systematically fights and acts with the aim of stigmatizing and harassing, under the name of “fighting terrorists” against Islam and to the detriment of various Muslim organizations, which are characterized by anti-terrorism and have connections with the popular, patriotic and social struggles.

But if we ask ourselves why there is violence in the region, we can quote some of the remarks made by Foreign Minister Dr. Zarif, in which he notes that “the increase in violence in the Middle East is rooted in the constant presence of foreign forces, and also in their interference in the internal affairs of regional countries to reshape the structure of the region.” And this is what the interventionist policy of the North American empire constantly states. Likewise, we should mention the hybrid war waged by the United States and its allies through economic sanctions and terrorist attacks against Iran.

The phenomenon of terrorism and its consequences must be discussed and identified on the basis of the reasons that led to its development, or through the intensification and exploitation of religious dogmatism, as in the case of the Islamic State and its intention to incite sectarian tensions with the goal of unifying all the majority Muslim countries under one state and by one caliphate and through jihad, which is still a concern of the international community.

Finally, terrorism has directly or indirectly affected a large portion of humans, because the emergence of terrorism, in addition to increasing drug use and drug trafficking and organized crime networks, intensifies human rights violations, fatal migrations, and also famine.

Q: Iran has been the victim of large and small terrorist acts since the victory of the Islamic Revolution. As a country that has suffered greatly from this ominous phenomenon and has gained valuable experience in the fight against terrorism at the national and regional levels, how do you assess Iran’s efforts to build a consensus among regional countries to fight terrorism?

A: The Islamic Republic of Iran has suffered severe blows since the beginning of the Islamic Revolution, including the assassination of four Iranian nuclear scientists between 2010 and 2012, and the recent terrorist attack on nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. In addition to an in-depth look at security systems, this incident has created a scenario of confrontation and tension, given that technological advances have changed the ways in which conflicts have escalated and changed the nature of threats.

“It is also important not to politicize campaign against terrorism, and all countries should unite in this battle, regardless of political or diplomatic relations among them.”Today, the use of artificial intelligence intensifies cyber, physical, and biological attacks, making them more selective and at the same time more anonymous, facilitating these attacks by reducing or even eliminating the need for the physical involvement of humans. This scenario is no longer a concern for human beings. Let us recall the terrorist attack in Iraq against the great martyr, Qassem Soleimani, the hero of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, whose absence is irreparable for the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It is difficult to reach a consensus on this issue with several countries in the region, but Iran’s efforts to advance strategies that help combat terrorism are significant, such as the success in reducing the global terrorism index in the governments that it works in, especially because Iran is a country that has the power to challenge the interests of the great powers and has an excellent political, scientific, technological and military platform that supports its foreign policy.

It is also important not to politicize campaign against terrorism, and all countries should unite in this battle, regardless of political or diplomatic relations among them.

Q: In recent years, under the pretext of fighting terrorism, coalitions have been formed with the participation of countries outside the region (and even outside Asia). Alliances whose main goal, according to many political and military experts, is the political and economic exploitation of the current crises in West Asia. Some experts even believe that these countries themselves are the cause of such tensions. Do you think such coalitions can help resolve crises or defeat terrorism?

A: Undoubtedly, the formation of coalitions creates a very complex scenario because different elements are interconnected according to the potential of their constituent countries. As I mentioned earlier, we are currently talking about cooperation in the fields of science, technology, and military, in addition to the political and diplomatic relations between each of the countries.

One of the most important coalitions, led by Martyr Qassem Soleimani, was the Russia-Syria-Iran-Iraq (RSII) coalition, which was later renamed as 4+1 due to the joining of the Lebanese Hezbollah military group. The military coalition was formed to deal with the conflicts in Syria and Iraq in the Middle East and currently supports Lebanon’s Hassan Nasrallah.

The coalition consists of the Russian Armed Forces and the Axis of Resistance (the IRGC, Syrian Armed Forces, Iraqi Armed Forces, and Hezbollah forces). The importance of this coalition is that it was created as a counterweight to the U.S.-led international coalition against ISIL, although the RSII’s military objectives are not limited to destroying the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also dismantling other jihadist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda, as well as closing the Iraqi-Syrian borders, which are used as strategic corridors for the entry and exit of militants.

Coalitions should serve to resolve crises, not to promote terrorism, but the situation is not always favorable and has a history of unexpected turns that upset the balance of the intended goal.

Q: Given the need to form a coalition of countries in West Asia to fight terrorism in the region, what role can Iran play in creating such a coalition?

A: In the international context, the unity that countries can create is very important and one of the precise principles of Iran’s foreign policy is the promotion of these alliances, of course through respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations and as stated in Chapter 10, Article 154 of the Constitution, it supports the struggle of the oppressed against the oppressors everywhere in the world. These elements act as a basis for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s fight against terrorism.

Undoubtedly, Iran has played an important unifying role, and this has earned the respect of the countries of the region for it. Therefore, it is expected that a great unity will be created in the future, whose common interests are the fight against the plague of terrorism in all its forms.

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