Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's trip to Lebanon is a victory lap for the Islamic regime in his country, observes former Iranian Revolutionary Guard member turned CIA agent Reza Kahlili. In an op-ed column for the Washington Times, Kahlili notes that the tour is a "historic point for the Islamic regime in Iran" and "its victory over Israel and the West in gaining control of Lebanon. This reinforces for the Iranians that their philosophy of radicalism and strategy of terrorism have big payoffs."
Kahlili goes on to describe his personal experience as a member of the Revolutionary Guard, the elite force of Iran tasked with liberating Islamic territories and spearheading the advance of the revolution throughout the Muslim and non-Muslim world. As he puts it, the Guard was dispatched by supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini "to take the fight to the Americans and Israelis and expand their operation in Lebanon." Its order was to recruit and train a fighting force more "committed to martyrdom and the destruction of Israel and America" than the preexisting Shiite militia of Amal.
With planeloads of arms, explosives, and officers, Kahlili claims that it was Iran who forged the terrorist movements Islamic Jihad and Hizballah. These resources would start several wars between Israel and Lebanon, lead to the 1983 bombing of the US Marine headquarters in Beirut, and project Iranian influence into Lebanon, the Middle East's most pluralistic but fragmented nation.
The departure of American forces from Lebanon, following the deaths of 241 Marines in the Beirut bombing of their military headquarters, emboldened the clerics and the Guard. With this symbolic victory of the American superpower, Iran expanded its terror networks and infused them with the martyrdom ideology that would lead to the terror of suicide bombings. The Guard "either committed or abetted the Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1989; the 1994 Jewish Community Center bombing in Buenos Aires; and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia." The suicide bombings also successfully derailed the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and gave Iran the ability to distract the West through its proxy, Hizballah. According to Kahlili, this was the plan of the regime when it pushed Hizballah to launch a war with Israel in 2006, in response to President George Bush's decision to take action against Iranian forces.
Kahlili's conclusion is stark. As long as "the West continues to provide legitimacy to terrorism and the terrorists' criminal activity by maintaining its policy of appeasement and negotiation," the Islamic Revolution will become "more emboldened … in raising the flag of Islam in all corners of the world." The signs of this range from the successful repression of Iranian moderates, to the arming of Shia populations in Yemen, and the undermining of security in Iraq and Bahrain. Iran has even allied itself with non-Islamic regimes such as Venezuela, and built an alliance of anti-Western powers. To Kahlili, the West can no longer "move its lines in the sand" or "turn our backs on our principles in an effort to negotiate a solution with the Islamic regime in Iran." Ahmadinejad's photo op in Lebanon should be a wake-up call, before Iran realizes its ambitions of a new world order built on nuclear weapons.
To read Khalili's full column, click here.