LATEST: The Training Camp Near Tehran for Syria’s Militia

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SUMMARY: After weeks of tension with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Coprs over his authority and issues like Syria and nuclear talks, President Rouhani appears to have warned the IRGC, “Stay out of politics.”

While praising the Guards for their military capability and their spirit and devotion, Rouhani — harking back to the words of Ayatollah Khomeini — said the IRGC should not “enter into political games”.

In the address to Guards commanders, emphasized that all Iranians must be confident, relaxed, and comforted by seeing the IRGC as their defender.

Already, there appears to be a possible fight-back against Rouhani’s attempt at boundaries. A Twitter account which invokes Rouhani’s name but may be linked to another faction within the regime has ignored the President’s main statement. However, it may unwittingly have highlighted Rouhani’s concern that the Guards stay out of economic matters:

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IRGC Commander Issues (Another) Warning Over Syria

IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, has warned Washington not to strike Syria, but instead to adopt a “wise decision” — otherwise the IRGC will act.

“If the US makes any military move, it will face numerous problems… God willing, the US will adopt wise decisions in this regard and won’t expose itself to danger” Jafari said according to Fars News, which is close to the IRGC.

Jafari added that, should the US strike Syria, “the IRGC will act upon its responsibility”. He refused to explain what this might mean.

US Web Hosting Company Shuts Down Karoubi’s Website, Citing Sanctions

US web-hosting company Just Host has closed down the website of Mehdi Karoubi, the Iranian reformist leader held under house arrest in Tehran.

The company said it had to close the site in August to comply with US sanctions.

Reuters reports:

Mohammad Hossein Ziya, a former aide to Karoubi who runs his website from the United States, said he received a notice in August from Just Host telling him it could no longer host Karoubi’s personal site,

In a letter to Ziya which he showed to Reuters, the company cited sanctions imposed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), under the U.S. Treasury Department.

“This sanction extends to include the country-code top level domains .IR, .SY, .KP, and .CU (Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Cuba),” the letter said.

The Training Camp Near Tehran for Syria’s Militia

Amid the hyperbole, political spin, and errors in an article in The Wall Street Journal, “Iranians Dial Up Presence in Syria”, these paragraphs are valuable:

[Shia] fighters “are told that the war in Syria is akin to [an] epic battle for Shiite Islam, and if they die they will be martyrs of the highest rank,” says an Iranian military officer briefed on the training camp, which is 15 miles outside Tehran and called Amir Al-Momenin, or Commander of the Faithful….

The Amir Al-Momenin camp, home to the Guards’ ballistic missile arsenal, is an important military installation. Shiite fighters are trained there in guerrilla warfare, field survival and the handling of heavy guns, according to Guards members and others who work in the camp. There are also daily religious classes….

Shiites from Yemen and Saudi Arabia are being trained for fighting inside Syria, say Guards officials and Iranian villagers who live near the facility.

Dozens of buses with tinted windows carrying the men have been arriving nightly at the base, which is surrounded by farmlands, they say. Many enter Iran under the pretext of being religious pilgrims, then are sent to Syria via Iraq.

That information matches testimony from Syrian militiamen that they have been in Iran for training. It also supports EA’s analysis of the recent video footage, obtained from a slain Iranian veteran involved with a documentary, that showed Iranian officers in Syria training Shia milita — including the emphasis on the “fight for Shia Islam”.


Tehran Celebrates Victory & “US Retreat” in Syria

Iran’s media are celebrating victory in the Syrian conflict this morning, with cheers for a resolution of the chemical weapons issue and exultation over an American “retreat”.

The Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman takes the diplomatic line, welcoming Syria’s accession to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons “within the framework of Russia’s initiative which pursues preventing outbreak of a new war in the region”.

Others prefer emphasis on Washington’s defeat. Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said on Sunday,
“Given the new circumstances in Syria, the US and certain sides have lost the pretext for military action.”

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of Parliament’s National Security Commission, declared, “The Americans have no other option but to back away from attacking Syria as their pretext was the issue of chemical weapons.”

And Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, proclaims Syria is the “latest setback for the enemies of the Revolution”.

Beyond the propaganda, the Syrian developments could offer a real benefit at home for Tehran. The ongoing issue of the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons was raising tensions between the Revolutionary Guards, with its unquestioning support for Damascus, and President Rouhani and his “moderate” foreign policy.

Now both sides may unite behind the “victory” of the US-Russia agreement for Syria to hand over chemical weapons — even as the Assad military presses its “conventional” offensive — while explaining that Moscow and Tehran prevailed over Washington.