Commentary on Political Economy

Tuesday 2 April 2024



The Iranians Pay a Price in Syria


Monday’s strike killed Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi, Iran’s top Quds Force commander in Lebanon and Syria, as well as his deputy commander and his chief of general staff. Israel doesn’t claim responsibility for such attacks, but its Army Radio and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have confirmed the kills. The IRGC announced seven dead members.

As regional chief of the Quds Force, Zahedi was point man in Iran’s war on Israel. He was the boss of Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy that has fired more than 3,500 rockets, unprovoked, on Israel’s north since Oct. 7, and he gave orders to Syria’s Assad regime as well. Zahedi was responsible for Iran’s weapons transfers to Hezbollah and was believed to be in daily contact with its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

The attack was carried out with precision on a building next to Iran’s embassy that reportedly served as the IRGC military headquarters. Much hemming and hawing will turn on whether this building was a diplomatic or military site. The IRGC and its Quds Force are U.S.-designated terrorist organizations that plot and execute Iran’s strategy of regional subversion and expansion. These are men with rivers of blood on their hands.


Monday’s strike is in contrast to the U.S. response after Iranian proxies killed three Americans near the Syrian border in January. The Biden Administration leaked news of its retaliation in advance, giving Iranian commanders in Syria ample time to flee. Not this time.

Iran has threatened a harsh response, but it can’t say it didn’t ask for escalation. Overnight on Sunday, before the strike on Damascus, an Iranian drone fired from Iraq hit an Israeli naval base in Eilat. This follows Israel’s most successful operation in Gaza, a surprise raid that killed 200 terrorists and arrested more than 500, including senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders, hiding at Al-Shifa Hospital.

The front to watch is now to Israel’s north, where Iran could order Hezbollah to respond with some of its 200,000 rockets and other munitions, including ballistic missiles. Other proxies could also step up the fight against Israel and the U.S.

The stakes, as Iran considers its options, are high. Tehran needs to hear a clear message from the White House. Not criticism to undermine the Israeli government but steadfast support that makes the Ayatollahs think twice before giving an order they would come to regret.

Wonder Land: Joe Biden and Donald Trump know the details of the nation’s security threat. Does either have a plan to meet it? Images: AP/Reuters Composite: Mark Kelly


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Appeared in the April 2, 2024, print edition as 'The Iranians Pay a Price in Syria'.

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