New Study: A Regional Reality Check about Iran as the P5+1 Meet

As the P5+1 group meets with Iran this week in Iraq, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) release a new study entitled, Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan, in which co-authors Frederick W. Kagan, Ahmad K. Majidyar, Danielle Pletka of AEI and Marisa Cochrane Sullivan of ISW warn that,

"The most important conclusion this study can offer is the growing importance of evaluating Iranian strategy in any one area within the context of Iranian strategy as a whole. One of the greatest mistakes the United States can make is to imagine that Iranian activities in a given arena--the nuclear program, for example--are isolated from Iranian undertakings in another."

Did you know?:

Syria

  • Iran agreed to finance a $23 million Syrian military compound at Latakia airport in order to transport weapons from Iran to Syria via transport planes. The facility will reportedly be manned by a joint Syrian-IRGC team. (Page 24)
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  • Since 2008, Iran has sponsored dozens of Shi'a theological centers (hawzas) as well as Iranian cultural and educational centers in Syria. (Page 27)
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  • In 2009, Syria received a total of $1.467 billion in total foreign direct investment in 2008, of which $1 billion came from Iran. (Page 29)
 


Hezbollah & Hamas

  • Iran donated $600 million in "election financial aid" to Hezbollah to help the party's prospects in the 2009 parliamentary elections. (Page 39)
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  • In 2008, 800 Hamas fighters underwent extensive training with the IRGC in Iran and Syria. (Page 43)
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Afghanistan

  • Iran's economic activity in Afghanistan has grown significantly over the past three years. Iran's exports to Afghanistan increased from $800 million in 2008 to more than $2 billion in 2011, and the two sides aim to further enhance bilateral trade to $6 billion in coming years. (Page 80)
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  • Iranian companies are implementing 110 technical-engineering projects in Afghanistan worth $360 million. More than 2000 private Iranian firms are operating across Afghanistan, and the number is growing. (Page 80)
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  • Iran provides direct monetary assistance to the Taliban. Documents seized from the Taliban's Kunduz headquarters show the insurgents received "interest-free loans" from Iran's National Bank to finance their operations. (Page 84)
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  • More than 3,000 out of 5,630 Afghan citizens jailed in Iran are facing execution. Iranian and Afghan opposition media claim many were jailed for allegedly aiding the 2009 antigovernment protests. (Page 86)
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  • In 2010, Afghan President Hamid Karzai publicly acknowledged accepting about $2 million in direct annual cash payments from Iran. (Page 86)
 

The authors are available for interviews and can be reached at:

Frederick W. Kagan, Director of AEI's Critical Threats Project:fkagan@aei.org or through Katherine.faley@aei.org (202.828.6035)

Ahmad K. Majidyar, AEI Senior Research Associate: ahmad.majidyar@aei.org (202.862.5845)

Danielle Pletka, AEI's Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies: dpletka@aei.org or through Alex Della Rocchetta at adr@aei.org (202.862.7152)

Marisa Cochrane Sullivan, ISW Deputy Director: msullivan@understandingwar.org (202.293.5550 x215)

For media inquiries or additional help, please contact Jesse Blumenthal at jesse.blumenthal@aei.org (202.862.4870)

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About the Author

 

Danielle
Pletka

  • As a long-time Senate Committee on Foreign Relation senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia, Danielle Pletka was the point person on Middle East, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia: Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.


    Pletka is the co-editor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the co-author of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011) and “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI Press, 2012). Her most recent study, “America vs. Iran: The competition for the future of the Middle East,” was published in January 2014.


     


    Follow Danielle Pletka on Twitter.


  • Phone: 202-862-5943
    Email: dpletka@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Alexandra Della Rocchetta
    Phone: 202-862-7152
    Email: alex.dellarocchetta@aei.org

 

Frederick W.
Kagan

 

Ahmad K.
Majidyar
  • Ahmad K. Majidyar studies political and security affairs in South Asia and the Middle East, with a special focus on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. He also travels frequently to military bases across the United States to instruct senior U.S. Army and Marine officers about culture, religion, and domestic politics in Afghanistan, and about terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Before joining AEI in 2008, Mr. Majidyar worked as a media analyst with BBC Monitoring in Kabul, and served as an aid worker with the United Nations agency for refugees in Peshawar, Pakistan. He is fluent in Dari (Persian), Pashto, and Urdu.


    Follow Ahmad Majidyar on Twitter.
  • Phone: 202-862-5845
    Email: ahmad.majidyar@aei.org

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