The 'Spear Point' for Iranian Power: How Powerful Shia Militias Are Working to Wipe Out Israel and the West
JERUSALEM, Israel – In the wake of the killing of Iranian Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani, many people are looking at the importance of the many Shia militia groups throughout the Middle East. One researcher has spent years studying these groups and has an important message to the West and the US.
Researcher Phillip Smyth created the Shia Militia Mapping Project, an exhaustive research effort identifying Iranian-backed Shia militias throughout the Middle East. He says they’re an extension of Iranian power.
“They are the spear point for the Iranians. We talk about their nuclear weapons and the nuclear threat that’s coming out of Iran. But this is the real nuclear weapon on the ground. This is what affects change in the region. This is what’s kept dictators in power that Iranians have wanted, for example, Bashar al Assad. It’s Shia militias that have supported him. How do they control Lebanon, Lebanese Hezbollah," he told CBN News.
Smyth said Qassem Soliemani masterminded these “states within states” and wove them throughout the region from Lebanon to Iraq.
“He was a guy on the ground who knew how to build relationships and not only that but what made him very important is that he knew how to delegate to other commanders. He knew who the right people were. He knew who was going to be ideologically loyal. Who could be financially loyal.”
These militia groups number as many as 200,000 and pose a "massive" threat to Israel, America's number one ally in the Middle East.
“This is the tip of the spear for the Iranians in terms of fighting the Israelis," Smyth explained.
He says Americans should know about these groups and care.
“These groups have been consistently threatening the United States and its interests in the region. And ideologically they hold that the United States needs to be out of the region but religiously speaking, they view the United States as the (Farsi) or the 'Great Satan' and that’s a true belief that the hard-core ideologues hold," said Smyth. “That means they want to take American lives when it’s strategically advantageous.”
Based on Smyth's research, it’s clear America, Israel, and the West will be dealing with these Shia groups through the Middle East for the foreseeable future.