Militias are armed groups acting outside of the framework of government forces, and they have been formed amongst Shiite populations in Middle East countries, mainly following Khomeini’s rise to power in Iran in 1979. The notorious Quds Force in Iran has been behind the formation of these groups.
Those who join these groups are individuals that have no role in production, are discharged from the society or disaffected. Through joining these groups, in addition to the sense of power they gain, they recognize no law and are not obligated to uphold any red lines in their conduct.
In the first days when these groups were formed those who had basic ideological beliefs joined their ranks, motivated to spread Islam. However, due to the actions of commanders and senior officials they gradually changed their nature and turned into criminal gangs of murderers. At this point, their motivations became gaining more power and money.
In some countries where the ruling power has the same Shiite Islam beliefs, these militias became forces that maintained the ruling elite in power, including Iran where the Revolutionary Guards and Bassij became the main forces protecting the ayatollahs’ rule. Currently the IRGC and Bassij have an organization mirroring that of Iran’s army, consisting of a ground, air, sea, missile and … forces. There is also a unit known as the Quds Force missioned to spread their mentality abroad.
In its early days the Quds Force was known as the Liberation Movements, and it gradually became the dangerous terrorist force known today. The goal in forming this unit was to export the mentality of “Islamic revolution” abroad. The IRGC commander at the time cloaked this goal by describing the objective in forming this group as providing support for nations and people requesting help from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Quds Force consisted of the most prominent and experienced IRGC personnel, with its commander directly appointed by Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei himself. Currently the Quds Force has allocated a specific branch for countries that are suitable for forming militant groups such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain and … The role of this branch is to organize, form and direct its associated groups in these countries.
These militant groups have already been formed in various countries, acting under the direct command of the Quds Force. Below is a brief summary of these groups:
- Lebanon: The Quds Force formed the Lebanese Hezbollah, providing all its weaponry and financial needs.
- Syria: As the inability of Bashar Assad’s forces against popular armed groups became quite visible, the Quds Force entered the scene and formed a popular Bassij force. The Quds Force provided all the weapons and other needs and today this is the main force that is maintaining Bashar Assad in power in Syria.
- Yemen: The Shiite minority in this country used the Houthi tribe, armed them and took advantage of the radical circumstances in this country. Through this group the Quds Force launched an armed conflict against the popularly-elected government of this country and intended to take over all of Yemen. However, Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, took serious action and brought this plot into a complete failure.
- Iraq: Considering the majority of this nation being Shiites and the presence of various armed groups opposing the Iraqi government in Iran, the grounds to work and establish these groups was very ripe for the Quds Force. Following the fall of the previous regime in this country, dozens of armed groups – most associated to the Quds Force – were formed across this country.
Following 2003 the Quds Force has been mainly focused on forming a force similar to the IRGC in Iraq, providing a large amount of assets for this objective. However, due to the presence of other forces, including the United States in Iraq, there were no grounds to finalize this plot. This trend continued until the new circumstances in Iraq and the formation of the Popular Mobilization Forces under the order of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani provided the best conditions for the Quds Force to execute its plan. All of the Quds Force’s efforts in the past year have been focused on this one assignment, which we will enter into more detail in future articles.
- Forming fundamentalist groups in African and Latin American countries will also be covered in upcoming texts.