Two planes have moved weapons from Iran to Beirut via Damascus. The airline is known as Qeshm Fars Air and is used by both the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as well as al Quds, but led by Qassem Soleimani. The weapons are bound for Hezbollah.
Meanwhile, Iran has also been moving missiles to Iraq and Syria. These are short range missiles which Iran says are for defensive activities. There are two types of missiles. They are the Zelzal Fateh-110 and the Zolfaqar. Both have ranges estimated up to 700 km. That means based on the locations, they can strike both Riyadh and Tel Aviv. This too is being managed by Qassem Soleimani. This is not fully a new condition for Iran as they have been transferring missiles to the Houthis in Yemen where some have been launched at Saudi Arabia.
The number of transferred missiles is unknown at this time but it appears the most recent transfer to Iraq is designed to supply Iraq as a forward operating base for Iran. Officials of the West have said that the missiles are being manufactured in al Zafaraniya, which is East of Baghdad. Another location that has been noted is Jurf al Sakhar, north of Kerbala.
The al Zafaraniya location is producing warheads using the same operations owned by Saddam Hussein. Shiite engineers have been recruited and hired to make all locations fully operational.
So, what does European intelligence have as a response to all of this considering they are still working to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. Not so much it seems.
In another meanwhile, we have the former Iraqi militant cleric and killer of U.S. forces, Muqtada al Sadr who appears to have joined with Prime Minister Haider al Abadi to announce a new Parliament in Iraq. al Sadr has the largest bloc now in the Iraqi Parliament known as ‘The Alliance of Reform and Building’ that is made up of yet another set of tribal political groups. No Kurds are part of this new Parliament at all.
The question now is will al Sadr openly or covertly cooperate with Tehran? Can a radical deadly cleric become an ally of the West? Not so fast…..as al Sadr promises reform, he is already under some influence of Tehran. The negotiations continue, the outcome uncertain.
In June, al Sadr met with Iran officials for some weird alliance and perhaps this was to ensure votes for seats in the new Parliament.
The Parliament has held the first session but no official Speaker or deputies have been elected or named.
2004 was an especially deadly year for Americans in Iraq due to al Sadr leading a militia, the Mahdi Army. So, has Muqtada al Sadr remade himself into a moderate or is he just plotting? What ultimate direction will Iraq go in coming months/years remains to be determined.