September 06, 2013

U.S. Must Push Back against Threat Posed by Iran’s Global Revolutionary Network Say Authors of CNAS Report

Washington, September 6, 2013 - In focusing on the challenges posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions, U.S. policymakers have overlooked the threat posed by Tehran's global revolutionary network argue Scott Modell and David Asher in Pushback: Countering the Iran Action Network released today by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Scott Modell, a Non-Resident Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Dr. David Asher , an Adjunct Senior Fellow at CNAS, report that for more than 30 years, Iran has utilized a network of government and non-government organizations to promote the Islamic revolution abroad. Dubbing it the Iran Action Network, the authors note that the IAN is involved in terrorism; political, economic and social subversion; illicit finance; trafficking in weapons and narcotics; and nuclear weapons procurement and proliferation.

Download a copy of Pushback: Countering the Iran Action Network.

Mr. Modell and Dr. Asher identify three primary IAN groups: the Qods Force, an elite branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is responsible for "irregular warfare and asymmetric operations"; the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, which is "heavily involved in foreign intelligence collection and covert action programs, especially in the Middle East"; and Lebanese Hezbollah, which in addition to fighting on the front lines in Syria, has also "extended its organizational and operational reach throughout the world and developed deep ties to trans-national organized crime as part of its strategy and financing." According to the authors, the three groups are "operationally aggressive and robust" throughout the Middle East, Afghanistan, Africa and Latin America.

Mr. Modell and Dr. Asher call upon the United States to move beyond sanctions and diplomacy, urging Washington to "conduct an active pushback campaign to combat Iran's regional and global influence." They outline a strategy that would include improving government coordination and information sharing, making law enforcement a strategic element of national power, and targeting Iran's financial networking by creating an illicit finance czar at the Treasury Department. Only with such an aggressive campaign can the United States expose and damage the criminal foundations of the IAN and "further undermine the notion that Iran's Islamic revolution is the true source of inspiration in the Muslim world today," the authors conclude.

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is an independent and non partisan research institution that develops strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies. CNAS leads efforts to help inform and prepare the national security leaders of today and tomorrow.