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Iran's Quds Force and the Influence of Lawrence of Arabia on the Modern Middle East

Updated on April 6, 2017
Mark Caruthers profile image

BA University of Arkansas Fayetteville Geography & History

T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)

Thomas Edward Lawrence a British officer whose World War I exploits earned him fame as Lawrence of Arabia. He and a small force of Arab Calvary won back Arabia from an invading Turkish Army. Lawrence helped lead a two year revolt against the Turks which included major battles and dangerous missions behind enemy lines. The Hejaz Railway was one of the greatest civil-engineering projects of the early 20th century. It was Turkey's attempt at building an empire in the modern Middle East. If it would have been completed it would have been possible to travel from Constantinople all the way to the Arabian city of Medina over 1800 miles away. But the Hejaz Railway fell victim to ambitions of the combatants of First World War. For nearly two years British raiders systematically attacked bridges and isolated supply depots breaking the supply lines to frontline Turkish forces. T.E. Lawrence an expert in demolitions let the British and Arab force during this campaign of attrition. By his own account Lawrence blew up 79 bridges along the railway, becoming so skilled that he perfected a technique of leaving a bridge scientifically shattered. The bridge was ruined but still standing forcing Turkish engineers the time consuming task of dismantling the wreckage before the bridge could be replaced. By the end of the First World War, the damage to the railway was so extensive that most of it was abandoned, leaving a trail of desolation that still today, ninety years later, stretches 600 miles into the Arabian Desert.

T.E. Lawrence

Lawrence of Arabia

T.E. Lawrence in his native clothing as he battled against the Turkish Army during the First World War.
T.E. Lawrence in his native clothing as he battled against the Turkish Army during the First World War. | Source
T.E. Lawrence in his British uniform 1914.
T.E. Lawrence in his British uniform 1914. | Source

Lawrence of Arabia and the Rise of the Quds Force

As the desert war with the Turks continued senior British officials began to increasingly regard Lawrence as the enemy within, the malcontent who stood in the way of victorious leaders of Britain and France as they began dividing the spoils of war as their forces drove the Turkish Army from the Middle East. Lawrence's dream was to create an independent Arab nation with Syria as its heart. At the end of the First World War, France and Britain basically turned their back on their Arab allies and signed the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The future independent Arab nation was given the wastelands of Arabia, while the regions of value basically Iraq and Syria were put under the Imperial spheres of Britain and France. Since this agreement was put into law, a catalog of war, religious strife and brutal dictatorships has haunted the modern Middle East. It is as if the Arab people have taken a page out of T.E. Lawrence's playbook, what is happening today in the Middle East is very similar to what Lawrence did a century ago. Lawrence understood how a small group of men with explosives could defeat a modern army. If we fast forward to today we seen in Iran a force that follows Lawrence's game plan, the Quds Force. The Quds Force, also known as the Jerusalem Force has given them the ultimate goal of occupying Jerusalem and the destruction of Israel. The size of the Quds Force is unknown but its estimated to number around 15,000 soldiers. Quds Force commanders report the directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran. The Quds Force headquarters is located in the former compound of the U.S. Embassy, which was overrun during the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The Quds Force is the cream of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, it has the most well-deserved reputation for being one of the most organized, disciplined, and violent terrorist organizations in the world today. For the past 30 years the Islamic Republic has been based on a fundamental alliance between the clergy and the Revolutionary Guards Corps. But today the dynamic has changed to where the Revolutionary Guards Corps does both the ruling and the guarding. The Quds are also deeply involved in the Civil War in Syria, helping Bashar al-Assad the commander and chief of the Syrian Armed Forces destroy rebel forces attempting to take over his country, where the death toll has reached over 130,000 with a third of those involving civilians on both sides of the battle lines leaving half of Syria's citizens homeless.

Quds Force leader Qasem Solaimani

Source

Quds Force leader Qasem Solaimani and its History

Originally known as the birun marzi (outside the borders) or Department 9000, the Revolutionary Guards Corps decided to call their special forces the Quds Force, or Jerusalem Force. Quds in Arabic means Jerusalem, a promise that one day the Revolutionary Guards would liberate Jerusalem from the Jewish colonizers and destroy Israel. The Jerusalem Force has had a long history of backing coups, assassinating dissidents, and kidnapping foreigners. It was behind the Marine Headquarters bombing in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983, the most deadly attack against the U.S. Marines since the battle of Iwo Jima in February 1945. The attack took place in Beirut, on October the 23rd 1983 at 6:22 A.M. A lone terrorist driving a Mercedes Benz water truck loaded with the military explosive PETN, equivalent to 12,000 pound of TNT, accelerated through the public parking lot south of the Marine Headquarters then crashed into the Headquarters building and detonated. This suicide bombing is believed to be the largest man-made, non-nuclear explosion in history. The driver of the truck is still worshiped today by Iran and its proxy Hezbollah. Mohsen Sazegara, a founding member of the Revolutionary Guard Corps and now a U.S. based Iranian dissident, states the original charter of the elite force was to create a people's army but through years of political and military change it has transformed into a shadowy behemoth. Sazegara describes the Revolutionary Guards Corps as something like a blend of the Communist Party, KGB, business complex, and Mafia all in one organization. The Revolutionary Guards Corps could be compared to the Nazi Death heads who ran the over 2,000 death camps during the reign of Adolf Hitler. The masses are controlled by a demagogue. The Supreme Leader, who's true mission is only known to his inner circle, the leaders of the Revolutionary Guards, otherwise known as the Quds Force. Some experts believe the Revolutionary Guard Corps was created as a counterweight to the regular military, to protect the revolution against a possible coup. By establishing the Revolutionary Guard Corps Khomeini was attempting to avoid a repeat of a successful coup in 1953 that ousted a previous revolutionary government. The Revolutionary Guard Corps began deploying fighter abroad during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), the Quds Force, the paramilitary arm of the Revolutionary Guard Corps with 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers emerged as the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Revolutionary Guards Corps is the spine of the current political structure in Iran, and is also a major player in the Iranian economy, a state within a state. The Guards are an exclusive fraternity, almost a rite of passage for Iranian men with political ambitions, former Revolutionary Guards officers hold a majority in Iran's 290 seat parliament. It has been estimated that the Revolutionary Guards Corps now has ties to more than one hundred companies that controls roughly 12 billion in construction and engineering capital since give the task of re-building Iran after the decade long Iraq-Iran War. Iran's Supreme Leader has been described as Iran's Supreme Investor and the Revolutionary Guards Corps as the primary share holders.


The Attack on the Marine Headquarters

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Marine Headquarters after the blast that took place on October 23, 1983, killing 241 American Marines.Marine Headquarters before the blast that forced American troops to leave Lebanon. The blast seen from 5 miles away.The blast from over 15 miles away.
Marine Headquarters after the blast that took place on October 23, 1983, killing 241 American Marines.
Marine Headquarters after the blast that took place on October 23, 1983, killing 241 American Marines. | Source
Marine Headquarters before the blast that forced American troops to leave Lebanon.
Marine Headquarters before the blast that forced American troops to leave Lebanon. | Source
The blast seen from 5 miles away.
The blast seen from 5 miles away. | Source
The blast from over 15 miles away.
The blast from over 15 miles away. | Source

The Bomb

The bomb's explosive mechanism was a gas-enhanced device consisting of compressed butane in canisters combined with pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PENT) to create a fuel-air explosive. The bomb was carried on a layer of concrete covered with a slab or marble to direct the blast upward. The bomb was so powerful that the force of the explosion initially lifted the entire four-story structure, shearing the bases of the concrete support columns, each measuring fifteen feet in circumference and reinforced by numerous one-and-three-quarter-inch steel rods. The airborne building fell in upon itself. A massive shock wave and ball of flaming gas was hurled outward in all directions. The explosion was estimated to be equivalent to 21,000 pounds of TNT. The bomb is believed to be the largest man-made, non-nuclear explosion in history. The suicide bomber needed a Mercedes Benz water truck to deliver the bomb.

Iran's Chain of Command

The Revolutionary Guard Corps and its chain of Command.
The Revolutionary Guard Corps and its chain of Command. | Source

The Iranian Revolution and the Hostage Crisis in 1979

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American hostage from the American Embassy in Tehran Iran. The American Embassy is now the Headquarters for the Quds Force.Iranian revolutionaries burning the American flag atop the American Embassy in Tehran 1979.Exiled cleric Ayatollah Khomeini the first Supreme Leader of Iran in 1979.
American hostage from the American Embassy in Tehran Iran. The American Embassy is now the Headquarters for the Quds Force.
American hostage from the American Embassy in Tehran Iran. The American Embassy is now the Headquarters for the Quds Force. | Source
Iranian revolutionaries burning the American flag atop the American Embassy in Tehran 1979.
Iranian revolutionaries burning the American flag atop the American Embassy in Tehran 1979. | Source
Exiled cleric Ayatollah Khomeini the first Supreme Leader of Iran in 1979.
Exiled cleric Ayatollah Khomeini the first Supreme Leader of Iran in 1979. | Source

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the Future of the Middle East

The movie Argo gives the American public a feel for what it was like to live during the hostage crisis of 1979. The Iranian Revolution was similar in some ways to the student protests that swept through American campuses during the Vietnam War in the 1960s, but with a blend of newfound religious identity and Marxism. There was one major difference between the American student protests during the Vietnam War and the student protests in Iranian revolution in 1979, the students won the battle and took over the government. The world changed overnight and Americans were glued to their television sets watching the events unfold right before their very eyes. Americans watched as the exiled cleric Ayatollah Khomeini arrived at the airport in Tehran greeted by millions of Iranians, then the young revolutionary government made him the leader of their new revolution. Khomeini would support the hostage takers at the American Embassy and declared that America was the Great Satan. Since that day in history, the United States and Iran have been fighting an undeclared war which still goes on to this day. Iran is attempting to challenge the world for the Middle East and the Persian Gulf which holds 55% of the world's oil reserves. Iran has now reached a point where it has access to modern weapons and the experience to plan and carry out its strategy. Iran with its advanced missiles positioned along the Persian Gulf have the capability to shut off Gulf exports in a matter of minutes. The game has changed and the United States and the world need to rethink its strategy. Iran's missile program continues to pose a serious threat to the Persian Gulf, it has the largest and most diverse ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East. There is a possibility Iran could have clandestinely acquired two 40-Kiloton warheads from Kazakhstan after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Iran's secretive Quds Force is becoming more active in Iraqi soldiers and militias battling the Islamic State terrorist group. Elite Quds Force members were on the ground in August 2014, when Iraqi forces recaptured the strategically important Mosul Dam from Islamic State fighters, aided by U.S. strike aircraft which provided close-air support. The battle for Mosul Dam in northern Iraq is the first time American forces have fought together with Iran since the hostage crisis in 1979. During the U.S. occupation of Iraq from 2003-2011, the Quds force trained Iraqi Shiite extremists who attacked and killed thousands of U.S. troops. The fear is that the crisis in Iraq will only strengthen and increase the influence of Iran and the Revolutionary Guards Corps throughout the Middle East. A so-called Shiite crescent has been forged stretching from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria the will only further isolate Israel. The leaders of the Quds Force have a lot of American blood on their hands. They have been involved in the Syrian conflict from the beginning and now provide the money and weapons along with Russia to keep Assad alive. Iranian agents have been seen at Syria's chemical weapons sites collecting intelligence, which could be used in future attacks against the west and its allies. What an odd couple America and Iran make as we work together to destroy the Islamic State terror organization.

China could be supplying Hypersonic Weapons to Iran

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Iran's nuclear sites.Iran's military bases.
Iran's nuclear sites.
Iran's nuclear sites. | Source
Source
Source
Iran's military bases.
Iran's military bases. | Source

BrahMos Hyper-Sonic Cruise Missile

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The BrahMos Missile launched from Indian Navy's guided-missile destroyer.BrahMos missiles of the Indian Army, mounted on Mobile Autonomous Launchers  (MAL).The BrahMos Missile for sale at an Arms trade show.The BrahMos can reach speeds at speeds of Mach 2.8 to 3.0.
The BrahMos Missile launched from Indian Navy's guided-missile destroyer.
The BrahMos Missile launched from Indian Navy's guided-missile destroyer. | Source
BrahMos missiles of the Indian Army, mounted on Mobile Autonomous Launchers  (MAL).
BrahMos missiles of the Indian Army, mounted on Mobile Autonomous Launchers (MAL). | Source
The BrahMos Missile for sale at an Arms trade show.
The BrahMos Missile for sale at an Arms trade show. | Source
The BrahMos can reach speeds at speeds of Mach 2.8 to 3.0.
The BrahMos can reach speeds at speeds of Mach 2.8 to 3.0. | Source

Iran's Vast Military Machine

The military threat from Iran is real and it keeps the American Military up at night, China possibly has supplied Iran with Hypersonic weapons that are capable of sinking aircraft carriers. The development of hypersonic weapons is comparable to the emergence of atomic weapons in the late 1950s. The beauty of Hypersonic weapons is that they can perform hypersonic precision strikes while maintaining a relatively low altitude and flat trajectory, making it far less venerable to anti- missile defenses.

Sources

Anderson Scott. LAWRENCE IN ARABIA : War, Deceit Imperial Folly and The Making Of The Modern Middle East . Random House New York, New York USA. 2013

Ansari Ali M. Confronting Iran : The Failure Of American Foreign Policy And The Next Great Conflict In The Middle East. Perseus Book Group & Basic Books 387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016.



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