What It’s About: Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been the focus of the international community for roughly a decade, but while the West has counted centrifuges to track enrichment levels, the Islamic Republic has slowly expanded its reach across the Middle East. In the south of the Arabian Peninsula, the Houthis are Iran’s proxy in Yemen; on the edge of the Mediterranean, Hamas receives training, funding and direction from Iran in its rocket war against Israel; Lebanon continues to host the Iranian proxy Hezbollah, which is also deployed to Syria where it continues to fight on behalf of the murderous Assad regime. Iran has also deployed Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) to fight for Assad, while also inserting them into Iraq’s security apparatus, posing a threat to that country’s stability. These three territories, now controlled in various degrees by Iranian proxies, constitute what is now called the “Shi’ite Crescent.” Dr. Schanzer will talk about Iran’s aim in those territories, and what the Mullahs can do once they are interconnected and operationalized.
Presenter: Dr. Jonathan Schanzer is senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where he oversees the work of the organization’s experts and scholars. Dr. Schanzer previously worked as a terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he played an integral role in the designation of numerous terrorist financiers. He has written three books: State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State; Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine; and, Al-Qaeda’s Armies: Middle East Affiliate Groups and the Next Generation of Terror. In addition, Dr. Schanzer has authored hundreds of articles on the Middle East, testifies often before Congress, publishes widely in American and international media, and appears frequently on U.S. and Arabic language television.