The Head of the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization is Replaced

The Head of the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization is Replaced


The Head of the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization is Replaced 

The longtime head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Intelligence Organization Hossein Taeb was removed from his post on Thursday. He was replaced by Brigadier General Mohammad Kazemi, who previously led the IRGC’s Intelligence Protection Organization, focused on the IRGC’s internal security. This comes amid multiple assassinations in Iran and sabotage incidents. Axios reported that Taeb had been under pressure to execute a successful terrorist operation in Turkey, and that Iran’s leadership was considering removing him at the time. The Wall Street Journal separately reported, citing an IRGC advisor and a U.S. official, that after the death of the late Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, Taeb “had become one of the main contacts in the IRGC with pro-Iranian militias in Iraq.” Please click here for a UANI analysis on Taeb’s career and the next steps for the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization.  


Rocket Attack Targets Dana Gas 

Two separate rocket attacks this week—one on Wednesday and the other on Fridaytargeted the Khor Mor gas field, which is run by the UAE-based Dana Gas company in Sulaimani’s Chamchamal district. The Khor Mor gas field has also been financed by the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation. These incidents come amid an uptick in Iran-backed militia attacks in the Kurdistan Region.

Iraqi Parliament Members Replaced After Sadr Resignations 

On Thursday, Iraq’s parliament swore in dozens of new legislators, who took the seats of 73 lawmakers affiliated with the parliamentary bloc of Muqtada al-Sadr, who all resigned amid a stalemate in government formation despite coming in first in the last parliamentary elections. This strengthened the hold of Iran-backed factions in the parliament. Now, these new legislators will begin forming a government. But there is the risk of renewed street protests by Sadr allies, with the potential for further instability in the months ahead.  

Israel and the Palestinian Territories 

Turkey Arrests Iranian Cell Planning Terror Attacks Against Israelis 

Turkish police detained several suspects last week under suspicion of planning targeted attacks on Israeli diplomats and tour groups in Istanbul. Turkey's intelligence agency had received a tip that Iranian intelligence agents and local collaborators were plotting numerous kidnappings and attacks on Israeli targets, including a former Israeli ambassador and his wife. Nearly ten suspects, including Iranian intelligence agents and Revolutionary Guards disguised as students and businesspeople, were detained in a police operation last Friday. The suspects, who were not all Iranian nationals, were detained in a raid last week in three houses in Istanbul's popular Beyoglu district.

Iran on Friday dismissed as "ridiculous" allegations by Israel's foreign minister while on a visit to Ankara that the Islamic Republic was planning anti-Israeli attacks in Turkey. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh called the “baseless accusations” a “part of a pre-designed plot to destroy relations between the two Muslim countries.” Khatibzadeh said Tehran expected Turkey “not to remain silent in the face of these divisive allegations.”

U.S., Israel Hold Joint Training Exercise Simulating Escalation with Hezbollah 

Israel and the United States held a joint military exercise over the past week to assess the readiness of both countries to cope with security challenges, particularly a military escalation on Israel's northern front. The main scenario for this week's drill involved an escalation in the north and its regional implications, including Iranian involvement alongside Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The scenarios were discussed in a meeting in Israel between senior officers in the U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, and the Israel Defense Forces. The Americans and the Israelis coordinated joint action plans for intelligence, air defense, and logistical assistance.

There was no discussion, however, of the possibility of active U.S. involvement in Israeli attacks on the Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon. While the United States considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization, it will not take an active part in Israeli warfare against it. Each side presented its perspective on the possible events and the dilemmas they would face. The delegation also discussed emergency cooperation, in the event of an escalation. The U.S. military has large emergency depots in the country, from which Israel would be allowed to borrow equipment with U.S. consent in the event of war.


Hamas, Assad to Restore Ties 

The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has decided to restore ties with Syria, 10 years after its leadership shunned Damascus over opposition to President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on a revolt against his rule, two sources within the group told Reuters. One official who asked not to be named said the two sides have held several "high-profile meetings to achieve that goal." 

Moves toward rapprochement between the estranged allies are not recent or new. Last year, pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar reported that high-level officials in Hamas had decided on restoring ties with the Assad regime. 

Relatedly, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh led a delegation to Beirut to meet with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. Reports revealed little on the content of the meeting beyond the most basic, but tellingly the two sat beneath large portraits of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his predecessor Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The Lebanese and Hezbollah flags were displayed at the meeting, but those of Palestine and Hamas were not.