In two recent television interviews on, Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of the Iranian regime’s Expediency Council – the body of senior officials appointed by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei – called for establishing an Islamic army to control security in the Middle East after U.S. forces withdraw from the region.
Rezaei, a former IRGC commander, underlined the Islamic Revolution of Iran’s vision of establishing a new world order, and said that the October 7, 2023 Hamas attacks on Israel were a sign of the defeat of all Western forces in the region. He also reiterated Iran’s call for expelling the U.S. from the Middle East, and accused it of complicity in “Israel’s crimes” against the Palestinian people, which he said were fanning antisemitism worldwide.
Like other senior Iranian officials, Rezaei repeated the Iranian regime’s position that Iran was not involved with or informed about the Hamas attack on October 7, but at the same time expressed pride in the operations being carried out by the Islamic resistance axis. He was referring to the attacks carried out by this axis – the Shi’ite militias that the regime established and armed, and uses for its own purposes – against U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria because of the bases’ “illegitimate” presence in the region.
Rezaei also called on the resistance forces to “prepare” for action: “At this time, when many resistance groups are turning [to enter the war in Gaza], our advice is: Maintain preparedness… Today it is important to prepare the forces before carrying out the operation.”
With regard to the political situation in the aftermath of the current Israel-Hamas war, Rezaei stressed, in both interviews, the Iranian regime’s position opposing the two-state solution proposed by the West.
Reflecting the apprehension in Iran regarding a buildup of the U.S. military presence in the Middle East, Rezaei stated that Iran is not involved in the attacks on U.S. bases carried out by its proxies, the Shi’ite militias in Iraq and Syria, but at the same time warned that the war could expand to other arenas. In this way, Iran is trying deter the U.S. from responding to the attacks on its forces, and at the same time to urge it to force a ceasefire on Israel in order to save its proxy Hamas.
The following are the main points of Rezaei’s televised interviews, on Al-Jazeera on October 31 and on Iranian television on November 1, 2023:
Rezaei In Al-Jazeera Interview, October 31, 2023: “America And Israel Will Not Win Against The Resistance Axis And Its Innovative Methods”; The World Must Stop Netanyahu And Biden”
In his interview with Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based and -funded pro-Hamas network, on October 31, Rezaei warned that the issue of Gaza “could spread throughout the region, and even become an international challenge.” He added: “Israel has declared that this is a fateful war, and America is standing alongside these criminals with all its might. CENTCOM and the commander of the American forces in the Middle East are at an Israeli base in south Tel Aviv, and together they are waging the war against the residents of Gaza.
“Israel is responsible for the air and ground activity, and America has built a maritime shield for Israel in the Mediterranean. This is a huge war that could last a long time and have regional dimensions, even international ones. The reason for this crisis is America’s and Israel’s insistence on continuing this war and rejecting a ceasefire.”
“Has Israel achieved its goals, and will it destroy Hamas?”
Rezaei: “The Israeli commanders have no knowledge and experience with popular wars, and their defeat [in the fighting against Hizbullah] in southern Lebanon shows this. In order to cover up the scandal [Hamas’s October 7 invasion of Israel and massacre of civilians], they are trying to escalate the war, and the residents of the world who are wise must stop both these rebels, [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and [U.S. President Joe] Biden. Ultimately, America and Israel will not win against the resistance axis and its innovative methods.”
“Iran did not know about this [October 7] operation, and the Palestinian resistance decided to act on its own. Iran does not dismiss its friends, like the West does, and it is full of esteem for them [i.e. all the members of the resistance axis], for their character, and for their freedom [of action given to them by Iran].
“Since the beginning of the Islamic Revolution [in 1979], we have maintained a firm and serious stance on the Palestinian issue [i.e. rejection of Israel’s existence], while everyone is witness to the fact that in the recent period, some of the Islamic countries are harboring intentions of rapprochement and normalization with Israel. Our permanent position, and our proposal, is to create a Palestinian state through democratic process, by holding elections and drawing up a constitution. But as long as this goal is not achieved, the Palestinians must defend themselves [by force] and now Iran is on the political front line of supporting them.
“Now, three [IDF] divisions were captured by Hizbullah in northern Lebanon, and three divisions on the West bank, and three mixed divisions in the south, in the war in Gaza. Palestinian groups and Hizbullah have created a joint room that they believe must lead the resistance against the Zionist regime.”
“Will there be Iranian military activity and involvement in response to the Zionist crimes in Gaza?”
Rezaei: “The issue is not only Gaza. America is looking for excuses, and exploiting this issue, in order to return to Western Asia [i.e. the Middle East]. They [the Americans] failed in Iraq and Syria, and feel that they have lost Western Asia. They apparently will distance themselves from the two other fronts, that is, Ukraine and Taiwan, and will prioritize the third front, that is, Western Asia. They could even aspire to establish new bases in Jordan, the Sinai, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf. It is the Americans who are expanding the war. We cannot tolerate their exploitation of the Gaza issue in this way for this purpose, and this [Iran’s entering the Gaza war] will depend on the Americans and their movements, and on whether [America] wants to go to war with the Islamic countries, which are no longer what they once were [i.e. no longer weak].”
“Has America sent a direct message to Iran about the war?”
Rezaei: “The Americans have made several moves, and they have no right to send messages at all, while yesterday [October 30] we were informed that the drones and American navy were helping the Israeli army in the Mediterranean, and it appears that they have no intention [of agreeing] to a ceasefire.”
“Will America’s involvement in the region continue, and will it lead to Iran’s entering the war?”
Rezaei: “We are trying to cooperate with the friendly countries and neighbors, such as Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Egypt, and my proposal is to establish an Islamic army to control security in the region.”
Rezaei: “The Era Of Normalizing Relations [With Israel] Has Ended, And A New Order Will Be Created In The Region; If America Leaves Syria And Iraq, It Will Not Be Attacked”
Commenting on the Al-Jazeera interviewer’s statement that some countries believe war with Israel is pointless and are turning a two-state solution for the Palestinian cause, Rezaei said:
“Talking about two states [Israel and Palestine] is over. Once Israel wants to enter Gaza, this issue is no longer relevant [that is, along with negating Israel’s right to exist, Rezaei is talking about a single Palestinian state established on the ruins of Israel]. Can Arab governments stay silent during an uprising of the Islamic ummah? The era of normalizing relations [with Israel] has ended, and a new order will be created in the region. The question is whether this new order will built by America or China and Russia or the countries in the region. In our opinion, the countries of the region can administer the region and ensure its security by themselves.”
On the attacks carried out by the resistance factions of the Iranian axis against U.S. bases in the region, Rezaei said: “We are not involved in those attacks. This is the retaliation of the resistance front itself, a response to the creation of problems in the region and the occupation of oil-rich areas in Syria, and the aiding of the crimes in Gaza. If America leaves Syria and Iraq, it will not be attacked.
“The U.S. presence is currently intended [to ensure] the success of Israel’s war, and they want to achieve even a small victory in Gaza. But ultimately [this presence] is intended to ensure [its] continued presence in Western Asia. The resistance in Gaza cannot be destroyed, and they [the resistance] can defend themselves. Israel is throwing itself into the lion’s mouth with its ground attack [on Gaza], and I am certain that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ] can defeat the Zionist regime.”
“Is there a possibility that Hizbullah will enter the war?”
Rezaei: “I don’t know anything about this, but anything is possible. Recent issues and Israel’s insane attacks in Gaza and subsequent behavior will affect this matter.”
Rezaei: “We Consider Hamas And The PIJ To Be Official, Popular, And Legitimate Organizations That Should Be Recognized By The International Community – We Kiss Their Hands”
On statements by Prime Minister Netanyahu at a press conference in which he called Iran and Hamas the axis of evil, Rezaei said: “Those words from Netanyahu reminded us of [U.S. President George W.] Bush’s statements after he ordered the attack on Afghanistan and Iraq, when the U.S. military leadership opposed his orders to attack Iran and stopped him from doing so. America knows that Iran is not Afghanistan and Iraq, and Biden, too, can do nothing [against Iran].
“We cannot tolerate the occupation of another part of Palestine, and this is one of our fundamental red lines. We consider Hamas and the PIJ to be official, popular, and legitimate organizations that should be recognized by the international community. We kiss the hands [of members of the resistance] who defend the life, property, and honor of the Palestinian people.
“As this trend continues, the future of the region will be chaotic, and those people [i.e. the Americans] who are ignorant of military and political matters should know that our world is very different that it was 50 years ago. We have no limitations when it comes to protecting our country and our nation, as we have proven many times. Today, Iran’s defense capability is higher than even five years ago, and we have weapons that have not yet been revealed. I suggest to America and Netanyahu that they accept the ceasefire…”
On doubts and rumors of Iran’s “avarice” in the region, Rezaei said: “We have proven our goodwill over the last 45 years, and these rumors are what America and Israel say to a few friendly Arab countries to prevent kinship and unity among Muslims in the region.”
Rezaei In Iranian TV Interview, November 1, 2023: “As The Palestinian Intifada Continues, We Will Witness The Emergence Of An Islamic Army”
In a November 1, 2023 interview on the “To Palestine’s Horizon” show, Rezaei, in army uniform, said that an international anti-Zionist movement will arise due to the crimes committed by the U.S. and Israel against the Palestinian people. He added that as the Palestinian intifada continues, an Islamic army will be established. Stating that antisemitism is on the rise worldwide because of the U.S. defense of Israel, he claimed that “even Hitler” did not commit the “crimes” that Israel does. He also stressed that his wearing of his uniform “means that we are prepared for war and do not fear it, but we also do not aspire to war.”
His main points were as follows:
“Establishing an Islamic army is certainly possible, but 10 years ago there was no such possibility. The events in Gaza and the violence of the Israelis are prompting the Islamic countries to take action.
“The Americans are very afraid that China, Russia, or Iran will fill the vacuum in Western Asia, and there are three possible paths in this matter. The first is that America leaves the region while Russia and China enter [in its place]. The second is that it stays and becomes embroiled with these countries. The third option is finding another solution [i.e. Iran takes control, in the name of Islam and the Islamic Revolution].
“Biden and Netanyahu’s biggest mistake was thinking that the Islamic countries are the same as they once were. While [the Islamic countries] did not give [the U.S. and Israel] a definitive response, their position is better than before. As the Palestinian intifada continues, we will witness the emergence of an Islamic army.
“The events in Gaza are not just about Gaza. Gaza is the key to sequential events throughout the region, for years to come. Now all eyes are on that territory of 300 square kilometers, or two million people.”
Rezaei: “I Predict That The Americans Will Strengthen Their Bases In Eastern Syria, Western Iraq, Jordan, And The Sinai Desert”
He continued: “Biden and Netanyahu joined forces in order to save Israel and America. Netanyahu himself said that if they [Israel] fail [in this war] they are finished. America supports Israel in order to also save itself. If America retreats from this war and it reaches the Gulf of Oman from Western Asia, its industry will collapse.
“For 80 years, the Americans would not leave this region. The only place they did not let the occupation end after World War II is this exact area of Palestine…
“One of the important reasons why America came to Israel’s aid is oil, and if the countries in the region become industrialized, they will have no oil to export. Therefore, they must be prevented [from progressing], and the main life source of Western industry is Western Asian oil.
“The next issue that keeps America from abandoning the region of Western Asia is the pressure that America and Britain can exert on China and Russia. The Americans withdrew from Iraq and Afghanistan in shame. Now they want to try their luck again and return to the region. I predict that the Americans will strengthen their bases in eastern Syria, western Iraq, Jordan, and the Sinai, because unless it stays in Western Asia, America will not be what it once was.
“Two wars are taking place in Gaza now. A war against the [Palestinian] people and a war against the [Palestinian resistance] forces. In the war against the people [of Gaza], 9,000 [civilians] have been killed, and a few of the [Palestinian] fighters were killed. In the past few hours, 140 Israelis were killed in the war with the [Palestinian] fighters, and if the war ends now, will Israel go back to the way things were?
“Israel’s entering into a ground war against the resistance forces is foolish. It will be caught in the quagmire of the forces of the Palestinian popular resistance. The overall philosophy of the people’s war is that Israel will be stuck in a large swamp. Weren’t they [Israeli hostages] being held by the Palestinians inside tanks and behind barricades? Therefore, by entering a ground war, Israel will shamefully fail, and face a big disaster in the war with the [Palestinian] fighters, and the Christian and non-Muslim countries won’t be able to do a thing…”
Rezaei: “Even Hitler Did Not Do Such Things… Antisemitism Is On The Rise; Well, The Reason For All This Is The Americans Themselves”
“An international anti-Zionist movement will awaken in the world, and the people will be its organizers. This movement will be created across the nations due to the tremendous crimes that took place – even Hitler did not do such things. Recent reports from the past few weeks say that antisemitism is on the rise. Well, the reason for all this is the Americans themselves, so how can they claim to defend the Jews?
“At this time, when many resistance groups are turning [to enter the war in Gaza], our advice is: Maintain preparedness. Of course, holding conferences is a good thing, and also [Iranian President Ebrahim] Raisi has adopted positive stances while obeying the [instructions of] the Leader [Khamenei]. Today it is important to prepare the forces before carrying out the operation.
“When we liberated [the city of] Khorramshahr [in 1982], Israel attacked southern Lebanon. We traveled with the martyr Sayyad Shirazi [military commander in the Iran-Iraq war who was assassinated by the Mujahideen Khalq organization in 1999] and with Motevaselian [one of the Iranian diplomats who disappeared in Beirut in 1982] to Syria and met with [Syrian president Hafez] Al-Assad. When we returned [to Iran], the Imam [Khomeini] said: ‘We do not want to enter into a war because [while] the path to [liberating] Jerusalem goes through Karbala, you need to be trained.’
“[The U.S. and its allies] claim that Iran is the cause of the insecurity [in the world]. Obviously they aspire to another goal. They want to save Netanyahu with the excuse that the region is not secure and that Iran is a threat. [Therefore,] America needs to reinforce its bases in the region.”  The Expediency Council, established in 1988, is a supreme body to resolve disputes between the Majlis (the legislative authority) and the Guardian Council (which has the authority to dismiss Majlis legislation). It also serves as an advisory body to the Supreme Leader and is another tool for control at his disposal. Iran proposes the elimination of Israel as a state by means of a “democratic” vote by all the Palestinians inside Israel and in the Palestinian diaspora, and by the small number of Jews who lived there under the British Mandate prior to 1948.  It should be noted that, according to the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, it was Iran that decided to establish a joint control room for the various militias in the resistance axis. According to that report, Iran manages a joint operations room for the Iran-backed militias in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, as well as Hamas, and has drawn up a plan for attacking Israel whose detail are not yet known to all its partners. The report on the establishment of the joint operations room was confirmed by the Hizbullah-affiliated Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, and by the Arabicpost news outlet. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 10888, Arab News Sites: Iran Running Joint Resistance Axis Operations Room; Plans To Open Up Syrian Front Against Israel; Shi’ite Militias In Iraq Threaten To Escalate Attacks On U.S. Targets In Iraq, Syria, October 19, 2023.  Tasnimnews.com/fa, October 31, 2023.  Tasnimnews.com/fa, November 1, 2023.