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The Embassy War or the Spy Nest War

2024-04-17 20:18

Issam Khoury

israel, #InternationalRelations, #Geopolitics , #EmbassyWar , #MiddleEastEspionage , #DiplomaticConflict , #IranIsraelRelations , #CovertOperations , #Iran,

The Embassy War or the Spy Nest War

Explore the "Embassy War": A look at how diplomatic sites double as military hubs in Middle East espionage and conflict.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian tweeted on April 1, 2024, via Twitter platform: "The Swiss ambassador has been summoned as a representative of American interests in Iran, and America is held responsible for the attack on the Iranian consulate as it is an ally of Israel.[1]"








Israel's attacks on Iranian interests in Syria have been ongoing for many years, but on the first of April 2024, its strongest attack in terms of impact occurred when it targeted a building adjacent to the Iranian consulate and parts of the consulate's compound. This signifies a clear violation of a diplomatic facility classified under international laws as part of Iranian territory, despite being outside the borders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.


Also killed in this attack were key Iranian leaders who had coordinated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad for attacks on Israeli settlements near Gaza on October 7, 2023. They were (Mohammad Reza Zahedi, Mohammad Hadi Hajirahimi, Mahdi Jalalti, Hossein Amanollahi, Mohsen Sadeghat, Ali Agha Babaei, and Ali Salehi Rouzbehani). Additionally, nine other individuals were killed in this attack, including six Syrians, one of whom had ties between the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Syrian State Security branch.


Mohammad Reza Zahedi is considered the top coordinator of the Quds Force, affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, in Syria and Lebanon, where he has held several leadership positions since joining the Iranian Basij forces in his twenties.


Zahedi played an important role in structuring the military wing of Hezbollah at the behest of Qassem Soleimani and Ahmed al-Kazemi, and Hajj Imad Mughniyeh was very close to Zahedi, together outlining the structuring of tunnels passing from the Qalamoun areas towards the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.


After the Revolutionary Guard's assurance of Imad Mughniyeh's activities, Zahedi returned to Iran in 2005 to take over the leadership of the "Vengeance of God" base affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard with the aim of managing the security of Tehran province. On January 21, 2006, after the plane carrying Ahmed Kazemi, the commander of the ground forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, crashed and was killed in the incident, Mohammad Reza Zahedi was tasked to be the replacement in the leadership of the ground forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.


In February/November 2008, the prominent military leader of Hezbollah, Imad Mughniyeh, was assassinated in the Syrian capital, Damascus. This assassination had a significant impact on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, as many Iranians doubted that the Syrian security apparatus was infiltrated by the Israelis. Therefore, Qasem Soleimani tasked Mohammad Reza Zahedi with managing the Syrian-Lebanese files once again.


Zahedi's tasks in Lebanon and Syria were to ensure the loyalty of followers to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. He worked on two main aspects:


  • The popular aspect, with the main goal of gaining popular acceptance for Iran by providing a range of services, including:
    1.  Strengthen the role of Iranian cultural centers in Syrian cities.
    2. Building "Husseiniyat" mosques that provide financial aid to the poor in Lebanon and Syria.
    3. Increase scholarships for studying at Iranian universities.


  • The security aspect, this part aims to get rid of elements not loyal to Tehran, and among the prominent steps:
    1. Marginalize the prominent security role of Brigadier Asef Shawkat, by dismissing him from the Military Intelligence Division, promoting him to the rank of brigadier, and linking him to the Chief of Staff, which is an administrative position with no impact in a security state like Syria.
    2. Limit the powers of the Military Intelligence Division in Syria and place the highest security leadership in the hands of the Syrian State Security branch, affiliated with Iranian intelligence.
    3. Intensify training missions for Syrian security elements in Tehran.
    4. Transfer the files of Palestinian elements affiliated with Hamas to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
    5. Sow discord among the Lebanese March 14 Alliance team, paving the way for their political and security marginalization.
    6. Zahedi joining the Hezbollah Lebanese Shura Council[2], to ensure the Revolutionary Guard's control over all party decisions.


Historically, Hamas was part of the Muslim Brotherhood organization and has always received support from the Arab wing that supports the Palestinians. Syria was a center for logistical and training support for these elements, while the Islamic Jihad organization was affiliated with Tehran. Gradually, Zahedi succeeded in building trust channels with Hamas and later assigned military advisor Mohammad Hadi Hajji Rahimi to manage Hamas affairs.


Imad Mughniyeh, before his assassination, was tasked by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to dig a tunnel network in southern Syria similar to those in southern Lebanon. However, this project was stalled after his death, and Zahedi failed to revive it due to the outbreak of the Syrian revolution. Iranian advisors continued to visit the Israeli-Syrian border sites, and when Shiite militias took control of a wide area of Syrian regime territories, fighters were deployed from south of Damascus to Quneitra, indicating that the tunnel project near the Israeli border was still on the minds of the Iranians.


This reality was understood by Tel Aviv, so it focused its attacks more on Shiite militias than on the Syrian army units. It declared the slogan "the necessity of the Iranian forces leaving Syrian territories" because the presence of Iranian proxies near the Israeli border is a clear threat to Israeli national security. Overall, these facts make the observer of the Middle Eastern scene feel that reconciliation channels between Tel Aviv and Tehran are impossible. Even if Washington wanted to calm both sides before the US elections in November 2024, it is not capable, which threatens to ignite the northern front of Israel.


Iranian diplomacy has been unable to embarrass Israel, as Iranians have a history of targeting diplomatic missions. In 1979, Iranians seized the US embassy in Tehran[3], holding 52 Americans hostage. Additionally, the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad group targeted the Israeli embassy in the Argentine capital[4] on March 17, 1992. 


The killing of seven Iranian generals inside the Iranian consulate in Damascus at the same time proved that this consulate is an advanced military operations room for Tehran in Syrian territories, and it has evolved into a high-level espionage den flying the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran, far from the standards of diplomatic work aimed at protecting the interests of Iranian citizens in Syrian territories.




[1] X, @Amirabdolahian, April 01, 2024
H.Amirabdollahian امیرعبداللهیان on X: "در پی حمله تروريستی رژيم اسراییل به ساختمان ديپلماتيك کنسولگری جمهوري اسلامي ايران در دمشق و شهادت چند تن از مستشاران رسمی نظامي كشورمان، مقام سفارت سوييس بعنوان حافظ منافع امريكا در ایران، ساعت ۰۰:۴۵ بامداد امروز (سه‌شنبه) توسط مديركل امريكا به وزارت خارجه فراخوانده شد. در این…" / X (twitter.com)


[2] Iran military leader killed in Syria was member of Hezbollah’s Shura Council, source says, Middle East Monitor, April 9, 2024


[3] The Office of the Historian, The Iranian Hostage Crisis



[4] AIPAC, The Bombing of the Jewish Center in Buenos Aires, 26 Years On: Handiwork of Iran’s Global Reach


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