Yemen and Iran

A displaced Yemeni boy is seen at a refugee camp located between Marib and Sanaa, Yemen March 29, 2018.  (photo credit: ALI OWIDHA/ REUTERS)
A displaced Yemeni boy is seen at a refugee camp located between Marib and Sanaa, Yemen March 29, 2018.
(photo credit: ALI OWIDHA/ REUTERS)
The recent talks regarding a cessation of hostilities in Yemen, held in Sweden between the indirect representatives of Iran and Saudi Arabia, represent Sweden’s desire to mediate international conflicts and promote its image as a humanitarian power. Nonetheless, the implications of Sweden’s foreign policy go beyond the intent of serving “the goals of peace.”
To initiate the process, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström supported her country and other European states in an effort to promote commercial ties with Iran, thus evading American sanctions. Wallström met with Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araghchi in Stockholm, who attended the fourth round of Iran-Sweden political consultations.
The confidence of the Swedish tran sitional government demonstrates not only that the Nordic state is seeking to advocate an independent policy, but also that it is ignoring Iranian-funded activities within Sweden. This view echoes a similar scenario in the past in which, during the Cold War, there was a disagreement in the Swedish government between the political echelon and the intelligence service. Even then, the Swedish intelligence service was apprehensive of the political class’s policies and views.
In present day, this phenomenon has only exacerbated, as government decisions are made despite covert activities carried out in Sweden by Iranian-sponsored groups. Iran’s unprecedented funding for hidden cells throughout Europe has not overlooked Sweden, which boasts a diverse immigrant population that includes Shi’ites. A recent example of such covert activity was the failed attempt in Denmark, by a hit team made up of Scandinavian citizens with Iranian origin, to assassinate opponents of the Iranian regime.
An additional operational arm of the Shi’ite state in Sweden is the terrorist organization Hezbollah, which is further bolstered by a large Lebanese population which immigrated to Sweden following the civil war in Lebanon in the previous century. Within this context, Israeli security services identified that Hezbollah was attempting to use Lebanese immigrants in Sweden for their operational needs. One such individual was Hassan Khalil Hizran, a Swede of national Palestinian-Lebanese origin, who was recruited into Hezbollah but was quickly arrested in Israel.
Swedish security services are also aware of Hezbollah’s extensive activity in the country and its cooperation with Iran, which is building a database of potential targets. For the Iranian regime – which views Jewish communities as legitimate targets – the Shi’ite population is an imperative operational arm. Although the Swedish government is aware of Iran’s activity within its borders, they ignore it and, consequently, place the Jewish community in Sweden under increasing danger.
Despite actions of the Shi’ite state through Hezbollah, Sweden continues to promote Iranian policy and strengthen trade relations with them. The recent assault by a Palestinian on a synagogue in Gothenburg may eventually pale in comparison to an attempt of a wellplanned terrorist attack to harm Jewish institutions. If the Swedish government intends to protect its Jewish population, as promised, it should also refer to Iranian financing for such operations. Meanwhile, however, the Iranians continue to receive the highest state honor in Stockholm.
The writer is a PhD candidate at Bar-Ilan University.