Gen. Gholamali Rashid, commander of the Khatam Al-Anbiya Central Headquarters in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), recently revealed that Qods Corps commander 'Ali Soleimani said, three months before his assassination, that Iran has six armies outside its borders: Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Palestine, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in Iraq, Ansar Allah (i.e., the Houthis) in Yemen and the army of the Syrian regime, all of which have created deterrence in the service of Iran.
To watch a MEMRI TV clip of Rashid's statements, click below:
Rashid's statements apparently caused particular embarrassment to the Palestinian organizations, Hamas and the PIJ, and sparked intense criticism against them. for being by presenting them as mercenaries of the Iranian regime. While Hizbullah, Ansar Allah and the PMU remained silent and issued no denials or clarifications regarding Rashid's statements, Hamas and the PIJ felt compelled to respond. On September 29, after several days of silence, the PIJ issued an official response that stressed "the alliance with Iran in the struggle against the Zionist entity and the occupation of Palestine," but added that "the Palestinian people's resistance has existed since the establishment of the Zionist enterprise and the occupation of Palestine, and has nothing to do with any other goal." Hamas published a similar response, also after waiting several days. Its statement, issued September 30, underscored "the depth of the relations with Iran and [Hamas's] gratitude and appreciation towards it as one of the most prominent supporters of the Palestinian resistance," but clarified that this support was "part of the campaign of the entire [Islamic] nation against the Zionist occupation… and not part of any other campaign…" Furthermore, Hamas' leader abroad, Khaled Mash'al, clarified that "the Iranian support does not mean we are in its pocket. Our decision-making is patriotic and independent." 
Rashid's statements sparked a wave of criticism against the Iran-backed organizations in the Arab world, especially against Hamas and the PIJ. Many articles in the Arab press stated that the claim about the six Iranian armies was accurate and revealed the bitter truth: that Iran has infiltrated the Arab countries and established armies within them under the false pretext of waging resistance and liberating Jerusalem. His statements, said the articles, have thus removed the fig leaf from Hamas and the PIJ, who claim to be motivated by ideological goals and national loyalty, but are actually tools serving Iran's plans and interests.
Cartoon in London-based daily: The Iranian regime responsible for the destruction in "Yemen," "Iraq," "Syria" and "Lebanon" (Al-Arab, London, October 9, 2021)
The following are translated excerpts from articles in the Arab press criticizing Hamas and the PIJ in response to Soleimani's statements as quoted by Gholamali Rashid.
Palestinian Journalist: Hamas Is Collaborating With Iran In Tearing The Arab World Apart
'Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul, a columnist for the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, wrote on October 3, 2021: "The Iranian news agency Mehr removed [Rashid's] statement [from its website] because it caused embarrassment to certain elements, especially the MB-affiliated Hamas movement and the [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad. This prompted the Islamic Jihad to issue an official statement that boldly denied the Iranian commander's claims… Conversely, Hamas kept silent, believing that this statement -- which, incidentally, was not the first statement by Iranian officials on this issue -- would eventually be forgotten, and that responding to it would only spark debates and responses that would embarrass [Hamas] even more than the statement [itself]…
Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei and Hamas political bureau head Isma'il Haniya (Source: Palinfo.com, April 24, 2019)
"Iran and Hamas are playing a transparent game. Each of them invests in the relations with the other out of narrow, utilitarian goals, especially since Hamas's agenda places all its eggs in the basket of [Hamas'] parent organization, the MB…
"This does not rule out cooperation between the Iranian regime and the Palestine branch of the Muslim Brotherhood [i.e., Hamas]. They clearly coordinate at a high [level], because they have common goals, based on shattering the unity of the Arab countries and their peoples, albeit for different reasons. Iran does not provide services to the Muslim Brotherhood at random or purely out of affection. The Iranian leaders are no fools and are not so naïve as to throw away money for no reward…
"The Iranian commander's statement about the [six] armies deployed throughout the wide expanse of the Arab east, was not a random or an offhand statement… Rashid wanted to tell the Arab leaders even more than the U.S. and Israel: your head is in our hands and our 'Arab' [military] apparatuses can deliver a blow to you and your regimes. Therefore, you'd better rethink your policy and your considerations regarding Iran, and heed our dictates and preferences…
"Iran, hostile to the Arabs' national interests and to their aspirations and dreams, will not hesitate to sprinkle salt in [their] wounds and crush any spark of hope for a new era of cooperation between [Iran] and the Arab leaders of the Arabian Gulf and the rest of the Arab homeland, or [hope] for building bridges between the neighbors, who have a history of cooperation. It insists on behaving like a rogue state that, [just] like the U.S. and Israel, attacks the Arab countries and peoples, their natural and other resources, their future, their status and their enlightened national enterprise…"
Egyptian Journalist: The Iranian Statement Removed Hamas' And The PIJ's Fig Leaf, Destroyed Their Credibility
Egyptian journalist Muhammad Abu Al-Fadl wrote in his column in the London-based Emirati daily Al-Arab: "The connection between the Palestinian resistance and Tehran is partly known to us, but no matter how strong it is, nobody imagined that [Iran] would be so bold as to state that Hamas and the [Palestinian Islamic] Jihad are among its military tools in the area. This deprives them of the national role they have touted and detracts from the popular [support] they enjoy in the Arab street, where some still believe that the weapons of the resistance are the way to defend the Palestinian cause.
"I do not know what Iran intended [to achieve] with this statement [of Rashid's]. Did it mean to show Israel that it is closer to it than [Israel] imagined, or to stress that one of its proxies in the region, a faction of the Palestinian resistance, could cause Israel heavy losses if [Israel] dared to take military action [against Iran]? Or perhaps Iran was trying to expose the truth that Hamas and the PIJ have long been trying to conceal? Perhaps the statement was meant to achieve all of these objectives [at once]...
"[No matter what] the Iran was aiming at by implying [that Hamas and the PIJ] are subordinate to it, these movements have lost the fig leaf that hid [their shame] when they claimed that their cooperation with Tehran was ideologically-motivated and that the support they receive from Iran is for the sake of liberating Jerusalem…
"This statement increased the skepticism felt by some about the resistance and its hidden relations with Iran, and about the goals it seeks to achieve in the region, which have nothing to do with its major cause of liberating the land [of Palestine] or forcing Israel and the international community to agree to a viable Palestinian state. This development increases the distrust of the resistance -- [distrust] which emerged because its leaders strayed from its goals, and because it became divided and failed to heed the various efforts to mend [the rift between Hamas and Fatah]…
"[Rashid's] statements demonstrate that Iran is present in the heart of Gaza. This is a source of concern for Egypt, which keeps many of Gaza's keys in its hands in order to keep it from falling apart. [Egypt] acts to keep Hamas from turning Gaza into an Islamic mini-state that can recruit extremists from various areas in order turn [Gaza] into a back yard that Iran can use to pressure Israel, or perhaps to woo it…
"The interesting point is that both movements fell silent, fearing that Iran might expose many details that could embarrass them in front of the public that had trusted them and their ability to preserve Palestine's honor. [Until now] they presented the relations [with Iran] as relations of cooperation and coordination in which the Palestinian side is equal to Tehran, and in which, just as Iran supports them, they [in turn] assist it in achieving its goals as part of their shared interests…
"[The act of] removing the national guise of these two movements and associating [their activity] with serving Iran's goals… was a gift for Israel, valuable beyond its dreams, which will enable it to increase its pressure on the Palestinian resistance, whose national loyalty will now be easy to question."
Lebanese Journalist: The Iranian Statement Exposed The Bitter Truth: Iran Has Formed Arab Armies To Defend It, Under The Pretext Of Liberating Palestine
Lebanese journalist 'Ali Shandab wrote on September 30 in his column on the Al-Arabiya website: "The statements of Gen. Gholamali Rashid… are not trivial… On the contrary, they highlight the truth about the Iranian strategy in the region, and especially about its hidden perception of its armies and they way it cultivates them in order to use them [to its benefit]. These are armies that Iran established, trained, funded and armed so that they serve its agenda of Iranization, and indeed its supreme interest…
"The statements made by Gholamali Rashid did zero harm to Hizbullah… for [Hizbullah Secretary-General] Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly stated in public that he is a soldier in the army of the Jurisprudent [i.e., of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei]. Nasrallah regards this as an honor and it does not harm him… The position of the Houthis [on this issue] is probably similar to Nasrallah's…
"The real and excruciating embarrassment was felt by Hamas and the PIJ, especially after Gholamali Rashid presented them as mercenaries – as though they are nothing more than guns for hire, and do not fight for Palestine and Jerusalem but only for those who fund them, and that is why they thank [Iran], as they did following the latest Israeli aggression in Gaza [in May 2021], when [Hamas leader] Isma'il Haniya shouted himself horse through the megaphones in Doha, [Qatar], reciting weighty justifications for his relations with Iran…
"While Hamas kept silent [following] the statements of the Khatam Al-Anbiya commander,  the Islamic Jihad [movement] could not bear the humiliation and responded -- [albeit] in a timid statement, indicative of its real relationship with Tehran -- saying that its alliance with Iran is for the sake of confronting Israel and its occupation of Palestine, and has no other purpose. Gholamali Rashid's statements become even clearer [when seen in light of] this statement by the [Islamic] Jihad. Iran does not demand that its armies come to Iran to defend it, but [allows them] to defend it from wherever they are deployed. This is what Hamas did during the poisoned Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and elsewhere...
Khamenei, based on the principle of taqiyya, regards the resistance movements that belong to his camp as tools of his and as fuel for his uranium enrichment [program], according to what is required by [outcomes of] the Vienna talks [between Iran and the 5+1], not by the level of the conflict with the Israeli occupation.
"What Gholamali Rashid said has already been said in various ways by several [other] Iranian officials… Examples are the statement about [Iran's] takeover of four Arab capitals; the use of the name 'Persian Gulf' [instead of 'Arabian Gulf']; [the threat to] destroy Israel in seven and a half minutes, which was later withdrawn because the circumstances were unsuitable; [the claim] that they have 74 MPs in the Lebanese parliament, and the statement by Khamenei advisor Ali Akbar Velayati that Afghanistan under the Taliban is part of the resistance axis.
"The statements made by Gholamali Rashid and by other [Iranian officials] reflect the truth behind Iran's strategy, or rather [the strategy of] the Iranian empire, which reveals its claws each and every day. It employs a strategy of 'strategic patience' in order to achieve its goals, both hidden and known… The bitter truth is that what Soleimani said to Gholam is completely true. The gravity lies not in the statements [themselves] but in the fact that they are the bitter truth: Iran has managed to penetrate the Arab fabric and tear it apart. It used part of this fabric to form its armies and parties in the name of resistance and the liberation of Jerusalem and Palestine. And here they are, its mighty armies, its drones and its missiles, which fly in every direction and invade wherever and whenever they can – but [always] far from Jerusalem and Palestine."
 Rashid said this in a September 25, 2021 speech marking the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war. According to him, Soleimani said in a meeting with other Iranian commanders: "With the backing of the IRGC command, the army command, the general command of [Iran's] armed forces and the Defense Ministry, I have assembled for you six armies outside Iran's territory, and I have created a corridor 1,500 km long and 1,000 km wide, all the way to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. In this corridor, there are six religiously devout and popular divisions. Any enemy that decides to fight against the Islamic Revolution, and against the sacred regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran, will have to go through these six armies. It won't be able to do so. One army is in Lebanon. It is called Hizbullah. Another army is in occupied Palestine, and it is called Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. [Another] is in Syria, and [yet] another is in Iraq, and is called the PMU. Another army is in Yemen and is called Ansar Allah. This has created deterrence in the service of our dear Iran..." See MEMRI TV Clip No. 9099 – IRGC General Gholamali Rashid: Hizbullah In Lebanon, Hamas And PIJ In Palestine, PMU In Iraq, And The Houthis In Yemen Are All Armies Ready To Defend The Iranian Regime, September 25, 2021.
 Jehad.ps. September 29, 2021.
 Hamas.ps. September 30, 2021.
 Hamas.ps. September 30, 2021.
 For example, the foreign minister in the Yemeni government, which is fighting the Houthis movement, tweeted that Rashid's statement "stresses the role of the Iranian regime in creating the Houthi terror militia, in directing its coup against the state and in using it to implement [Iran's] expansion plan and its destructive policy in the region" (twitter.com/ERYANIM, September 27, 2021). In Lebanon, Samy-Gemayel, president of the Kataeb party, posted a tweet in which he asked Hizbullah's supporters in the country: "Does it please you to be designated as soldiers in an army that receives orders from a foreign country, and to have us all pay the price of considerations that have nothing to do with Lebanon?"… Twitter.com/samygemayel, September 30, 2021.
 As a matter of fact, the report on Rashid's statements is still available on the Mehr website and from other Iranian outlets, such as the Fars news agency.
 As stated above, Hamas actually issued a statement similar to the PIJ's. See hamas.ps, September 30, 2021.
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), October 3, 2021.
 Al-Arab (London), October 1, 2021.
 Hamas's response to Rashid's statements was published the same day as Shandab's article.
 A Shi'ite principle whereby believers are permitted to hide their true beliefs when facing a threat.
 See e.g., MEMRI Clip No. 4530, Iranian Analyst Mohammad Sadeq Al-Hosseini: We Are the New Sultans of the Mediterranean, the Gulf, and the Red Sea, September 24, 2014.
 This refers to a statement made by Qassem Soleimani following the June 2018 elections to the Lebanese parliament, in which Hizbullah and its supporters won 74 out of 128 seats. Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), June 12, 2018.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 9580 - Iranian Supreme Leader Advisor Ali Akbar Velayati: 'The Countries Of The Resistance Front Constitute A Group That Is Unprecedented In The History Of The Region And The World'; 'Iran Is That Group's Main Axis'; Afghanistan Is Part Of The Resistance Axis – October 6, 2021.
 Alarabiya.net, September 30, 2021.