Sunday, March 08, 2015

Iran’s hunger for hegemony

From Arab News, 3 March 2015, by Abdulrahman Al-Rashed:

Iran's fingerprints are everywhere. Its activities expand throughout the region, mostly around Saudi Arabia, in Iraq, Yemen, the Gulf, Syria and Lebanon, where it is involved in politics, media, oil, weaponry and religion. ...

Iran is currently in an offensive state, the likes of which we have not seen in modern history. It is directly fighting in Syria and Iraq, and has proxies in Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen and elsewhere. It also has a presence in Sudan, although President Omar Bashir claims he has shut down all Iranian offices.
Yemen is the latest Iranian venture, but Tehran is incapable of succeeding there. Regardless of how much effort it makes via the Houthi rebels and ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen remains socially and politically close to Saudi Arabia.

... Iran’s expansionist appetite is not only a threat to countries in the region but it also targets areas of stability and supports violent groups that threaten the world.

This has been the nature of the Iranian regime since the 1980s. It imitates the old Soviet model by supporting what it calls “liberation movements in the Third World,” for the sake of harming regimes that do not agree with its political path.

Iran also focuses on supporting certain groups in the region against central governments. In Lebanon, it supports Hezbollah and has weakened the central government, although the latter does not oppose Iran in Lebanon’s surroundings.

Similarly, Iran has supported Hamas against the Palestinian Authority, although the latter was never against Tehran. Iran has supported the Houthis for years, although Saleh’s regime then had good relations with Tehran.

In Iraq, Iran’s policy and involvement is much clearer. It supports militias and parties more than it supports the central government. Tehran supports the so-called popular mobilization forces in Iraq as an alternative to the national army, parts of which do not agree with Iran.

In this context, and that of an arms race, all parties are re-evaluating their military capabilities and looking to strengthen them. If Iran does not end its incursions in the Gulf and beyond, and if it continues to reject solutions to major struggles such as Syria’s, then confrontations will increase and their severity will worsen....

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