Confusion is the title of Iran’s political, social, and security scene. Of course, this is in light of the internal failure to confront the escalating popular revolution in Iranian cities, drone strikes targeting many of the country’s vital facilities, and other political issues.
Every day the situation gets more and more aggravated, especially after the nuclear negotiations with the West failed.
It looks that the “Shiite Crescent” established by Tehran in the Levant region was going through a bad phase.
This is where these countries classified as the “axis of resistance”, with the onset of 2023, seem more threatened than ever.
The targeting of some vital and strategic installations in Isfahan by drones last week put the mullahs of Tehran in a real crisis that reveals the weakness of the tools of the ruling power there.
Initially, Iran accused Kurdish factions based in Iraq of being involved in the attack.
Nornews news agency said, “The helicopters that were used to carry out the hostile action against the defense facility in Isfahan entered, with the participation and directions of the anti-revolutionary Kurdish groups stationed in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.”
Afterwards, in less than 48 hours, it redirected the accusation towards its traditional compass – Israel. It blamed Tel Aviv for the attack, vowing to retaliate after what appeared to be the latest episode in a protracted covert war. This shows the extent of the pressures that the Tehran regime is suffering from.
The “Shiite Crescent” is a political and sectarian term used by Iran to cover up its expansionist ambitions, and to express its ambition to swallow Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to find an outlet for itself on the Mediterranean.
While Iran and Syria are subject to harsh US and international sanctions related to politics and the economy, Iraq enjoys an abundance of oil money.
However, it is not under the direct control of Iraq, given that it is deposited in the US Federal Reserve Bank in New York.
Under the sanctions imposed on Iran, the United States exercises tight control over the movement of funds available to the Baghdad government.
Therefore, this control has recently been tightened enough to strangle the Iranian regime, to the extent that Baghdad was forced to pay its purchases from Tehran in dinars, which led to a sharp decline in the value of the Iraqi dinar and the collapse of the Iranian riyal.
As for Syria, Iran is in first place in its regional and international strategy. This is because controlling it will ensure that Iran will be able to besiege its Gulf and Turkish opponents in preparation for isolating them and forcing them to recognize Iranian influence in the region, which will lead to strengthening the Iranian position internationally as the number one power in the Middle East.
On the other hand, controlling Syria guarantees the transformation of the idea of the Shiite Crescent project into a well-established geographical and social reality and a coherent strategic resource that can be employed within the framework of regional and international relations. Indeed, Iran paid attention to the Syrian dimension in this equation, so it sought with all its military and media power to change the equations on the ground through many means, including changing the demographic composition and tampering with the social map by displacing the Syrians and replacing Shiite citizens from more than one region. Of course, this entailed attempts to destroy real estate records, spheres of influence, and everything that proves ownership.
But this crescent, in which Iran had been investing for decades, turned against the Iranian regime. From Beirut to Baghdad, all the way to Tehran, Iran faces its most complex adversary in years in the form of Shiite demonstrators. For the Islamic Republic, the enemy is within as well, and it cannot be contained without violent upheaval that could strike at its strategies and political alliances across the region.
Iran may never have thought that its main challenge would come from the Shiite communities themselves. The regime in Tehran was adopting one strategy throughout the region: strengthening the Shiite identity, generously giving arms and money to agents, and acquiring the image of the father of the Shiites by replacing the state and its institutions. However, the regime never realized that despite all these investments in resources and the people, and after achieving all those military victories in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, the people – especially the Shiites – need a practical translation of those victories. This is about providing more – not less – means of subsistence and securing a better future for their children. But the reality was quite the opposite. In the absence of a socio-economic vision for the capital controlled by Iran, living conditions are no longer acceptable. In light of the destabilization of the “Shiite Crescent,” Iran is making every effort to save it. Losing this “crescent” means losing the ability to extend influence in the Middle East, as well as losing a lot of political and financial resources.
Dr. Hatem Sadek is a Professor at Helwan University