Opinion| Iran and its agenda for the Middle East

Hatem Sadek
8 Min Read

Iran does not hide its political agenda in the Middle East and the Arab Gulf. It is almost known to everyone. Since the outbreak of the Iranian revolution in late 1970s, the mullah regime in Tehran has sought to restore the glories of the Persian Empire in the region through armed outposts planted in several Arab countries, depending on the ethnic and religious diversity that extends historically in the roots of those countries. Iranian dreams often converged with the illusions of other regional parties that, until recently, believed that the Arab countries were mere soldiers subservient to their authority.

The mullahs of Tehran believe that Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the two centers of gravity in the entire region extending from the Persian Gulf in the east to Morocco, and from Syria to Yemen in the south, in addition to that the strength gained by Egypt in the Mediterranean region to Europe. That is why, during the last period, Iran sought with all its tools on the ground to besiege this center. And according to the political geography, Saudi Arabia was besieged by an armed Shiite crescent that extended from eastern Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, and in the south, extending from Yemen to parts of Somalia. The matter reached the level of militia intervention in some other conflict areas, such as Libya and Mauritania. To this day, the main goal of these militias is still the realization of the dream of the Shiite Islamic Persian empire.

There will be no change in the Iranian agenda. Because it is not simply a political vision, but a religious ideological approach to the religious ruling authority in Iran. History confirms that almost all treaties and agreements signed by the Iranians, whether political or military, did not survive at all. The researcher will not find it difficult to explore the reasons for the failure of these agreements, especially those related to neighborhood relations or ending wars. Remarkably, the agreements that lasted for some time were due to either the weakness of the ruling authority in Iran or because the agreements paved and opened the way for Iran’s illegitimate dream.

The recent events that took place quickly in Iran made everyone confused, and during the past three years, the Iranian arena witnessed many contradictions, especially in the wake of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani. For the first time, we saw demonstrations in the cities of Iran expressing their joy over the killing of this person. Then, within a few months, we noticed a remarkable decline in the size of the successes achieved by Tehran’s arms in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen. Finally, we saw what is happening in Iranian cities in terms of popular movements and the rejection of manifestations of religious extremism. All this gives everyone evidence that something has changed!

Confusion, as we said earlier, has become the title of the political, social, and security scene in Iran. Thus, between an internal failure in confronting the escalating popular revolution in Iranian cities, military strikes targeting many of the country’s vital installations, and other political strikes, the situation is getting worse, especially after the failure of the nuclear negotiations with the West. It seemed that the “Shiite Crescent” established by Tehran in the Levant region was going through a bad phase and could be fatal. This is where these countries classified as the “axis of resistance” at the beginning of the year 2023 appear to be more threatened than ever. All this puts the mullahs of Tehran in a real crisis that reveals the weakness of the tools of the ruling power there. This is because this crescent moon, which Iran has been investing in for decades, is beginning to turn 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 protesters. As for the Islamic Republic, the enemy is also within, which cannot be contained without violent upheaval that could destroy Iran’s strategies and political alliances throughout the region.

Perhaps Iran never thought that its main challenge would come from the Shiite communities themselves. The regime in Tehran has been adopting one strategy throughout the region, which is to strengthen the Shiite identity, bestow weapons and money on proxies, and acquire the image of the father of the Shiites by replacing the state and its institutions. However, the regime never realized that in the aftermath of 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 – needed a practical translation of those victories represented by providing more livelihoods – not less. This is in addition to securing a better future for their children. But the reality was quite the opposite. In the absence of a socioeconomic 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. This is because 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.

Therefore, there was nothing left for Tehran but to apply the principle of “Taqiyyah”, which means concealing their true beliefs to get out of all their crises. This famous principle is currently being practiced by concluding some agreements to calm the side conflicts and restore calm to catch a breath as a fighter rest before a new round begins. But to be fair, despite the shameful history of non-compliance with contracts and covenants, we hope that Tehran will abide by what it signed. If this is achieved, the next question will be: Is it time to close the page of the mullahs in Iran?

Dr. Hatem Sadek: Professor at Helwan University

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