Greater Iran!

By: Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Sun 3 July / Jul 2016. 08:00 PM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

Iran, over the recent duration, especially since the occupation of Iraq in 2003, has been able to establish a regional influence, unprecedented over the nearer centuries; Iran invested in the collapse of the regional Arab system and the shifts in western strategies since September 11th, 2001, up to the peak of Iran’s advancements with the nuclear accord and particular leaks of American President Barack Obama’s view on the region, slightly inclined to Iran’s side, least be said!

In Iraq, the foremost authority in the new political regime is Iran’s. As for Syria, there is not much a difference; Iran and Russia are split influencers in Syrian decisions, even though Iran’s influence is deeper, on the ground, and well entwined in the political, social, and religious composites of the Syrian situation.

In Lebanon, as well, Iran holds key power. And they have been supporting Houthis in North Yemen. And even within the regional Arab system, the building blockade against Iran is deteriorating as implicit, undisclosed disparities among respective states intensify.

However, to what extent is this influence sustainable and stable? Does it serve Iran, or even Arab Shiites, in the end of the day?!

Answering this question demands of us to review the pattern and factors of Iran’s current regional power and its enabling variable; Iran is employing Shiite sectarian sentiment to serve a pan-Iranian objective, which in turn has been tainted by the religious-sectarian discourse itself, rendering distinction between political and sectarian Iranian discourses a difficult, complicated matter, which laid —as a result— the Shiite issue in the heart of the Iran’s interests, by definition, now, in the region.

This perception, of Iran’s role in sponsoring and supporting Arab Shiites may be understandable, but Iran’s predicament goes beyond that to enforcing its own view on the Shiites themselves, as it is in all countries under Iranian dominion. In Iraq, Shiites are starting to revoke Iranian dominance. In Syria, there is a greatening sense among many of the Alewite sect there that the Shiite clerical rule (“wilayat al faqih”), as well as Iranian views, are being imposed, forcefully, on the sect of a more secular inclination. In Lebanon, Hizbollah pays a considerable price, humanly and domestically, for getting so involved in Syria.

While it is a bit farfetched that Arab Shiites would break free of Iranian dominion today, especially since they’ve become deeply involved in such a bloody political struggle, Iran today comprises a strategic depth to their interests. However, this kind of struggle prefaces a muffled struggle between the two parties, Iran and Arab Shiites, that would, with time, develop into a relationship that is more like a forced marriage, rather than partnership, and more foreign dominion than alliance.

The other issue lies in the fact that this power, Iran, builds on the basis of intensifying conflict with the generally Sunni environment, isolating Shiites from the Arab circle, indirectly, and integrating them into the Persian cloak. This creates a problem within the Arab Shiite society itself, and leads —secondly— to an ongoing attrition, internally, which will not result in their triumph on the long term, in a society with a Shiite minority, even should Iran stand by their side today.

This dynamic resulted in Iranian sectarian cleansing policies in Iraq and Syria, whereby Iran has attempted to build Shiite entities on the rubbles of Arab states, outlining interference in service of the sectarian map; the “instrumental Syria” approach, “Greater Damascus”, even a “Greater Baghdad”, can all be viewed as integral to Iranian visualisation!

In return, Iran forfeited its soft power in the Arab region, and dragged Shiites into fatal quarrels, in turn toeing the whole region into an extended, complicated war of attrition.

Of course, Iran is not the sole perpetrator for this situation. We are just as responsible. In fact, we are the primal enablers of our predicament; first due to our weakness, second for our refusal to negotiate and deliberate with Iran previously, and third, for the way we treated Shiite citizens.