Iran: Common Denominator of Middle East Chaos
Iranian Revolutionary Guards shown saluting in front of a picture of the leader of the 1970 Islamist revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (Photo: © Reuters)
Islamic Fundamentalism, the Iranian regime’s weapons of choice in the Middle-East
Everyone agrees that the Middle East region has become a hodgepodge of religious, ethnic and sectarian conflicts, with the prospects of a respite in death and destruction indeed being bleak. The effects are most evident in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and more recently in Libya and Lebanon. Other countries are not immune and are under the imminent threat of being pulled into the fray by joining one of the many confusing conflicts that are ravaging the region.
Where opinions diverge is how to deal with this crisis.
Erroneous interpretations by regional and world powers in pinpointing the true source of the disaster and careless dithering in laying out a suitable roadmap and an effective approach to tackle the problem have given rise to the perception that peace and stability in the Middle East as a hopeless cause.
The Iranian regime, the root of Islamic fundamentalism and the heart of problems in the Middle East
The common denominator of all calamities that can be witnessed in the region is Islamic fundamentalism and extremism, which is not only a regional but a global threat. This perverse interpretation of Islam has so far worked into the hands of dictators, helping to shore them up against their legitimate oppositions and has also buried the true face of Islam – which is in reality stands for peace and tolerance – under a thick crust of blood, violence, and death.
Islamic fundamentalism finds its main contributor in Iran, where the Velayat-e-Faghih (uncontested rule of the clergy) regime is being run by the mullahs. Their rule is based on regional expansionism and export of fundamentalism and terrorism abroad, and the violent suppression of the people at home.
The mullahs rely on their regional proxies to instigate civil conflicts and stoke the fires of sectarianism in the countries of the region in order to evade the many domestic and international crises that are entangling their own regime.
In this regard, Iraq and Syria have been hit the worst.
Iran’s role in the instigating the Iraq crisis
Had it not been for the oppressive and violent meddling of the Iranian regime, Iraq would have been moving along the path of democratization in the recent years. A peaceful and stable state led by an inclusive government would have left no room for the emergence of extremist groups in Iraq.
But following the hasty withdrawal of U.S. forces, the government of Iraq came under the complete sway of the Iranian regime. At the behest of the Iranian regime, the government of Iraq undertook sectarian-oriented policies, consolidating power in a tight circle of Iran-friendly forces and militia, gradually and violently marginalizing the Sunni community, and eventually setting the stage for widespread peaceful protests which turned into an all-out uprising after being brutally suppressed by government security forces.
Naturally, extremist groups have tried taking advantage of the situation to gain influence over the masses of people disgruntled by the disaster caused by the Iranian regime and its proxies in Iraq.
Fearing the loss of its hegemony, the Iranian regime poured thousands of troops into Iraq under the excuse of protecting religious shrines, and is doing all within its power to transform a democratic uprising to a sectarian conflict.
Recent reports of high-ranking Iranian commanders among the casualties in clashes in Iraq are proof of how deeply the Iranian regime is entrenched in the conflict.
Meanwhile, dazed and confused from the sudden turn of events in Iraq, and frantic to find a short-term solution to the situation that is quickly slipping through its grasp, the U.S. government is entertaining the possibility of cooperating with the Iranian regime to stabilize the situation.
Such an undertaking would be a recipe for disaster, would deepen sectarian divides and push Iraq further away from becoming the stable and secure state that its people deserve.
Iran props up the dictator of Syria against the democratic opposition
In 2012, Syria was moving on the path to democratic revolution at a fast pace and Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad – a strategic ally of the Iranian regime – had all but lost the war. But the intervention of Iran-backed Hezbollah and the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) gave him a boost and evened the odds.
Here again, the international community failed to respond appropriately. Fearing the unraveling of the much coveted nuclear talks with the mullahs, the West avoided a confrontation with the Iranian regime over its meddling in Syria, and therefore opted to turn a blind eye on the flow of supplies, arms and troops from Iran to the Assad regime.
The West’s idleness weakened the hand of the secular and democratic opposition forces and pushed the conflict into a stalemate, causing further bloodshed and giving rise to more extremist elements.
Now well into its third year, the Syrian crisis has claimed the lives of more than 170,000 people and has spilled over three million refugees into neighboring countries, with no prospect of a peaceful end in sight.
Even though the Iranian regime faces a precarious situation in Iraq, it refuses to relinquish Syria, and its officials continue to assert that holding Assad in power is a strategic goal. Thousands of Hezbollah fighters continue to fight for Assad on the behalf of the Iranian regime, and Iran continues to send troops to Syria.
Iranian regime, the main benefactor of bloodletting in Gaza
The situation in Gaza has so far served the interests of the Iranian regime by diverting international attention from the crises in Iraq and Syria.
While the world is calling for a cease-fire, the Iranian regime continues to hype the continuation of the conflagration and is using the conflict as a window of opportunity to extend its influence in the region.
Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, are openly scorning any sort of cease-fire and are adamantly calling for the continuation of the conflict. “If we do not fight in Palestine, Gaza and Lebanon,” Iranian MP said in a parliamentary session, “We would be forced to fight in streets of Tehran.”
The real solution to the grievances in the Middle East
The eviction of the Iranian regime from all countries in the region and eventually a regime change in Iran that would see the theocratic dictatorship replaced with a secular and democratic government would be the true, definitive solution to the crises plaguing the Middle East.
As much as a terrorism- and fundamentalism-exporting Iran – such as that of the mullahs – plays a pivotal role in the development of calamities in the Middle East, a peaceful and democratic Iran can have a crucial role in the establishment of lasting peace and stability in the region.
Such an idea is gaining more and more support worldwide, and was the focus of a momentous gathering in Paris on July 26 at a conference titled “Religious dictatorship in Iran, epicenter of sectarian wars in the Middle East.”
Attended by representatives and members of Shiite and Sunni communities from different countries of the Middle East region as well as dignitaries from the U.S. and European states, the conference offered accurate insights and solutions to the crises in the Middle East.
Speaking at the conference, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the principle opposition to the Iranian regime, called for the eviction of the Iranian theocracy from all countries in the region is the practical solution to the current situation.
Rajavi’s remarks were widely touted by other speakers.
Dr. Walid Phares, commentator on global terrorism and Middle Eastern affairs, criticized the West for abandoning the democratic opposition and engaging the dictatorship in Iran. Alluding to Rajavi’s movement, which represents a democratic, secular and nuclear-free alternative to the current regime in Iran, Phares said, “You are showing if liberty comes to Iran, every other country every other civil society would have more hope.”
Also speaking at the conference, Marc Ginsberg, former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco, said, “We… understand the importance of having an Iran that lives side by side with every country in the region in freedom and dignity without the threat the Iranian mullahs pose to the world.”
Ginsberg described Islam as a “proud and peaceful religion” that has been hijacked by those in Iran who claim to preach the true word of Islam.”
A firm position in dealing with the Iranian regime can be decisive in determining the future of the Middle East.
The West can continue to try to reach a compromise with the Iranian regime in order to douse the flames of sectarianism and fundamentalism. But as proven in the past, failure awaits at the end of that path. It is past time that the U.S. and the international community stood with the Iranian people and their resistance for regime change in Iran, the only way to start on the path of ending the global threat of Islamic fundamentalism.
Shahriar Kia is a press spokesman for an Iranian opposition group housed at Camp Liberty in Iraq. Kia says the group, the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, also known as MEK), advocates for a democratic, secular Iran with separation of church and state and gender quality that is nuclear-free. He graduated from North Texas University and currently resides in Iraq. His Twitter handle is @shahriarkia
You can read Kia’s previous interview with the Clarion Project here