THE BLOG

Iran As a Regional and Strategic Threat

On July 10, the last Friday of this year's Ramadan, millions of Iranians celebrated the annual 'al Quds day'. A celebration marked by the usual anti-Israel and anti-Semitic slogans. In addition of course, the US and the UK came in for especially vicious treatment, with flag-burning and posters with President Obama and Premier Cameron going up in flames. And the commander of the Iranian ground forces, Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, was adamant in pointing out that even with an agreement on the nuclear issue the US would remain an arch-enemy, something that was reiterated by Supreme Leader Khamenei about a week later.

And shortly before the events on July 10, between June 27 and July 6, in the municipality of Mashad, special events were organized to indoctrinate children with anti-Western messages and to bring home the fact that the West in general and the US in particular (together with Israel) are implacable enemies to Iran. Workshops for parents were also set up and over 4000 children and teens participated.
All this was taking place against the backdrop of the war in Syria, where Iranian bayonets are keeping President Assad in place. Now on its fifth year, the war has seen a lot of victims and one big winner; the Islamic republic of Iran has gained influence far outside its borders and it is fair to say that Teheran now has decisive power in Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut. The limited air-attacks conducted by the US-led coalition have very markedly helped the Shia-militias of Iraq and their foremost ally and master, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. More than four years of war in Syria, political upheavals across the region and the break-up of Iraq and Syria has seen Iranian influence increase. It is not as if no-one saw it coming. On the contrary, every single US ally in the region - from Morocco to Muscat - has persistently warned Washington about letting Iran constantly gain influence and power to the detriment of long-term stability and peace. To no apparent avail it seems. And it is quite obvious that the nuclear agreement will only enhance Iran's position and free up her economy with sanctions-relief. Obviously, the Obama-administration understands this (one hopes) but the tactic has been to keep the nuclear negotiations apart from other problems and challenges in the region. The problem is that the present US administration is the only one who sees it that way. No-one else - Iran included - sees the nuclear issue in isolation.

A nuclear agreement will empower Iranian ambitions to become the leading regional power. It will forcefully enhance a destructive and anti-Semitic agenda towards Israel and add to the instability and armed conflicts presently plaguing the Middle East. With a deal now finally brokered, the challenge for the US and the rest of the international community, is to find a better way to deal with the multitude of problems created by Iran's policy in the region. And it will have to be dealt with in a situation where Iran is in a much stronger position, both politically and economically.