In Defense of Iran

In an article published in Greater Kashmir (August 21), Dr. Muzaffar Shaheen has described Iran an expansionist state that is using menagerie of proxy groups for safeguarding its strategic interests in the Middle East. The author scathingly writes that “Tehran has always been fiercely opposed to Israel without having shot a single fire towards Tel Aviv. Tehran has been vitriolic to Emirates and Israel official relations while she has only cultivated proxy militia groups fighting for Tehran’s expansionism in the Middle East from Lebanon, Syria to Iraq and Yemen”. Tacitly showing Iran in hand and glove with the US, the author repudiates Iran for helping the US to hunt down Sadam and install a pro-Tehran regime in Iraq that witnessed “murderous onslaughts on fellow Muslims” in Baghdad and other areas for years that, according to him, consequently led to the birth of ISIS.

The article appeared in the backdrop of the agreement between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel. Though the agreement is displayed to focus on tourism, trade, technology, and other non-military areas, however, it is in line with the Israeli aim of expanding its influence in the Middle East and achieve its principal goal of containing Iran.

Relying heavily on the cock and bull stories, the author has not realized what Islamic revolution actually stood for? At the heart of this revolution is the revivalism of Islamic tenets and supporting those Muslim states that had been pressed to the periphery.

The author has failed to understand that after the Islamic revolution of 1979, containing Iran became the shared policy objective of the US and its two regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Ever since the ouster of two anti-Iranian regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Iranian influence and the ensuing ideological disposition has spread its tentacles across the region. This has made the policy of containing Iran virtually impossible. The al-Saud and Israeli regime see the growing influence of Iran in the region as a threat to their core interests, that includes among other things, a shared and fierce opposition to grassroots political movements demanding greater share in decision-making across the region. Interestingly, the amount of power and influence that Iran wields in the region, the international community sees it as the only country capable of de-hyphenating the current West Asian crisis. This flies in the face of the well-oiled Israeli and Saudi propaganda machinery.

The Iranian foreign policy after the Islamic revolution has constantly adopted a geopolitical outlook that classifies the world into the oppressors, or “mustakbireen,” an axis of evil that traditionally included the U.S., UK, Israel and the West in general; and the “mustadafeen,” or the oppressed, constituted by Palestine, Kashmir, Lebanon and other communities, also known as the “axis of resistance.” Through this “axis of resistance” Iran continues to stand tall against the ill designs of the “axis of evil”.

Iran has been under a crippling sanctions regime since 1979 that is strengthened every year or so by the US-led international order. This has costed Iran trillions of dollars, plagued its overall development and substantially halted its technological progress. In fact, the only thing that Iran needs to do to be fully integrated in this global order is to accept Israel as a legitimate actor. Iran knows it, Israel craves for it, and the US regimes are waiting for such a time. Why would Iran sacrifice so much for the sake of Palestinians who sided with Saddam’s brutal eight-year aggression against Iran that included the use of chemical weapons? Dr. Shaheen has failed to even consider the highly lucrative options in front of Iran since 1979, had it turned the Turkish, Emirati and Saudi way of serving the US-Israeli interests.

Iran continues to assist oppressed Muslim communities and nations across the globe on the basis of the revolutionary spirit of Islam and Karbala that calls to stand up against all forms of oppression, rejection of hegemonic orders and unity of Muslims across the globe. That is the only way forward if we aim to resolve the quagmires that we are ditched in. There is no other way.

(Eesar Mehdi is a PhD scholar at South Asian University New Delhi.