In the last two decades, the Middle East region has become an open arena for dozens of armed organizations not subject to the legitimate authority of any state. Although these militias imposed themselves on the political scene and various societies by force of arms, they have gained de facto power, and even sometimes integrate local governments through ministers linked directly to their leaders, not to the authority of the Council of Ministers in the host country. Often, they have a seat at the international negotiating table representing the very country they have crushed in their iron fist.
Armed militias in the Middle East came to be for a variety of reasons. Some were formed as a result of a sudden security vacuum in a state, no longer able to maintain control over its entire land. Others were the result of complex intelligence engineering that makes it difficult to trace the source. Others were formed by certain countries in the region, under the umbrella of sectarianism and declared dependency.
Iran uses the latter as an arm to control countries in the region from afar without the need to go into the details of “occupation” and its problems, and its well-known consequences represented in decay and dissolution over time. In Lebanon and Iraq, for example, Iran does not intend at the present time, and I do not think it will do in the future, to push its preferred partners, Hezbollah and Popular Mobilization Front, to take over government as the sole player, because it knows perfectly well that the national popular opposition that will be created soon after will be able to take back the country, and clear of it its Persian influence. Therefore, among the strategies of the Iranian presence in these two countries, as we can see, is participation in the institution of governance, not its leadership, and applying continuous pressure on the various joints of the government, and exhausting the state with the aim of estranging it from its Arab reality. At the same time, it ensures that avenues are kept open with the foreign state, to contain the people politically and economically, and orient the collective consciousness towards Tehran, as happened recently when Hassan Nasrallah pledged to solve the fuel shortage problem in Lebanon through Iranian support!
Iran is keen to keep armed militias outside the authority of the central state in the Arab region. This is a well-known policy, but what seems to be still outside the calculations of “political analysis” is the persistence of Western countries, especially the United States, in dealing with terrorist organizations in the region, as if they express the voice of the people in the face of tyrannical authorities and dictatorial governments.
France, the state sponsor of Lebanon, knows that Hezbollah is the cause of the Lebanese crisis, and it knows full well that showing a “small sign of support” to the Christian party now allied with Hezbollah will pull it back to patriotism and to putting Lebanon first, not Iran. And yet France refuses to do so!
And the United States, which has been talking for months about restoring its previous alliances and working to restore its international power by showing goodwill to its friends, still considers the Houthi militia, created in Tehran factories, a Yemeni player that has the right to impose on the Yemeni masses its extremist Imamist theory that is directly connected to Iran!
As for Britain, Germany, Canada and the rest of the Western countries, they are watching, lurking, and preparing, and they put the Middle East parties in two balanced sides, waiting to obtain gains from this or that party.
We all know Iran's attitude in the region, and it remains to be known and understood exactly what the Western countries' attitudes are towards the conflicts in the Middle East, and what they are looking forward to in the next twenty or thirty years.
I think that the armed militias that contributed to the division of Sudan, and the international support they have received since the eighties, is a good indication of what is happening in the region today.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, UAE daily newspaper al-Ittihad.