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Iranian influence and the green Middle East

Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi

Published: Updated:

The expansion of influence and establishment of dominance through the so-called ‘export of revolution’ is a globally known public Iranian strategy that needs no proof, and it has been the applied strategy since the revolution of Khomeini in 1979 till the present, with no signs that Iran of the future is willing to amend it in any manner, as it is the regime’s creed and the ideology of authority that seems to get stronger and firmer.

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This Iranian strategy has witnessed some major and minor alternations through the last four decades in terms of the methods applied to implement it and achieve its objectives, starting with Khomeini and moving to Khamenei. However, its objectives have never been amended or revised. These objectives target the Arab countries in a direct and flagrant manner, as manifested in Syria and Yemen, along with activities in some Arabian Gulf countries through cells of terrorism and espionage, and further activities on the global arena via drug trafficking, money laundry, and terrorism.

The four major models of Iranian influence in the Arab countries of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen have unified objectives, but different tactical methodologies that can be monitored. For example, the Iraqis have become sick and tired of the flagrantly Iran-affiliated parties and militias in their country. Hence, and through steady political effort backed by Arab and international support, the loyal patriotic Iraqis managed to win in the recent elections, directing a major blow to Iran’s dominion, symbols, parties, and militias. Meanwhile, Iran did not accept that setback, nor is it expected to do so. Instead, Tehran, along with its affiliates, filled the world with uproar, threats, and terrorism. The Iraqi story with Iranian dominance has not yet reached a conclusion, but the results of the recent elections have proven that this influence is not predestined as in a religious context, nor is it a historical inevitability in a Marxist context. Instead, it develops as per the political games and conflict of strategies.

In Lebanon it is a different story, as the two blatant and barefaced representatives of Iran there; namely Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, have managed to foil the Lebanese statehood with a full legitimization provided by the Free National Current of General Michel Aoun, in a scenario which represents a return of wreckage if we wish to recall the words of Lebanese thinker Amin al-Rihani who was dreaming of surpassing the wreckage. The Lebanese people are helpless and out of options, and all their leaderships, parties, and trends have failed in finding a way out or generate any hope of change similar to the recent one in Iraq. Thus, everyone there has stopped their attempts to change the situation, and Arab countries have ceased to provide support, since no side is willing to adopt a failing cause when the owners of that cause either abandon it or work against it.

In Yemen, the Houthi militia is a flagrant Iranian army that is interested neither in the Yemeni state nor in the Yemeni people, and it is hardly present in the Yemeni south, except in some skirmishes. They have the strongest dominance in areas of Zaydi majority, and they work on expanding towards oil reserves and Saudi borders. It is noteworthy that their maneuvers are facilitated wherever the Muslim Brotherhood Group is influential, and had it not been for Saudi Arabia and the Arab Alliance, things would have tremendously worsened there.

In Syria, the regime there seems to be caught between Russia and Iran, with each state is struggling for its own influence spheres, dominance, and loyalties. Meanwhile, Israel seems to be alert to the Iranian strategy in Syria and the region, and aware of its ambitions and objectives. Hence, Tel Aviv is working together with the US, Russia - which was visited by the Israeli Prime Minister recently - and numerous world countries to thwart this Iranian strategy.

No one in the world denies the existence of this expansionist Iranian strategy, just as no one doubts that it is based on a theocratic, fundamentalist, and extremist ideology. However, no one in the world is interested in confronting that strategy, and this is due to the fact that the United States, the leader of the world and the West, is not ready to go into that confrontation in any manner, desperately clinging to the nuclear deal, whereas Iran refuses to negotiate and makes advancement in the manufacturing of a destructive nuclear weapon, a thing his Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has warned against years ago.

Some people are unable to grasp the dangerous effect of particular concepts and creeds on our daily reality, such as sectarianism, fundamentalism, Sunnism, Shiism, Al-Hakimiyah, Al-Jahiliyah and the like, thinking that since they are backward and rejected concepts then their destructive impact in reality should be overlooked. This is a wrong approach, since it ignores the historical logic, human nature, and the power of ideology. Hence, those people realize their mistake only after these concepts turn to a reality on the ground that affects the lives of humans, the interests of countries, and the future planning.

In the same vein, and in line with this intellectual blindness, they sympathize with some global intellectual trends that provide support for all kinds of Iranian expansionist ambitions and aspirations to dominance establishment, including the global left whether it be traditional, European, or US-based liberal. Just as the former global left has cheered Khomeini and his revolution, unable then to grasp its content and ideology which turned that stance to a historical scandal, the modern American libertarian left is committing the same error, albeit with different tools and logic that evolved naturally and according to variant factors. However, the result is the same.

Blind imitation lacks the bare basics of scientific thinking, let alone that it is extremely harmful when applied in reality, especially when the factors are contradictory, the interests are conflicting, and the priorities are confused. The Arab layperson in the countries under Iranian dominance is not quite interested in a US political party in the US or Europe that calls for ‘drama and arts liberty’, defends the rights of the blacks and advocates the cause of arrays of sexual deviation. Such a person is only interested in his daily worry of a new colonial power that occupies his country. His main concern is not to see this Iranian occupier destroy his country or kill his family, regardless of whether that occupier is under the name of the divine party, sectarian militia, or terrorist organization.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia, along with some Arab countries, are open in their rejection and condemnation of the nuclear Iranian project, the Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Arab states, and the Iranian ballistic missiles program. However, this rejection should not be an obstacle to direct negotiations with the Iranian regime instead of awaiting the results of the Vienna talks between the West and Iran. Ultimately, politics is about achieving a state’s interests, protecting its sovereignty, and creating its future rather than sticking to obsolete ideological positions.

Finally, we will give an example of the conflict of major projects in the region. Saudi Arabia is the world’s most influential country in terms of power markets, and this is an indisputable fact that was hinted at recently by US President Joe Biden. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is the country launching a number of international initiatives concerned with global issues, such as environment protection, ecological changes and challenges. Hence, the ‘Saudi Green Initiative’ and the ‘Middle East Green Initiative’ are two key Saudi initiatives for which two summits will be held in Riyadh one day following the publication of this article, with the participation of world leaders and global official, economic, and civil decision makers.

This article was originally published in, and translated from, pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

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Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.