Iran’s regional project
Iran’s strategic goal is to emerge as the dominant power in southwest Asia, including the Arab world
The leaders of Yemen’s Houthis, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iraq’s Dawa party and Bahrain’s Al-Wefaq party seek to implement their sectarian fundamentalist project in order to spread Iran’s influence beyond its borders. Those leaders consider Iran a cosmopolitan system rather than a state with defined boundaries. Tehran works via institutions, delegates and representatives in neighboring countries.
They have pledged unconditional allegiance, waging war and declaring peace on Tehran’s orders without taking into account the interests of their states. They do not consider Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria or Iraq as countries.
This fundamentalist, sectarian project is spearheaded by Iran, but is not limited to it. We have overlooked its conspiracies and preoccupied ourselves with Sunni fundamentalism so as not to look like supporters of sectarianism. This article will be described by Shiite sectarian media as sectarian, but there are dozens of books and articles by Western researchers about Shiite sectarianism that are not labelled as such.
The Arab researcher, however, is accused of sectarianism, and is considered a threat, whether he is an Islamist or a nationalist. The secular Arab who exaggerates about Sunni sectarianism should be more afraid of prevailing Shiite fundamentalism, because the latter is full of illusion and theocracy.
There was once a Shiite reform movement similar to the Sunni one. The former was influenced by the latter, and sought to reconcile between Shiite Islam and modernization. One of its most prominent figures was Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr, who wrote the books “Our Islam” and “Our Economy,” which were well-known among Muslim intellectuals during the 1960s because he maintained a moderate, non-sectarian position.
In Iran, moderate reformers include the late Mahdi Bazerkan and Ibrahim Yazdi, who is detained. They were influenced by the Sunni reform movement and were involved in the Iranian revolution, but believe that fundamentalism has dominated the country for the last three decades via power, money and exclusion.
There are national transformation plans in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Turkey that are similar to Saudi Vision 2030. Tehran is implementing its own 20-year plan. Its main goal is to turn the country into an international force and an inspiration to the Muslim world. Iran’s strategic goal is to emerge as the dominant power in southwest Asia, including the Arab world.
Iran’s strategic goal is to emerge as the dominant power in southwest Asia, including the Arab worldJamal Khashoggi
“Tehran’s pragmatism will not seek a confrontation with foreign dominating forces except when its interests are threatened,” said Iranian politician Mohsen Rezaei, a pillar of the revolution. What is going on in the world today is a clear example of this. The United States is fighting alongside Iran in Iraq, or has paved the way for it to dominate the country.
Late Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told the Americans: “We have fought together to save Iraq from Iranian control, but the United States has handed Iraq on a golden plate to Iran.” By understanding Tehran’s strategic 20-year vision, Saudi Arabia - which is leading the project against Shiite fundamentalism - has to reshape the conflict and push its allies to take the same position.
The crises in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq should be linked and dealt with as one Iranian project that threatens all our cultural and political components, and our vision for the future. This project poses a serious threat to our region, and should be seriously confronted with a unified project before it is too late.
This article first appeared in Al Hayat on July 2, 2016.
Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi journalist, columnist, author, and general manager of the upcoming Al Arab News Channel. He previously served as a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal while he was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States. Khashoggi has written for various daily and weekly Arab newspapers, including Asharq al-Awsat, al-Majalla and al-Hayat, and was editor-in-chief of the Saudi-based al-Watan. He was a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan, and other Middle Eastern countries. He is also a political commentator for Saudi-based and international news channels. Twitter: @JKhashoggi