Iran is the latest incarnation of a “power” in the Middle East. It has been a center for an Empire and has been, for a long time, a powerful and sometimes baleful influence on the surrounding countries, tribes and economies.
In recent times probably the most successful engagement by the West was support for the Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi who ruled Iran from 1941 until 1979. He was overthrown by a revolution led by Theocrats and Ruhollah Khomeini became the new leader of the “Islamic Republic” and the country has since been run by a religious leader (Ayatollah) via Religious Councils. The formation of a Revolutionary Guard military component under the control of the religious councils apart from the main military establishment has been a key in maintaining control – very similar to the set up of the regimes in both NAZI Germany and Soviet Russia.
Iran under the theocratic regime has devoted a large amount of money and resources to overseas activity. Their Revolutionary Guards special forces – Quds Force is active in enabling terror cells and resistance organizations throughout the Middle East.
It is worth noting here that Iran is run by clerics of the Shia “wing” of Islam. Shia Muslims are the smaller of the two larger sects of Islam. They comprise between 10 and 15% of the total number of Muslims. The bigger Sect are the Sunni Muslims – comprising somewhere around 80% of the total of Muslims in the world. Iran is the center of Shia with a population that has about a third of the total Shia muslims of the world.
The difference between Shia and Sunni , while important to the believers in both camps, is not really within the scope of this post. The reason I bring it up is that some of what Iran does needs to be viewed from the religious angle and their support of Shia communities in countries where they are in the minority. Iran also utilizes Shia paramilitary groups (like Hezbollah) in its on-going fight against Israel.
During the reign of the Shah, the US had good relations with Iran – and so did Israel. The country itself was fairly westernized in it’s social life – I have included a picture of women in the street in Teheran during the rein of Pahlavi and a different picture of women in the street under the current regime.
The current antagonistic stance between the USA and Iran is relatively recent. A point to bear in mind.
Iran is the second largest Middle East country just behind Egypt. https://www.globalfirepower.com/countries-listing-middle-east.asp lists Iran as the third most powerful military force in the Middle East with Turkey at the top, and Egypt second. Israel is listed as fourth. Iran is not a lightweight.
President Trump’s strategy all along has been to keep the pressure on Iran in the arena where it is most vulnerable – its economy. Iran has, since the revolution in 1979, been gradually altering the balance of power in the Middle east away from Israel and from Saudi Arabia by using it’s wealth, particularly oil, to finance and underwrite large scale paramilitary organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. Iran dedicates more of its GDP to this endeavor than any other countries in the Middle East. By doing this it has enabled Hamas, for example, to build a large organization and equip it with rockets and armaments to threaten Israel directly, at the same time it has financed large scale recruitment and training for Hezbollah in Lebanon on Israel’s northern border.
That developed infrastructure enabled Iran to become a player in the Syrian conflict via its Hezbollah proxy. For those who do not know the Geography of the Middle East I have included a map which if you look at the north of Israel you will see that Iran has forces inimical to Israel in Syria and in Lebanon and also via Hamas in the West Bank in the center of Israel. IN short – that treasure has been widely spent to exert pressure on – and ultimately to destroy – the state of Israel.
Lest there be doubts about this – here are four quotes about the official Iranian line on Israel – taken from an article in The Atlantic
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.” (2001)
Yahya Rahim Safavi, the former commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps: “With God’s help the time has come for the Zionist regime’s death sentence.” (2008)
Mohammad Hassan Rahimian, Khamenei’s representative to the Moustazafan Foundation: “We have manufactured missiles that allow us, when necessary to replace [sic] Israel in its entirety with a big holocaust.” (2010)
Ahmad Alamolhoda, a member of the Assembly of Experts: “The destruction of Israel is the idea of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and is one of the pillars of the Iranian Islamic regime. We cannot claim that we have no intention of going to war with Israel.” (2013)
Iran is determined to destroy Israel. This is not some slogan – this is a policy they have been working on for 40 years.
Please bear this in mind – we sent billions of dollars under the Obama Administration in cash – in CASH! – to the Iranian government. Pallets of it. WE sent money to a regime that has stated and re-stated its aim is to destroy our closest ally in the Middle east.
I ask you to re-read the section that starts “Lest there be doubts…” again because it needs to be crystal clear to us all that President Trump needs to be supported by all of us while he navigates the waters here. No-one wants to go to war. But the message has to be driven home to the leadership of Iran at the every option short of that is on the table.
The only way for the sanctions to have a real and lasting effect on Iran is for them to force the Iranian regime to divert funds from its terrorist infrastructure and back to it’s own people. Seriously. The Iran regime will only start responding to the sanctions when the unhappiness with the situation inside Iran starts to threaten the regime’s existence.
Iran has its own internal pressures to deal with and those pressures will only increase the longer it all goes on.
We need to support President Trump on this – we need to start loudly pointing out to our European “allies” that their continuing to play footsy with this regime is barbaric and unconscionable and it needs to stop. Only by shutting off their spigot can we get Iran to change its course.
The alternative if we don’t stay with this all the way is – is war. We are negotiating and dealing with a regime whose greatest interest is the destruction of another country. Not the well being of its own people or country – but the destruction of another country. Remember that.