“We are providing Syria with our own experience. Syrian forces pressured their government to follow Iran’s method in arming the people and turning them into militias; Syrian militias (Shabiheh), are very similar to Iranian Basij.”
This was part of a speech made by Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, the commander of Basij force in Revolutionary Guards. In the past Iranian officials denied allegations of assisting the Assad regime, but over the last few months there has been a shift in attitude. Naghdi is not the only Iranian official boasting about Iran’s involvement in Syria. Recently, General Ismail Gha’ani, deputy commander of “Quds Forces” (international division) of the Revolutionary Guards, revealed in a speech that there are Iranian forces in Syria actively assisting the Assad regime:
“Before our presence in Syria, a large number of people were being massacred by the insurgents, but with our physical presence there, we stopped these massive slaughters...Although the Syrian regime has shortcomings and we have reminded them of that fact, Syria to us is a territorial resistance and all the pressure from US and Israel is due to the fact that they realized they are unable to invade it...these are the structures of Islamic Renaissance, and Velayat Faghih has a major role in it”
Islamic Renaissance is the Islamic Republic’s name for the Arab Spring. The idea of Iran starting Islamic renaissance in the Middle East is not new. It dates back to the early years of the Islamic Republic. In the early 1980s, Ayatollah Khomeini announced the Islamic Republic’s plan to “export revolution”, to any country that wants to follow in Iran’s footsteps:
“Iran’s movement was not and is not exclusive to the country alone. Because Islam doesn’t belong to a single tribe. We started the movement for an Islamic Republic (not for the country). A movement for Islam can not be limited to a single country and not only to Islamic countries... It will be exported when Islam, its truth, Islamic morality and human morality are developed in those countries, and it is your duty to make this happen.”
A year later, the theory of Tehran as the Islamic “Ummul-qura” – an Islamic mother land, in theory relatively close to what Soviet Union was to Communism – was brought forward by Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, a radical fundamentalist cleric, and was developed by Mohammad Javad Larijani, an Islamic Republic ideologue. It was this idea that led to the formation of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Three years after the Islamic Revolution, while Iran was at a devastating war with Iraq, several hundred members of the Revolutionary Guards went to Lebanon and via funding and training helped the dissident members of Amal group to form Hezbollah. After the death of Khomeini, the next leader of the Islamic Republic, Seyed Ali Khamenei, pursued this notion with much more enthusiasm and emphasis.
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In some respects it could be closely compared to the shift between the Lenin doctrine and Stalin doctrine. Hezbollah was the first triumph of the Ummul-qura project. The leaders of Hezbollah have always voiced their utmost loyalty and obedience to the Islamic Republic leaders, calling Ayatollah Khamenei “Imam” – a term used by followers of a religious leader – they have confirmed receiving financial and military support from Iran and have presented themselves as members of this Ummul-qura.
The unit in charge of the success of the Ummul-qura project is the “Quds force”, which is tasked with the "extraterritorial operations" of the Revolutionary Guard. The unit’s official objective is to nourish, arm, train, and invest in the Islamist movements throughout the world. It also has a key role in the decision-making process in Iran when it comes to international policy.
The Quds Force has been proven to have a major role in many conflicts throughout the region especially in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan, Yemen, Bahrain, Lebanon, Palestine, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. In all these countries the unit has tried to influence the shiite groups and implement the Hezbollah model to create shiite movements loyal to the Islamic Republic. To lead these movements, the Quds Force usually chooses clerics who have ties to the Iranian theocracy or have studied in the religious city of Qom in Iran. Clerics such as Sheikh Ahmad Ghassem, the leader of the Shiite resistance in Bahrain, have the full support of the Islamic Republic and Hezbollah.
The Islamic Republic sees itself as an ideological and strategic enemy of the western liberal democracies. Islamic republic’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, believes to be at war with liberalism. Khamenei has repeated this concept again and again over the last 20 years.
“Satans of the world will not stop, they will not stop until they are powerless. The aberrant, wrong and deviant government of Soviet Union, like the liberal capitalist regime or as they call it liberal democracy, was against Islam and Islamic republic,” he said in a speech to the Basij forces.
“You know, they (West and Soviet Union) were against each other on 100 issues, but they were in agreement on some issues, one of these issues and the most important one was to fight against the uprising of Islam, the progress of Islam and Islamic republic. But the satanic deviant regime of Soviet Union perished, the other one (liberal democracy) will do too, but as long as they exist they do their best to stand against us, which is undoubtedly useless.”
It is no surprise that the Islamic republic is after the nuclear bomb as a guarantee against a military invasion; but we should be aware that its wish for having nuclear bombs is mostly an offensive strategy rather than defensive. The Islamic Republic is a Shiite imperialist regime and its leaders try to implement the Lebanese model in other countries of the region; to do so they need to be sure that their mother-land (the Ummul-Qura) remains safe when they start their final phase of destabilizing the region. In order to keep peace and stability in the Middle East it’s vital not to allow the Islamic fundamentalist government of Iran to achieve its nuclear ambition and get the bomb. The best way to do this is to invest in the Iranian democratic movement, which definitely can change the regime in a short term period.
The views expressed in this article are the authors' and do not neccessarily reflect those of Your Middle East.