Iranian regime now in a self-destruction mode
Since the coming to power of Ayatollah Khomeini and his supporters in February 1979, Iran has been in the business of exporting its revolution by seeking to create a radical Shiite wave in the Arab and Muslim world with Tehran as its center.
Such a new and dangerous political order would be subject to the authority of the mullahs in Iran. Iran’s destabilizing course has been pursued by various means, but mainly through violence, always practiced by Iran itself or its proxies. Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Palestine and other countries in the Middle East have all suffered from Iran’s terrorism.
However, it seems that Iran’s revolutionary activities are now facing both political and practical limitations. Iran is now confronting many strategic difficulties resulting from a range of factors. Among these is the foolish overextension of power beyond its borders, the resistance it faces in many areas over its ruinous policies, and its inability to realize its ambitions in many countries.
While these difficulties are well known, they have taken on renewed interest due to questions raised by former allies now questioning Iran’s vicious motives. The most salient example is former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, who — in a recorded conversation — criticized the Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr. In addition, several partners of Hezbollah in Lebanon have now realized that they were wrong to align themselves with Iran. Perhaps, soon, more condemnations will come from individuals and groups that trusted the regime previously before discovering that their confidence in the Iranian regime was misplaced.
While all these indictments highlight Iran’s disastrous schemes for Arabs and Muslims, it would be wrong to describe such Iranian intrusion and penetration into many countries in the Arab world as an extension of Tehran’s soft power. For sure, this is not soft power but hard power that aims to devastate nations.
All political indicators indicate heightened political tensions inside Iran.
Moreover, missing from the evaluation of Iran’s bad behavior is the failure to educate the public in nations where Iran has spread its influence regarding Tehran’s calamitous plans. The media in many countries has also failed to expose Iranian crimes. Regrettably, many Arab TV and radio stations have hosted guests who were apologists for Iran. In fact, no media outlet has pointed out the fact that Iran has been hiding its military adventures abroad from the Iranian people. No ordinary Iranian knows the cost in terms of money of their lethal foreign policy enterprises. Hardly any Iranian is cognizant of the length and duration of these failing military operations.
These matters are significant, strategically speaking. Iran’s neighbors are now opposed to its risky ambitions. This opposition must change Iran’s geopolitics immediately. More important is the fact that Iran cannot legitimize its system of government internally as a result of foreign policy success. Iran may face a big Kurdish quandary soon if there is more defiance by many Shiites, as well as a majority of Sunnis and Kurds in Iraq, of Iran’s manipulation of their government. Here, Iraqi Kurdistan may articulate more demands for autonomy from the central Iraqi government in Baghdad. Such a political request could lead to a normalization of relations between Iraqi Kurdistan and Israel.
I do not wish to characterize the growing resistance to Iran as a Shiite split. I do not want to wade into sectarian fighting, and I desire harmony among all religions and denominations. However, political analysts and commentators in the West will designate the political schism among the Shiite population in many countries as the character of the increasing confessional and sectarian breaches and ruptures between different Shiite factions when they form pro-Iran or anti-Iran coalitions.
The most important strategic reality is how the challenge to Iran emanating from many countries will affect the power structure inside Iran. Predictably, there could be bloody power struggles occurring at the highest echelons, pitting those who want to curtail Iran’s foreign policy meddling in other nations against those elements who prefer to perpetuate Iran’s hegemony overseas through military and political campaigns.
No one can ignore the fact that a mode of self-destruction has begun in Iran. All political indicators indicate heightened political tensions inside the country. Accompanying such a critical political drift will be a strong message of protest against Iran's sweeping many countries in the Middle East in the near future.
• Maria Maalouf is a Lebanese journalist, broadcaster, publisher and writer. She has a master’s degree in political sociology from the University of Lyon. Twitter: @bilarakib