Iran’s vicious and rapidly growing dominance

Iran’s vicious and rapidly growing dominance

History is indeed one of the best tools with which to comprehend the Iranian regime’s current and prospective threats. A nuanced examination of the rapid and remarkable growth of Tehran’s hegemony ought to send an alarming message to the international community — and urge it immediately to take appropriate action.
When Khomeini assumed power and set up the system of Velayat-e-Faqih (the governance of the jurist, which gives the supreme leader custodianship over the entire nation), the regime had barely any influence in other countries, in the region or beyond. Iran also endured eight years of a bloody and devastating war with its neighbor, Iraq.
Nevertheless, Tehran still managed to dramatically widen its spheres of influence, open new fronts and export its extremist ideology and revolutionary ideals. During the Iran-Iraq war, although many of Iran’s resources were drained, the theocratic, determined and defiant regime began to implement its international agenda. Three years after 1979, the ruling mullahs sent more than 1,000 members of its Quds Force — a special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that operates in foreign territories — to Lebanon. Within a short period of time, these IRGC members gave birth to the first, and currently the most powerful, Shiite militia group in the world: Hezbollah.
The Iranian regime soon resorted to terrorist tactics as its modus operandi. Through a series of concerted operations — including the bombing of American embassies, taking hostages, kidnappings, the killing of peacekeeping troops from Europe and the US, suicide bombings, and deadly attacks against Israel — Iran and Hezbollah scored their first geopolitical, strategic and ideological victory when they forced Israel and the US to pull out of Lebanon.
Within a few years, Beirut became the first Arab capital to fall into the hands of Iran, and Iranian leaders bragged about it. This new front in the Levant was not sufficient for Tehran, which turned its attention to Bahrain and other Gulf nations. The IRGC and Ministry of Intelligence invested their resources in building a network of surrogate militias, sponsoring terrorist groups and supporting fundamentalist Shiite groups across the region, such as the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain

It is incumbent on the international community to put an end to the Iranian regime’s rapidly growing hegemony, and its dangerous and vicious expansion.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

In an attempt to establish systems of governance similar to that of Iran in neighboring countries, the Iranian regime began stirring up protests in Gulf nations by pursuing a sectarian agenda, and the supreme leader publicly called for the overthrow of Gulf governments, including that of Saudi Arabia. Feeling empowered, Tehran plotted to assassinate prominent figures, including Riyadh’s ambassador to Washington.
In Iraq, Iran did not give up its objective to dominate Baghdad, even after eight years of war, which led to a military stalemate. Tehran exercised significant patience until it found its political opportunity in 2003, during the Iraqi conflict involving the US.
As for Syria, the Iranian regime had long sought to dominate Damascus as it did Beirut. Although Damascus and Tehran were staunch allies, former President Hafez Assad most likely drew a red line for Iran, warning Tehran against creating militia groups in Syria, setting up military bases in the country or attempting to rule over Damascus. Iran was aware that if it crossed this red line, Assad was capable of damaging Iran’s interests in Lebanon. Resorting to their masterful skill of patience, the mullahs waited until they found an opportunity in 2011.
Like the Lebanese civil war, the Syrian conflict provided a ripe opportunity for Tehran to infiltrate and dominate the political, security and military establishment of the Syrian regime. Syria has turned into a large military entrenchment for Iran. The IRGC has set up more than 10 military bases, some of which are permanent, in Syrian cities.
In 2012, Iran also found a great window of opportunity to significantly expand its influence in the Arabian Peninsula by supporting the Houthis in Yemen, militarily, financially and politically. A UN panel conclusively found recently that the Iranian regime was behind the transfer of illegal weapons to the Houthis.
From the perspective of the Iranian regime, its rapidly growing dominance and influence has been a success. Iranian leaders boasted about controlling four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa.
It is worth mentioning that a 40-year period is infinitesimal in the context of the world’s political history. However, the Iranian regime managed in this short period of time not only to consolidate its power but also to considerably expand its influence and dominance, from Lebanon and Syria to Iraq and Yemen, and even into some European and Latin American nations.
The lesson to learn from the four-decade history of the ruling mullahs is crystal clear: if the Iranian regime has accomplished such a remarkable and rapid expansion of influence in such a relatively short period of time, imagine how much further it can extend its hegemony, supremacy and dominance in the event that it is not adequately countered and stopped.
It is incumbent on the international community to put an end to the Iranian regime’s rapidly growing hegemony, and its dangerous and vicious expansion.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council.
Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

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