Everything you always feared about Iran but were too afraid to admit

Friday 06/11/2015

The political turbu­lence shaking the Middle East region continues to rever­berate as Iran pursues a foreign policy that clearly demonstrates its plan on making itself the prominent power in the Middle East and the Arabian (which they call Persian) Gulf.
Without the sword of Damocles — in the form of international eco­nomic sanctions — dangling over their heads, the Iranians are start­ing to show their true intentions, now that the July 14th nuclear agreement lifted sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Clearly, one of Tehran’s objec­tives — one that confirms the fears of many experts — is flexing its muscles in the region.
Tehran is sparing no costs, including that of human lives, in building a self-serving alliance — some are starting to call it the Shia crescent, a territory stretch­ing from Iran to include Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and, to the south, Yemen.
Iran is intensifying its pres­ence in Syria and Iraq. While the Iranians remain tight-lipped about their military and paramilitary de­ployments and the movement of troops is well guarded, as are the casualty lists, something that has angered many families, a sketch of the numbers involved is starting to emerge by tracking the deaths taking place in Syria.
Indeed, the deaths of many Is­lamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officers in Syria reflects the growing ground presence by Iran’s military there and the possible transformation of the IRGC into a Middle East intervention force.
Such a move would make Iran the de facto po­liceman in the region. This has long been an Iranian desire, since the days of the shah, if not earlier.
None of this is really news, or at least it should not be, were it not for the fact that what some analysts had been predicting is finally showing signs of really happening.
Iran has been quite open regard­ing its long-term plans. It’s just that the West persistently refused to own up and constantly misread the tea leaves.
Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari, who was considered a moderate, laid out Iran’s political aspirations as it was transitioning from being an em­pire under the shah into an Islamic republic under the mullahs as far back as 1979.
The grand ayatollah spoke open­ly about the intended trajectory of the Islamic Republic to anyone who wanted to hear; part of the problem was that not many people heard what he had to say. Both the shah and leader of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, tried to keep him quiet. I met the ayatollah while the shah was trying desperately to remain in power and the clock had started to wind down. Shariatmadari disa­greed with Khomeini over having clergy in the government.
At the time the shah’s army had encircled the holy city of Qom but some of the ayatollah’s disciples managed to get me inside the city.
Today, as Iran begins test-firing ballistic missiles, it demonstrates how it intends to make use of loopholes in the nuclear agree­ment. If Iran seeks peace in the region as it claims, it is certainly walking down the wrong path.
The United States says it is at­tentive to Iran’s moves. Well, it should be. It should have been even more attentive all along. The problem may be that by the time the United States deciphers what is really transpiring in the region it may be too late. As is the case with Syria where the Russians are taking up the slack.