Exporting Iranian schools to Iraq

Sunday 28/08/2016

It seems that the Iranian regime is taking advantage of every opportunity it can get to infiltrate its neigh­bour Iraq.
Iran’s policy is not new. It falls in line with Tehran’s ideology of “exporting the revolution”, called for by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the former Iranian supreme leader.
Iran’s mullahs have found it easy to exert influence in a region that is politically, eco­nomically and socially bankrupt. The region has become a battle­field between the world’s rival superpowers, who have found a way in via their “war on terror”.
The 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq led to the country being handed to Iran. America’s division of Iraq politically along sectarian lines gave Iran a direct presence in Iraqi corridors of power.
This is not in official US rhetoric but the Iranian influence in Iraq has been met with American support.
For its own reasons, Russia, too, welcomed Iran’s presence in Iraq.
Although Tehran’s grip on the region has played a role in undermining peace and stability, it is seeking to be an accepted force through a campaign of international public relations.
However, Iran’s expansionist project has also relied on its establishing of charity, tourism or religious fronts — exploiting the chaos in Iraq, whose people are in dire need of aid.
Included among those fronts are Iranian schools.
Amid little concern by the international community with the brain drain in the region, as skilled people flee in search of stability, Iran has been filling the void in Iraqi education facilities with its own ideological spread.
The phenomenon of building Iranian schools is not new but many Arab states have awakened to the threat of seeing their citizens indoctrinated to having a sectarian outlook, directed from beyond their borders.
Iraq is the number one recipi­ent of such schools. Children attending them are being raised on an Iranian education system that channels their loyalties to the mullah regime in Tehran.
The government of former Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki allowed the trend of building such exploitative schools to flourish particularly in rural areas, portraying them as “gifts” from Iran.
Some of those schools carry the name of Khomeini.
There is less need for Iran’s foreign intelligence apparatus to recruit agents to serve the interests of Islamic Revolution­ary Guards Corps when Tehran can garner the hearts and minds of generations of Iraqis who are willing to obey the mullahs’ directives.
In the current climate, with the help of these schools among other Iranian-sponsored institu­tions and projects, we can expect for the sectarian divide in Iraq to further widen.
New generations would be brought up brainwashed, separated from Iraq’s cultural identity, having less in common with their compatriots and more loyalty to Iran.
The Iranians are making use of their syllabuses and education projects in Iraq especially via shared religious traditions.
The sense of belonging to one’s branch of faith gradually trans­forms into identifying with another country, one that is hostile towards your own. This would ensure the sectarian bloodshed would continue for generations.