Palestine and the Iranian project
The commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Mohammad Ali Jafari, has been showing off Iran’s power and influence. His second-in-command went so far as to boast that Iran is capable of targeting Europe because its missiles have a range of 2,000km.
The Iranian show of force reflects Iran’s unease with the way things are evolving against it regionally and internationally. It indicates Iran’s readiness to build a legitimising base for its influence in the region and internationally considering negotiations taking place on a settlement plan for the crisis in Syria. Jafari clearly indicated through his description of Hezbollah’s future role in Syria and in confronting Israel that the weapons and role of the Lebanese militia are Iranian matters.
These declarations by Iranian officials render talk in Beirut about the need to observe a “dissociation policy” null and void. Saad Hariri had required that Hezbollah agree to commit to this policy before he considered returning to his role as Lebanese prime minister. The declarations reveal Iran’s total disregard for Lebanon’s presidency. When he made his remarks, Jafari was very much aware of Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s position on the “dissociation policy.”
Iran’s plan in the context of an eventual settlement in the region is to duplicate Hezbollah’s model everywhere in the Arab region. The model relies on imposing pairing power. So along with the official state there would be a mini-state of the pro-Iranian party and the army will be paired with the party’s militia.
The strategy is already operational in Lebanon with the presence of Hezbollah, in Iraq with al-Hashed al-Shabbi, in Syria with the national defence forces and in Yemen with the Houthis. Iran will try to impose this model as an essential condition in any future regional settlement.
At its core, the Iranian model seeks to maintain a state of crisis in the countries where it exists. Local authorities would be dependent on outside power balances and that would make it impossible to build a state based on a national constitution.
Identity conflicts based on sectarian discrimination would continue to rage inside society. The Iranian model denies the existence of state authority and the concept of a united national population. It refuses to accept the view that a stable state is necessary for political, economic and social stability.
Iran’s obsession with the Arab region is essentially rooted in its own interests. The same is true of all other countries with an eye on the Arab region. The region is viewed only from the angle of others’ narrow interests.
The problem with Iran’s policies for the region, however, is to be found in the structuring principles of the Iranian project for the Arab region. In the last couple of decades, we have come to know quite a lot about this project and its instruments. Iran has based its influence abroad on breaking apart targeted societies by investing in sectarian strife.
This is normal since the ideological basis for the regime in Iran, and which the IRGC is promoting abroad, relies on sectarian specificity. It refuses allegiance to the concepts of a nation or a country and insists on allegiance to Iranian ideology and its central figure, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iranian ideology may take different forms and shapes depending on the targeted societies but its objective remains the same. For example, the Iranian regime has used the struggle against Israel not as an opportunity to foster unity in the Palestinian camp but to garner power for its project for the Arab region and the world. Thus, the Palestinian question has been used at the service of the Iranian project rather than the Iranian project being put in place to serve the Palestinian struggle.
Iran had tried to ensure its presence along some border with Israel or inside the Palestinian territories. To do so, it was necessary to eliminate resistance on the field that does not accept allegiance to Iran. This is what happened in Lebanon with Syrian support from 1985-91. It also happened inside the Palestinian territories by driving a wedge of discord among the Palestinians themselves.
The Iranian regime did everything it could to smear former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and take away his historical role as bearer of the movement for an independent Palestine. After Arafat’s death in 2004, Iran continued its dirty deeds. Iran has always championed armed resistance in the Palestinian territories. It was discovered that the primary objective of that policy was serving Iranian interests. For the Palestinians, it only brought more misery and a regression of their cause.
When Israel bombed Gaza in 2008 and nearly wiped it out, the Iranian regime was of course mad and put on the usual indignation show but when Syrian President Bashar Assad was nearly pushed out of Syria, the Iranian regime rushed to his rescue. Once again, the Iranian project comes first. The Palestinian question exists only to serve the sinister goals of that project.