Is the Islamic Republic winning the battle for regional hegemony?
As the nuclear negotiations between the P5+1 (the US, Russia, China, France and Britain plus Germany) and Iran is progressing, and the Rouhani-Obama rapprochement is ratcheting up, the Islamic Republic of Iran has expanded the military operations of its IRGC and intensified its interventionist policies across the region.
Instead of warning the Islamic Republic, the Obama administration is still contemplating coopering with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Quds forces to fight in Iraq. Secretary of State John Kerry, who flew to Iraq last Monday, pointed out that the United States “is open to discussions if there’s something constructive that can be contributed by Iran.”
This message indirectly empowers Iran’s pursuit of its regional hegemonic ambitions, legitimizes the Islamist state and its Islamist institution, and emboldens the Islamic Republic to rapidly pursue its nuclear program. As Prime Minister Netanyahu said last Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press program, “I think by far the worst outcome that could come out of this is that one of these factions, Iran, would come out with nuclear weapons capability. That would be a tragic mistake.”
With the assistance of its Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been masterfully capable of creating a Shiite Islamic Crescent, which stretches from Iran to Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, in order to achieve its ideological and Islamic purposes.
First, the Islamic Republic created Hezbollah, then dominated Syria by supporting the Alawite (offshoot of Shiism) regime of Bashar Al-Assad, and ensured the dominance of Shia over Sunni Islam in Iraq.
Quds forces, which the Islamic Republic dispatches for ideological and sectarian purposes to other countries (such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq), are among the most experienced cadre of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Quds forces, led by General Qassem Soleimani, are a secretive branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and a paramilitary arm of the IRGC. Soleimani, who helped build Hezbollah, has been characterized as "the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today."
Under the presidency of so-called moderate Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and Quds forces have expanded their military and intelligence operations throughout the region. A defected Syrian minister pointed out that Syria is no longer run by Bashar Al-Assad, but rather by the senior cadre of the Quds forces and IRGC. The increasing activities of Iran’s ministry of intelligence, IRGC and Quds forces can be clearly seen across the region.
The IRGC’s key mission is to preserve the ideals, principles, and values of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, which were outlined by its founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. There are two crucial tenets to these revolutionary ideals: anti-Americanism and anti-Israelism. Defying the United States and obstructing US foreign policy in the region as well as not recognizing Israel as a state are some of the most fundamental objectives of the IRGC.
Their ultimate goal is to export the ideals, principles and values of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the whole world. According to many credible reports, the IRGC has been involved in several terrorist acts across the region and even in the West. One of the crucial issues that U.S. State Department uncovered was the "marked resurgence of Iran's state sponsorship of terrorism, through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps–Quds Force, its Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and Tehran's ally Hezbollah.” According to the U.S. State Department, country reports on terrorism, the terrorist activities by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps–Quds Force, its Ministry of Intelligence and Security "have reached a tempo unseen since the 1990s."
Under the leadership of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the IRGC has become a gigantic economic player in the Islamic Republic of Iran while owning most of Iran’s economic power, industries and operating on the black market enterprise.
Many members and governmental officials in Iran, who strongly defend the work of the IRGC and the principles of the Iranian Islamic revolution, are called principlists. They view the United States and Israel as everlasting enemies and rivals.
Even Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, who is projected as a rational, moderate, and prudent person that pursues leniency in foreign policy, has joined the voice of the IRGC and Iran’s Supreme Leader by directly warning other countries against assisting ISIL. Recently, he pointed out that some countries “feed terrorists by their petrodollars.” He warned that this support will have repercussions on those countries which “feed terrorists.”
A crucial and pressing issue is the increasing power and interventionist policies of the IRGC, as well as the export of its Islamic principles to other countries. Instead of only focusing on Iran’s nuclear program, President Obama should include the interventionist role of the IRGC and Quds forces to the negotiating table.
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