(/sites/default/files/uploads/2014/09/APTOPIX-UN-General-As_Horo-e1411668283485.jpg)Although the Islamic State has gained the global spotlight in the media due to its brutality and barbarism, it is critical not to be distracted from the larger threat posed from the ruling Ayatollahs and politicians in the Islamic Republic of Iran. As former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger stated in an interview with NPR, Iran “is a bigger problem than ISIS.”
On other other hand, while Iranian leaders proclaim that they are fighting the Islamic State, there are many similarities between the Islamic Republic and the Islamic State. Let us unravel the commonalities and differences between the Islamic Republic and the Islamic State from several angles such as ideological, strategic, geopolitical, military, as well as human rights perspectives.
Ideologically and religiously speaking, although the fighters of the Islamic State are predominantly Sunnis and the ruling politicians of Islamic Republic of Iran are Shiite, there exist several underlying similarities between these two entities.
Both groups believe that Islam should be a dominant element in the political, social, cultural and economic affairs of the territories they govern. By Islam, they mean the literal application of Quranic verses and the Hadith – Muhammad’s sayings, his way of life, etc.
When it comes to specific Islamic and Shari’a laws and rules, Iran and ISIS apply the same doctrine. For example, if an adulterer is arrested, she or he should be stoned. Body amputations, tortures, rapes, executions, religious discriminations, oppressions, and the elimination of any one who disagrees with their ideology are prevalent in the activities of both groups.
On the other hand, the Islamic Republic has enshrined its Islamic and Shari’a laws in its Islamic judiciary, legislative, and executive branches, in a more sophisticated matter in order to legitimize its actions and in order to avert any global outcry and attention.
Both the Islamic Republic and the Islamic State are attempting to spread their version of Islam to other territories in the Muslim and non-Muslim world. The Ayatollahs in Iran fulfill this action in a more clandestine way by funding Shiite and religious schools and movements (such as Hezbollah) in other countries, as well as by interfering in the domestic affairs of other nations through their Quds forces and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Islamic State carries out these objectives by their offensive attacks to various territories.
In other words, the religious objective of both groups is maintaining an Islamic state, ruling by the religion of Islam and Muhammad, and spreading their version of Islam to other nations.
When it comes to human rights violations, the Islamic Republic enjoys a much heftier file of human rights abuses with regard to executions, persecution of religious minorities, tortures, amputations, etc. While the Islamic State has been carrying out these atrocities in the last few years, the Islamic Republic began its barbarism with its establishment in 1979.
Militarily speaking, the Islamic Republic of Iran poses a much more serious threat than the Islamic State due to the fact that Iranian clerics possess much more stronger and sophisticated armies, ballistic missiles (which can reach Israel), nuclear programs, and defense systems.
While it remains to be seen whether the Islamist militants of the Islamic State are yet capable of establishing a state and capturing more territories, the Islamic Republic had already established a state run by Islamic doctrine of Shiism, with a large territories – approximately 640,000 square miles excluding their influence and dominance in Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria. As Kissinger pointed out,
The borders of the settlement of 1919-‘20 are essentially collapsing… That gives Iran a very powerful level from a strategic point of view. I consider Iran a bigger problem than ISIS. ISIS is a group of adventurers with a very aggressive ideology. But they have to conquer more and more territory before they can became a strategic, permanent reality. I think a conflict with ISIS — important as it is — is more manageable than a confrontation with Iran.
Strategically speaking, while the Islamic State might pose some threats in some parts of Iraq, the Islamic Republic presents a more serious threat through its control over the Strait of Hormoz, where approximately 20 percent of the world’s petroleum (and nearly 35% of the total petroleum traded through sea), passes through the strait. Iran has threatened repeatedly that it will shut down the strait. Iran already possess an advanced nuclear program that is a step away from developing an atomic bomb. In addition, the Islamic Republic is quietly attempting to significantly alter the military balance of power in the Gulf more to its favor. As IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly stated, “Iran’s Khalij Fars anti-ship ballistic missile (AShBM) – a weapon that could shift the military balance in the Gulf region – is being delivered to operational units, according to the US Department of Defense’s annual report to Congress on the Islamic Republic’s military capabilities.”
While the politicians and mainstream media have concentrated on the threat of the Islamic State, the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is a much more critical threat militarily, strategically, religiously and ideologically, is quietly enjoying and continuing its nuclear program and developing more sophisticated anti-ship ballistic missile, and weaponries which are also being exported to other terrorist groups.
More fundamentally, the Islamic State has averted the world’s attention from the Islamic Republic’s efforts to build an atomic bomb. This year’s United Nations General Assembly in New York focused mainly on the threat of the Islamic State, while the Islamic Republic enjoyed not being criticized for its nuclear program. As Israel’s ambassador to the United States pointed out, a nuclear Iran is “thousand times” more dangerous to the world than the Islamic State. Nevertheless, we still need to wait for a robust leadership from the United States to take a strong stance against the Ayatollahs and ruling politicians in Iran who continue to carry out gregarious human rights abuses, support terrorism, and threaten the security of other nations.
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