FROM rising up against the Anglo-American-Zionist-Saudi alliance, developing indigenous defence equipment, to acting as the ideologue to the Muslims (both Shias and Sunnis) worldwide, to being home to the largest living Jewish Community in the middle east, to forging economic and military ties with world powers like Russia and China, to being one of the most modern and successful democracies, Iran is emerging as force to be reckoned with, in the rather unstable middle east. Also, a macro regional, and a more than just a micro geo-political player.
Iran, the successor state to the famed Parthian and Sassanid Empire rightly boasts of having civilisation past of more than six thousand years. From great kings like Darius the Great, Xerses the Conqueror, and being the mother of Islamic revolutionary, visionary and leader Imam Khomeini, Iran has been through it all. In this backdrop, Iranians/Persians can claim to have a marshal ancestry. By all means, Iran and Iranians can be very well classified amongst the most cultivated and civilised nations to exist on the face of the earth.
Having said that, however, Iran now has to be realistically looked at in the light of current geo-political and geo-economic threat perceptions. Some of them being as under:
Iran and Iraq:
The issue is diverse and that time is of the essence. Hence, refraining from going into details, it must be safe to say that, in the ancient times, it was only when the Persia (modern day Iran) conquered Babylon (now Baghdad), capital of Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq), was Iran able to spread its influence. Thus, establishing an empire stretching from the Nile to the Hindukush. In fact ancient Persian capital was stationed at Ctesiphon, which would be located in present day Iraq.
Therefore, because of the geographic location of modern day Iraq, Iran could use it as a strategic launch pad to Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and the Levant. Besides, it also is helpful to maintaining rather friendly ties with various ethnic groups like the predominantly Kurds, the Arab Shia population as well as friendly Iraqi Sunni groups. Which is why, Iran is so vehement in its rather constant tug of war with the Saudis to have maximum influence in this part of the region. Therefore, negating the rather extremely short sighted view that Shia Iran wants Shia majority Iraq to be on its side.
Iran and the Resistance/Guerrilla Groups:
It is an open secret that Iran maintains an anti Saudi-Wahhabi-Anglo-American-Zionist axis stance. Probably, due to the fact that this axis and its proxies have been a reason for the unnecessary and unwarranted bloodshed in the world in general and West Asia region in particular. Be it Palestinians, Lebanon, Syria, and now Yemen. Which is why Iran lends support, both financially, logistically, as well as militarily to these groups, in their rightful struggle against this fascist alliance. It would be apt to mention here that, Iran has extended unconditional support to these groups – religious and ideological inclinations regardless. Example; Hamas is a predominantly a Sunni fighter group while PFLP (a rather leftist group), which was rendered almost defunct after the fall of Soviet Union is also crutched by Iranian support. Not to mention Hezbollah and the like groups.
Iran and Defence:
After the Iran-Iraq war and the US invasion of Iraq, Iran was constrained to take defence and invasion preparedness rather seriously. From an importer of arms, Irans mood was shifted to being self-sufficient and self-reliant in the field of defence. Today Iran is facing repeated military threats from Washington and Tel Aviv over its civilian nuclear programme. (Washington has since signed the deal with Iran much to the chargin of Tel Aviv)
Therefore, from developing indigenous fighter jets, to making the fastest torpedo in the world, to developing state of the art missile technology, Iran can rightly boast of a fair self-sufficiency in the field of defence. Lately, Iran has put up a dazzling display of defence technology by grounding a super advanced American Drone (RQ-170 Sentinel) and reverse engineering it to make its own fleet of drones. Besides, Iran is in the process of procuring the fabled S-300 Missile Defence System from Russia.
Additionally, Iran has made rapid advances in its pursuit for nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Not to mention that Iran is a signatory to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (C.T.B.T.). In fact on the face of it, Iran is fairly a robust country when it comes to conventional weapons as discussed above. Hence, it would be safe to say that, Iran can use its nuclear programme as a bargain to achieve its regional and geo-political goals, rather than using it to make a nuclear weapon.
Iran and Geo-Economics:
It is fact that being oil rich country (second largest oil reserves in the world) Iran is not as prosperous as its other neighbours like Oman, the UAE and the Saudis. Such conditions prevail, due to the fact that, Iran is not a party to the exploitative and monopolistic Petro-Dollar system. Coupled with the draconian US imposed sanctions Iran has been unjustly and illegitimately restrained from achieving its true national potential.
Be that as it may, Iran has not been deterred from economic achievements. Together with Russia and China, Iran is trying real hard to establish a parallel system which would deliver a body blow to the Petro-Dollar. On a micro level, Iran has made advancement in by-passing the Petro-Dollar in shape of Goods For Oil , Gold for Oil or selling Oil for national currencies only to be used as legal tender in reciprocal basis as between the trading countries such as Russia, China and India. Besides, Iran has achieved another milestone, when it opened freight train with Pakistan. And the cherry on top, the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline.
Iran and the Ayatollah:
It must not be forgotten that it was only after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 that Iran was taken to empowerment and away from elitism and American yoke. And such glorious revolution came about at a time when the world was sandwiched between the Rightist Capitalist Block spearheaded by America and the Leftist Communist Block led by the erstwhile Soviet Union. The Iranian Revolution transformed the worlds political spectrum. To have a government of God and not prevailing worldly ideologies. It was due to the unflinching resolve and persevere action of the Imam that united Iran under Islam and proved a body blow to American hegemony. He differentiated between Islam that rather had American colour and reactionary/ radical Islam while believing in the Islam of Allah, the Prophet, and his (The Prophets) traditions. And due to his relentless efforts, the Imam restored independence, sovereignty and individual rights of Iranians which were sold out by the Shah to the West. He was offended by the lack of Islamic faith among the leaders. He rightly thought that, that made the leadership corrupt.
Iran and other Religious and Ethnic Communities:
Iran is home to different religious communities and ethnic groups. Example Kurds, Azeries or Azerbaijanis, Baloch, Arabs. Majority is formed by ethnic Persians. Additionally, largest community of Sephardic Jews call Iran home, representative of whom finds a place in National Consultative Assembly or Majlis. All these people form part of national elector in addition to serve in the civil and armed forces.
What Options Iran Have If Attacked:
Today geo-politically Middle East and North Africa are a theatre of proxy and shadow wars. Almost all world powers are involved, either overtly or covertly, in protecting their geo-political and geo-economic interests. In this entire milieu Iran stands as an island of stability with a flourishing democracy. However, Iran cant remain untouched by the instability brewing up in and around its borders. While, the ISIS threat looms large across the region, an America backed surgical strike by Israel can not be ruled out. Besides, on the face of it, an all out war with the Saudis in the near future seems a possibility as well.
Now the question arises, what shall be options available with Tehran, in the eventuality of its sovereignty being compromised.
1) Iran can use proxies like the Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and the PFLP to upset the order in Israel.
2) There is a vast Persian speaking population in Afghanistan. Therefore, Iran can use its influence to undermine the Wests dominance in the region by fuelling a civil unrest.
3) Iran can also use its influence to persuade the Arab Shia and Hoseini Sunnis and the like populace to aggressively rise against the despots/monarchs in the Arab peninsula like Bahrain, UAE and the Saudi.
4) In Syria as well, Iran exerts sufficient weight to further destabilise the already prevailing fluid security situation.
5) And above all, Iran can use a weapon which would not only have regional, but global consequences. Make no mistake, it is neither conventional nor nuclear. It is economic. Should there be a strike against Iran which in most cases be the Saudi-Wahhabi-Anglo-American Zionist Alliance, Iran can block the Strait of Hormuz (which connects Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and Arabian sea). Pertinently, nearly 40% of worlds oil exports pass through this narrow stretch of water. Such a move would spiral the already fluid global economy into global recession which shall hit the purse/living of every human in the world.
6) Besides, Russia as well as China have pledged an all out support to Iran in case Iran is attacked. Hence, on the conventional side as well, a skirmish with Iran, in the worst case scenario, can lead to an universal all out mutually destructive Nuclear war between America, its allies and Russia, its allies.
To conclude, it would not be out of place to mention here that, Iran is not a country that is to be meddled with without having unimaginable regional and global consequences. Therefore, it would be wise for powers that be to address Irans regional, geo-political and geo-economic concerns and take Iran on board while respecting its sphere of influence and allowing it fair amount of autonomy when it comes to making foreign policy decisions. Iran has already on various political and global fora made it clear that it is open to any dialogue and negotiations based on mutual respect and reciprocity. However, any threat to its sovereignty shall entail a decisive response.
Author is thankful to Advocate Saad Ganaie for research assistance.
Babar Qadri is an advocate with Kashmir High Court. He can be reached at:[email protected]
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