Asharq Al-awsat English https://aawsat.com/english Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper http://feedly.com/icon.svg

The West’s Grievance on Iran Mirrors Our Own

The West’s Grievance on Iran Mirrors Our Own

Tuesday, 20 December, 2022 - 12:00

Has the West woken up to the fact that Iran is a global problem rather than a regional problem limited to the Middle East?


The international community’s misguided view of the Iranian project has led to this project being framed within the context of confessional competition between Sunnis and Shiites or national competition between Arabs and Persians. This has left the gravity of the revolutionary Velayet e-Faqih regime consistently underestimated.


As a result, the international approach, largely shaped by American political elites, for addressing this project has focused exclusively on Iran’s nuclear program. Fears surrounding this program have marginalized the most destabilizing aspects of the Iranian project, which is centered around sectarian militias armed with drones and missiles, as well as assassination squads constantly working to undermine the social fabric of their countries and deepen sectarian and ethnic divisions. The excessive emphasis on Iran’s nuclear program has also been an obstacle to understanding Iran’s intentions. The latter does not seek, through its attempts to dominate neighboring countries or undermine the legitimacy of their political seeks, hegemony for its own sake. Rather, Iran’s aim is to break down the foundation of regional alliances with the West.


The bothersome actions of Iran in the region do not only aim to undermine Saudi Arabia as a country but to undermine the Kingdom’s political system. Iran sees this political system as a pillar of the strategic architecture of American influence, which Iran seeks to destroy and change. The same is true for all of Washington’s other allies in the Middle East.


This unsound conception of Iran’s project and its goals has created tensions between Washington and its allies, who have lost their voice talking about the missiles, drones, and militias, explaining that they are just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, as the nuclear program. Indeed, for a period, it seemed as though this program was the only lens through which the Americans saw the region and its problems.


It seems that things will never be the same after the Russian- Ukrainian conflict, or we hope so, at least. We have all heard National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby warn that “Iran and Russia are trying to deepen their defense partnership,” which includes “the development of a joint production facility in Russia for Iranian drones.”


Kirby also affirmed that cooperation between Russia and Iran is not just about the production of drones, “which of course the Russians will use to propagate more violence on the Ukrainian people… It’s about this deepening relationship, which is not only not good for the people of Ukraine, it’s not good for the people of the Middle East.”


In similar statements, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has said aid in the relationship between Tehran and Moscow was “having an impact on the battlefield in Ukraine.” “I think it can have an even more dangerous impact on the Middle East as well if it continues. So, it’s something that we take very, very seriously,” he added.


Last October, the "New York Times" quoted current and former US officials with access to classified intelligence who stressed that Iran had sent IRGC military advisers to Crimea to help the Russians operate Iranian drones.


The US is not the only Western power worried about the evolution of the military alliance between Russia and Ukraine. The United Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward, has spoken about Russian plans to acquire more Iranian weapons, including hundreds of ballistic missiles.


These are the same missiles and drones that Iran’s militias in Yemen and Iraq have used to attack Gulf cities and facilities. Nonetheless, the leaders of the countries targeted were told to exercise restraint after every attack, as the priority was getting the nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran over the line!


These are the same advisors who manage Iran’s interests in the Lebanese, Iraqi, Syrian, and Yemeni “arenas.” They also lead local militias that the West has always labeled “members of the local community,” and its military activities were framed as “communal infighting.”


If the growing level of cooperation between Russia and Iran in Ukraine presents an opportunity, it is to redefine the conflicts raging in the Middle East and redefine the place Iranian proxies occupy within these conflicts. Indeed, neither is the Yemeni crisis a humanitarian crisis as some in the West claim nor are Iran’s militias in Lebanon and Iraq members of the local communities that should be dealt with within the framework of political cooperation in pluralistic societies.


In Yemen, Iran has created a regional proxy war against Washington itself, not Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, by intervening in the same manner that is intervening in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Iran is behaving similarly in Lebanon and Syria, where it is exploiting communal divisions, in the same way, that it took advantage of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All of these actions are intended to change the international order and the framework for international relations set up by Washington, though Iran does not have the capacity to achieve this haughty ambition.


The West’s grievances regarding Iran’s role in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine apply to our grievances before anything else. This is a political, diplomatic, and journalistic opportunity for us in the Middle East to develop a narrative that links our apprehensions with those of the West, thereby showing them the truth about our problem with Iran and disputing the version of this problem in West’s political, academic, and journalistic imagination.


Iran does not target the powers it has been attacking because they are Arab or Sunni. At the very least, this is not the only reason. Its hostile actions are primarily founded on an ideology and strategic ambition to destroy the West’s network of alliances in the Middle East. Indeed, the leaders of the targeted countries are now asking: where is Washington? They are not demanding that anyone fight on their behalf but ask for an ally to join them in the battle they are supposedly fighting together, especially since these countries are being targeted because of their alliance first and foremost.


Other opinion articles

Editor Picks

Multimedia