The pathology of Iran’s worldview and its self-perceived mission goes back all the way to the revolution of 1979 and Ayatollah Khomeini who chillingly declared that ‘We shall export our revolution to the whole world. Until the cry, ‘there is no god but God’ resounds over the whole world, there will be struggle.’
The Cold war context of the Iranian Revolution was significant. The Mullahs who took power were fired by a medieval version of Islam. This was combined with the idea the perceived threat of godless communism. Ironically, the new Iranian regime adopted elements of the very totalitarian apparatus found at the time in the Soviet Union and China. Although the world has moved on since those times of paranoia and the export of ideology, Iran has not. It is a state set upon endless opposition to modernity and fixated on shaping the world according to its own agenda.
From Africa to Europe and even in Latin America Iran has worked tirelessy to spread its ‘revolution.’ Jordan Steckler of the United Against Nuclear Iran organisation writes ‘Since the 1979 establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranian regime has sought to export its revolutionary ideology in an effort to establish Iranian hegemony in the Islamic world. American diplomat Henry Kissinger has remarked on several occasions that Iran needs to decide “whether it wants to be a nation or a cause.” In fact, the need to spread the Islamic Revolution beyond Iran’s borders is ingrained in the principles of Khomeinism, Iran’s guiding ethos.’
This spread of power and influence has now reached a critical peak and this is why the US is perceived by many to be moving towards a new confrontation with Iran. Jordan Steckler says that ‘President Rouhani boasted about Iran’s regional clout in October 2017, stating, ‘No decisive actions can be taken in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, North Africa and the Gulf region without Iran’s consent.’
This hard edge of Iran’s ambitions is manifested in the IRGC. Once more, taking its cues from revolutionary communism Iran created zealous vanguard to deliver its aims. The IRGC is defined in Iran’s constitution, under article 150, as the ‘guardian of the Revolution and its achievements.’
The IRGC acts with no accountability to the people of Iran, except through its loyalty to the Mullah Regime in Tehran. Jordan Steckler provides a sobering assessment of the impact that the IRGC has had in the Middle East when he states that ‘Iran and its proxies’ entry into the battle have preserved the Assad regime...at great cost to Iran’s regional standing due to the brutal human toll of the conflict, which has killed over 400,000 to date and created over 5 million refugees according to U.N. estimates.’
He goes on to examine the effect of the IRGC in Iraq, ‘in the form of support for sectarian policies by pro-Iranian government figures and backing of Shi’a militias also served to fan the flames of sectarian tensions, provoking widespread Sunni dissatisfaction and creating conditions which enhanced the potency of ISIS.’
This is supported by figures such as Mehdi Khalaji of the Washington Institute who writes ‘The Revolutionary Guards actively prevent steps toward democratic reforms.’ In his recent paper he examines the rise of the IRGC as the main instrument of Iran’s ambitions. ‘Once a theocratic state, the Islamic Republic has evolved into a "garrison state...in which the military dominates political, economic, and cultural life. The Iranian constitution forbids the supreme leader from being fully autocratic, but Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has used his position as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, especially his tight control over the Revolutionary Guards, to expand his power.’
The latest rise in tensions have been created solely by Iran’s provocation. The imminent arrival of the US 5th Fleet in the Straits of Hormuz shows that Iran may well have finally overplayed its hand. Many continue to wonder why Iran continues to act in such a radically aggressive and expansionist fashion. There are those in Europe who wish to entice Iran back to the negotiation table.
However, all the signs are that it is no use attempting to negotiate with the Mullah Regime which will always act according to the defining principles of Khomeinism. The Iranian state is a bitter and outdated relic, trapped in its own paradigm of Persian grandeur and religious fundamentalism. This is why many call for regime change in Iran, knowing as they do, that there will never be a lasting peace in the region until the Mullahs have been consigned to history.
Right now US hard power is the only force willing to stare the tyrants of Tehran down and threaten them with harsh chastisement for all their crimes.