The Islamic Republic of Iran, established following Ayatollah Khomeini’s successful 1979 Revolution, has stood as a remarkable polity, surviving for the last 40 years while withstanding widespread opposition. It’s support for Hezbollah broke the invincible aura of the Israeli war machine.
Now, however, it faces its greatest challenge, since due to exclusivist policies, a strong front – the US-Israel alliance and Gulf regimes – gathers seeking its extinction. The suffering of Iranians is high due to the harshest-ever imposed sanctions.
An objective assessment, as provided in my book, Comparing Political Systems of Islamic Republics; Pakistan and Iran, finds many positive Iranian achievements: admirable social equity in education, health and civil infrastructure; participatory democracy greater than in any Middle-Eastern country; strong defence capability and self-sufficiencies; expanded women’s rights; and science prowess reflected in being the country having the highest rise in research output in 2017.
We see considerable downside too: imposition of hard-line conservative views, questionable judicial decisions, and harsh punishments disenchanted the youth majority from both religion and the leadership, producing secular-minded or sectarian nationalists; high corruption levels; and poor economic performance.
Imam Khomeini’s error in 1989 following criticism by successor-designate, Ayatollah Montazeri, led to the appointment of a lesser leader, Hojjatul-Islam Khamenei, Iran’s Faqihtoday. Negative consequences are evident.
Ayatollah Khamenei firstly, through interfering in vetting election candidates emasculated the socialist voice in parliament and jettisoned Khomeini’s pan-Islamic movement.
Secondly, he antagonised the Sunni world by bolstering Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad and destabilised Yemen by supporting a Houthi takeover. Khamenei’s pan-Shi’a sectarianism infuriated the Saudi royals prodding them further into the US-Israeli camp.
Iran strengthened its influence across Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. Simultaneously terrible civilian atrocities occurred and the worst refugee crisis in modern history.
The situation raises major concerns against Iran projecting its power to Saudi’s north.
Iran supports the Syrian regime to protect supply routes to Hezbollah, but a popularly-elected government would better withstand Israeli aggression.
UN’s International Commission of Inquiry has “overwhelming volume” of testimony and videos documenting war crimes implicating the Syrian regime.
Assad’s forces started killing demonstrators in the 2011 Spring. Government forces used banned chemical weapons, barrel bombs and cluster munitions in civilian areas. “Assad’s planes routinely bombed schools and hospitals”.
The Arab League, OIC, and EU condemned Syria and applied sanctions. Shockingly, the Iranian leader praised al-Assad and confirmed he will continue support. Khamenei thereby became complicit in abetting war crimes.
Of Syria’s 21 million people before the civil war, 500,000 are dead and 5 million emigrated. In 1982 Bashar’s father raised Hama city leaving 10,000-25,000, mostly civilians, dead or wounded – “deadliest act by any Arab government against its own people” in modern times.
Prior to the civil war, 70% of Syrians were Sunnis, 11% Alawites, 10% Christians and 3% Shi’a.
Sunnis are dismayed by the destruction of Damascus – the great centre of Sunni scholarship. International Religious Freedom highlighted that the Bashar government persecutes Sunnis.
Al-Assad incentivized Sunni departures and is overturning the Sunni majority with legislation requiring citizens to register property or risk confiscation. Sunni emigrants are disadvantaged.
In 1722, a discontented Afghan confederacy defeated the illustrious Safavids and ruled Persia – a reminder for Iran it should consider the well-being of Syrian Sunnis.
Iran is, however, one of a few countries standing up to Israel’s turpitude.
With a changing global situation where the US faces determined challenges from the combined might of China and Russia requiring a refocusing of its forces, a window of opportunity for Israel to achieve a US attack on Iran is fast closing.
Veteran journalist, Eric Margolis, warned that the purpose of the just-completed Warsaw Summit “was to lay the ground-work for an anti-Iranian coalition to act as a fig-leaf for an upcoming attack on Iran”.
Saudis, UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Oman, Israel and Egypt attended.
The conference met with a cold welcome from Washington’s European allies, which are engaged in a diplomatic process aimed at saving the 2015 nuclear deal.
Inspite of Iran’s flawed policy towards Syria, the Ummah needs to reject machinations of the US-Israel alliance against Iranian Muslims.
This writer suggests, firstly, if Iran mends fences, leading Sunni countries could re-establish good relations. Iran should offer to meet Saudi Arabia.
Secondly, Iranian leaders should strive for Sunni-Shi’a unity and Iran’s Leader should reinstate Imam Khomeini’s vision for representative governance and Pan-Islamism.
Thirdly, replace the Assad regime by facilitating democratic elections.
Fourthly, Iran could offer to re-establish the former status quo in Yemen and, jointly with Gulf countries, fund Yemen’s peaceful reconstruction.