Islamabad: Iran’s emergence as the Islamic revolutionary state in 1979 was a hope for the Islamic revolutionaries in the Middle East that urged Tehran to extend its moral and financial support to them.
Starting off in 1979, Iran’s relations with like-minded groups in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, and Palestine, have grown over the period of time and become a source of ‘great influence’ in the region. However, Tehran’s growing ties with like-minded groups have troubled its relations with the host countries. These were the views expressed by the panelist in an international event, organized by the Institute of Regional Studies on Iran’s Middle East Relations.
Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Debbie, who was a Middle East Correspondent of a US-based news agency ‘The Media Line’, said that Iran was the first ever Islamic revolutionary state established in the region and was a hope for the revolutionaries throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East. However, Iran’s revolution was not well received by the regional countries, particularly by those who were at odds ideologically. Yet, Tehran was able to consolidate its position through establishing links initially with one group inside Lebanon where three religious communities were dominant; Muslims, Christians, and Jews, that later formed Hezbollah, she added. Hezbollah was a multi-faceted party with a political and military wing that had its presence in the Lebanese parliament, she said. In Syria, Iran’s support to like-minded groups provided access to Palestine. Ms. Debbie also added that Iran also supported Popular Mobilization Forces, a unique party that had various military wings. In Yemen, reports suggested that Iran supported Houthis, she said. She lamented that Iran and Saudi Arabia’s tussle through proxies in Yemen led to the worst humanitarian crisis in the country.
Another speaker, Ms. Silvia Boltuc, Managing Director at Special Euraisa, said that during the first decade after the revolution, Iran focused more on exporting the revolutionary ideology and protecting the government system from external threats. She was of the view that the Iranian revolution was a matter of great concern for the US but initially Washington underestimated Iran’s ties with the several groups in the region that could potentially enhance Tehran’s influence. The US approach towards Iran particularly focused on its relationships with the various groups in the Middle East spoke volumes about US’s apprehensions as the current CENTCOM head also highlighted, she added. Ms. Boltuc was of the view that maintaining ties with like-minded groups has become an important foreign policy tool for Iran as it had not only helped Iran in advancing its interests in the region but also in countering its enemies. She blamed the international environment as fragile as it allowed Tehran to have smooth relations with its proxies which otherwise was not sustainable.
While concluding the session, Mr. Fraz Naqvi said that the Middle East had an important place in Iran’s foreign policy and world needed to understand the complexities associated with Iran’s Middle Eastern outreach.
- Press Release