Iran Becoming the Great Power of Western Asia : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Iran Becoming the Great Power of Western Asia NCM Online, July 31, 2001

"We want to transform Iran into a regional Great Power," said former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Mohsin Reza'i in a long interview published in the July 22 issue of the Saudi-financed, London-based, Arabic-language paper As-Sharq al-Ausat (ASAA). Judging from a decade of reading in the Arabic press Iran's image indeed has gone from revolutionary demon to regional Great Power.

"A Great Power is one that another country cannot easily mess around with without paying a heavy price. As commentator Ghassan Al-Imam wrote in the July 10 issue of the ASAA "America recognizes that Iran has a political role and influence in Central Asia and the Middle East and therefore it must get rid of the hare-brained notion that it can 'contain' Iran."

"What caught the interest of the ASAA was that Reza'i, a powerful figure who still is vehemently anti-American, also has high praise for reformist Iran president Mohammad Khatemi. But it also was interested by the fact that Reza'i who has an advanced degree in economics, formulated a scenario that could lead to a resolution of the bitter struggle between Reformers and Conservatives on the Iranian political scene.

"Iran, Reza'i wrote, is facing four deep crises that could, if left unchecked, do serious harm to the Islamic Republic:

"- Unemployment so widespread that Iranians suffer big losses in their incomes.

"- A lack of security so great that, especially in the eastern regions, drugs are flowing in and revenge crimes increasing.

"- A spreading, deep depression, especially among the young and people who are losing all hope in the future,

"- And the weakness and factionalism of the administrative system that started going downhill with the death of the Ayatollah Khomeini and got worse during the presidency of Hashemi Rafsanjani.

"The reason the Iranian state cannot tackle these problems is the struggle between Reformers and Conservatives, so fierce that it turns all politics into stalemate. Reza'i denies that he is organizing a political party. He says there are already too many parties. But he adds that he is proposing a "Third Line." The main accusation he levels against Khatemi is that the latter did little to transform Iran into a Great Power.

"Reza'i says that drugs are pouring in from Afghanistan. He charges that, when some years ago, the Taliban killed a number of Iranian diplomats in northern Afghanistan the Iranian government did nothing. He claims that the instability in eastern Iran is linked in good measure to the threat from Afghanistan.

"And he levels similar charges against Iraq. He charges that by fanning flames of discontent in the western part of the country it is adding to the general insecurity. When the ASAA interviewer said that what he, Reza'i, was proposing was a dictatorship run by himself and his friends, Reza'i denied it but said his Third Line could bring Reformers and Conservatives together and thereby re-unite a badly split Iran.

"Iran is now the only Great Power in West Asia. But before the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) Saddam Hussein envisioned Iraq as the Great Power of the region. He started the war with Iran by invading the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzistan where most of Iran's oil was located and most people were ethnic Arabs. He hoped that Iran, then convulsed by its Islamic revolution, would disintegrate. It didn't.

"Two years later he attacked Kuwait and thought the U.S. would support him. The reason for that erroneous belief was that during the 1980s, the U.S. supported Iraq against Iran. He was wrong and the Bush Sr. people, with their close connections to the oil industry, called for war against Iraq. He then realized that Iraq was not cut out to be a Great Power. So after the Desert Storm onslaught in early 1991, Saddam's main concern was survival as Iraq's solo ruler.

"To the east, the Taliban always have assumed the stance that they had no designs on other countries. But when their reclusive leader, Mullah Omar, had himself named Ameer-ul Mu'mineen, "Commander of the Faithful," Afghanistan's neighbors felt a wind of expansionism was blowing. The title goes back some 1500 years to the first Caliph who launched the new Islam's impressive conquests throughout the Middle East. But Afghanistan is in such shambles that it will be a long time, if ever, that Afghanistan becomes a Great Power.

"But Iran is definitely a Great Power. And Arabs know and acknowledge that. Iran, in fact, is now moving into a historical path of empire that goes back for 2500 years. Iran is the Great Power or Empire of West Asia. It joins India as the Great Power of South Asia, China as the Great Power of East Asia and Russia as the Great Power of North Asia.

"America, as the world's Solo Superpower, knows that it cannot easily mess around with any of them without paying a heavy price."

Compiled by Franz Schurmann

-- Martin Thompson (, August 01, 2001

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