Iran: The supreme leader's regional girdle is tearing apart
Internal, regional, and international developments reinforced by the coronavirus crisis have submerged the Iranian regime's policy of war-mongering and export of fundamentalism and terrorism into a whirlpool of crises.
Iran counts on Syria as its strategic ally. In the last 40 years, and especially the last nine since 2011, it has supported Bashar Assad's regime with a vengeance, spending enormous amounts of money.
In its turn, Tehran uses Syria as a link to Lebanon's Hezb'allah, to supply it with weapons and logistics.
On Feb. 25, 2019, on the invitation of Iran's chief terror master, Qassem Soleimani, Assad, for the first time since the 2011 start of Syria's civil war, visited Tehran unexpectedly, where he met and talked with Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.
In this meeting, Khamenei said the Islamic Republic of Iran's help for the government and nation of Syria is equal to giving help to the "resistance" against the U.S.'s and its allies' pressures, and he honors it dearly.
Hossein Taeb, the head of the Ammar Base Council affiliated with the IRGC, explained the strategic importance of Syria when he said: "Syria is Iran's 35th province. Defending it is a greater priority than defending Khuzestan (Iran's southern province)."
After the onset of the uprising in Syria, when the Iranian regime vastly escalated its cooperation with Assad's regime to suppress it, Hossein Taeb declared: "If the enemy attacks us to invade Syria or Khuzestan, our priority is to preserve Syria. If we hold Syria, we can regain Khuzestan, but if we lose Syria, we will not even be able to hold Tehran."
During the last nine years, the Iranian regime has mobilized all its financial, political, and diplomatic capacity as well as its armaments to confront the uprising of the Syrian people.
Heshmatollah Falahat Pisheh, a member of the Iranian parliament's Security Commission, in an interview with Etemad Online daily on May 20, 2020, said: "We have given maybe 20 to 30 billion dollars to Syria and we must get it back. The nation's money is spent there."
These are the words of a high-ranking security official of the regime. He spoke not because he cares for the Iranian nation and how its money could have been better spent, but because he is in despair at there being so little to show for the years invested in Syria. Not only has the investment borne no fruit, but the regime is facing military setbacks there on a daily basis. Such anxiety reflects the socio-economic dead end of the regime, the people of Syria showing they despise it as they target it in its entirety more and more each day. Recently, the Syrian military forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have deployed heavy contingents of troops to confront protests against Iran's presence in Daraa, but the protesters remain undeterred. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the protests have spread throughout the province, with demonstrators calling, "Liberate Syria, Iran out!"
However, having in mind the creation of a completely new situation in Iran because of continuous uprisings such as Iran's youth uprising in November 2019 in 198 cities; the elimination of the regime's main architect in pursuing its policy, Qassem Soleimani; the regime's congenital inability to confront the coronavirus crisis; and the polarization of interests between Iran and Russia in Syria and regular blows to the regime's affiliated forces and bases there, it seems that there is little choice left for this regime other than to revise its policy.
If we put the developments in Syria beside the uprising of the Iraqi people and the riots in Lebanon, we can portray a new vision for the future in which the mullahs' regime will be swept from the countries of the region. And, as Mullah Taeb put it, this will be accompanied by washing away the dictatorship from Iran.
Hassan Mahmoudi, social analyst, researcher, is an independent observer and commentator of Middle Eastern and Iran tweets @hassan_mahmou1.
Image credit: farsi.khameini.ir, via Wikimedia Commons.