December 17, 2017


How Iran, the Mideast's new superpower, is expanding its footprint across the region - and what it means (Scott Peterson, DECEMBER 17, 2017, CS Monitor)

"If there were no Iranian weapons, then ISIS would be sitting on this couch," says Hashem al-Mousawi, a spokesman for Nujaba, gesturing toward an overstuffed sofa as an aide serves chewy nougats from Iran.

"Our victory over ISIS is a victory for all humanity," says Mr. Mousawi.

And also a victory for Iran, which has emerged from the anti-ISIS battlefields in Iraq, Syria, and beyond as an unrivaled regional superpower with more hard- and soft-power capacity to shape events in the Middle East than it has ever before experienced.

Until now, Shiite Iran had met with only limited success trying to expand its influence across the mostly Sunni Islamic world, despite the call decades ago to "export the revolution" by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

But today - on the back of years of Iranian military intervention to fight ISIS and bolster its allies abroad, years of diminishing US leadership, and repeatedly outsmarting and outmuscling its chief regional rival, Sunni Saudi Arabia - Iran has emerged as the dominant power in the region.

One narrative of the modern Middle East is of potentates trying to stamp their imprint across these often volatile states. From Egypt's Pan-Arabist Gamal Abdel Nasser, to Iraq's Saddam Hussein, to the theocrats in Tehran today, the region has served as the world's premier crucible for rulers to forge geopolitical hegemony, often with failed results. This is to say nothing of the intrusive meddling of the US, Russia, and other outside powers over the decades.

But now Iran has achieved milestones of leverage and influence that rival any regional power in the past half-century. While there are limits to how far it can extend its authority, Tehran's rapid rise poses new challenges to the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia as it undermines their previous dominance. In a region already reeling from multiple wars, the residue of the Arab Spring uprisings, and a deepening Sunni-Shiite divide, the fundamental question is this: How far can Tehran extend its reach?

Ironically, the first steps of Iran's ascendancy came as a result of American actions. 

Every step of the WoT has favored self-determination against Salafi authoritarianism/totalitarianism, which is why America and Iran have acted in concert, intentionally or not.  Indeed, Iran has been on the right side of every misstep we've made--all of which have involved not embracing victories by Islamist democratic parties (in Palestine, Egypt and Lebanon).

Posted by at December 17, 2017 12:15 PM