Islamic Fundamentalism and IranPublished by International Liberty on February 23, 2016
Islamic Fundamentalism, which may manifest itself on the streets of France or Yemen and Syria, and its victims may be diverse, is a single issue confronting the globe. It is in fact shrewdly promoted and sustained by a regime, which relies on the phenomenon for its very survival.
The footprint of the theocratic Iranian regime is present throughout the landscape of Islamic Fundamentalism.
Following its defeat in the 8 years long war with Iraq, the Iranian regime began implementing an aggressive foreign policy, by conducting activities in various parts of Middle East and even Africa. It also intensified suppression against the Iranian people, exporting terrorism to harm people living in other countries.
Borders do not curb extremism, especially when an oppressive regime is spreading it to other parts of the world. The Iranian regime is ruled by religious fascism, which cannot coexist with the rest of the world, and therefore the regime will always remain an adversary to global aspirations.
It cannot implement a perverted interpretation of religion to the detriment of its citizens, with the clergy grabbing on to power, and join the world as a legitimate partner. The regime adheres to an expansionist ideology, which seeks to spread its influence by any means necessary, and there are several examples that demonstrate its philosophy put into action.
The Iranian regime has taken it upon itself to save Syria’s brutal dictator Bashar Assad, as it provides him financial, political and military support. Iran-backed Hezbollah is active in the country, as our other Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Yemen.
In Yemen, Iran-backed Houthi rebels are stirring up serious trouble. Since the regime has been allowed access into Iraq under the pretext of ISIS, its militias have been carrying out violence against Sunni communities.
It is naïve to think that the regime is present in Iraq to help the Iraqi people and counter terrorism. It is evident from its practices that it is working on an agenda that cannot be reconciled with what the West and the Iraqi people aspire to.
One may argue that the rise of Sunni terrorist groups in the Middle East and beyond is a reaction to Iran-backed terrorism. Iran is largely responsible for sectarianism in the region as it props up proxies to implement its vision and create space for itself.
The threat of ISIS, which has spread dramatically in recent times, would not have grown if not for Iran’s role in Iraq and Syria. As a brutal state unleashes violence against its people in order to retain power without any legal or moral authority, and an outsider such as the Iranian regime facilitates the oppressor, the reaction is not at all surprising. Its damaging interference has exacerbated sectarian violence, enabled Assad to retain power and helped created the situation as it stands today.
Perhaps the primary reason why the world has so far been unable to curb the menace of Islamic Fundamentalism is because it has failed to identify the source of the problem. The US and other western nations have not acknowledged the role of the Iranian regime in spreading terrorism. They have also been unable to understand the symbolic value and the ideological support that the Iranian regime provides to religious extremism by merely existing as a model to aspire to. What do these different groups, with different names, operating in different parts of the world claim to want? A caliphate where they wish to implement their version of Sharia. The Iranian regime adheres to and practices the same concept, and presents itself as a living example of a place where the clergy usurp power in the name of religion, stifle freedoms and liberties, disregard human rights and suppress the populace through criminalizing everything and inflicting brutal punishments.
The West will have to wake up to the reality of the situation and understand the disastrous role of the Iranian regime. Providing legitimacy to the regime through trade or diplomacy is counterproductive to the efforts being made to counter fundamentalism.
Appeasement by making concessions in nuclear deals will only serve to embolden the regime, and it will respond by intensifying its operations. The de-escalation sought by the West will never come. It will be much easier to defeat Islamic Fundamentalism once the enemy has been clearly identified. The international community will have to ensure the eviction of Iran from Iraq and Syria. Its presence in these countries will undermine all positive efforts, and lead to a greater crisis in the future.
Ultimately, the Iranian regime has to be overthrown to cut the source, which feeds the cesspool of terrorism. For this purpose, the international community will need to pay heed to voice of the Iranian people. They do not share the regime’s vision and continue to aspire and resist despite severe oppression. The rest of the world would do well to recognize them and empower them, and own their struggle, for in their success, lies the solution to the problem faced by the globe.