Iran has effectively achieved its goal of becoming a major player in the Middle East, and it’s biggest allies in attaining that goal have been time and the United States. This may seem contrary to stated US foreign policy, but it’s emerged as a simple fact on the mishandling and misunderstanding of the politics in the region by the current US administration. Without going into whether particular actions were necessary from a US point of view, here’s the timeline of the last 5 years from Iran’s point of view:
2001 – The US removes Iran’s primary distraction on their eastern borders in the destruction of the Taliban regime. Prior to that time, Iran had spent a lot of effort protecting Hazaris in the west of Afghanistan from the slaughters the Taliban liked to conduct there. Without the Taliban in power, Iran’s self imposed obligation to defend these people vanished.
2003 – The US removes Iran’s primary distraction and primary enemy on the western borders with the destruction of the Hussein regime. Aside from the catastrophic 8 year war with Iraq in the 80s, Hussein offered aid and protection to the opposition factions operating within Iran and was continually a threat to Iran’s ambition to be the majority local player.
2004 – The US efforts in Iraq fail to quell the Sunni insurgency and the revenge culture of the nation makes the political scene ripe for the thousands of Shi’ite clerics and businessmen pouring over the border from Iran to establish themselves as leaders withing their communities. To date, it is estimated Iran has over 40,000 trained and armed operatives within Iraq and Iran funds virtually all of the Shi’a militias who are so wantonly dragging Sunnis into open streets and shooting them in Baghdad.
2005 – Elections in Iraq push the Iranian backed Shi’ite parties into majority power. This was a massive win for Iran in the area as they now have allies in positions of power all the way from India through to the Mediterranian. It was nicely summed up by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, leader of the Guardian Council in Iran when he said “Iraq is now going through its election cycle. The election results are very good.”
2006 – Iran’s nuclear ambitions come under heavy fire in international politics but are all but ignored after Hezbollah (an Iranian controlled group in Lebanon) successfully taunt Israel into starting the bloodiest general attacks on Lebanon in a decade, diverting the world’s attention from Iran to the rekindled Israeli/Lebanese confrontation.
Now we find that the US has exhausted its political will for occupation of Arab nations and the world is crying against Israel’s attacks on Lebanon, and the US’s inaction on the matter. Iran continues with its nuclear programs and continues to pour trained and armed troops in Iraq. Iraq’s Prime Minister Malikii, a strong Hezbollah and Iranian ally, receives ovations on the floor of the US congress even as he refuses to renounce his strong condemnation of Israel.
Iran has the US right where it wants it. Iran can ignore US threats and refusals to deal diplomatically while stretching its arm across the Middle East to spark off wars. Iran can sit “innocently” by on an international stage condemning the Israeli government and their US allies for the loss of Lebanese life as they continue to arm and strengthen Hezbollah. Iran can now spark fires wherever and whenever it wants to distract the world’s diplomatic process. They took the “if you aren’t with us then you’re against us” rhetoric and drove it to the ultimate conclusion of isolating the US as it tried to cast players in black and white in the hopeless shades of grey inside the Middle East.
All I’m waiting for now is the Iranian response if and when the US decides to attack their nuclear facilities. Given America’s rapid retreat from Beirut in 1983 when 241 Marines were killed by Hezbollah, just what will the reaction be if Katushya rockets start flying from the Shi’ite majority factions into the Baghdad Green Zone where US forces are conveninetly packed on top of each other in a nice pile for rocket targets?
Iran did nothing of note in the last 5 years. They just let Time and America take out their enemies for them so they could establish a commanding position in the region.