The Iran Deal Encourages Tehran’s Regional Ambitions

By Rachel Ehrenfeld
Monday, August 24th, 2015 @ 11:11PM

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Left: Iranian students hold pictures of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in front of an anti-US mural, painted on the wall of the former US Embassy in Tehran. (photo credit:REUTERS)

In complete contrast to Obama’s claim that the concessions to Iran will convince the totalitarian regime to change its belligerent nature and will instead focus on rebuilding its economy, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and officials under him have no intention to fulfill Obama’s daydream.  To the contrary, Khamenei have been using every occasion to preach war against the U.S.

Last week, Khamenei, his hand-picked “moderate” Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, his foreign minister and chief negotiator to the agreement with the P5+1, Mohammad Javad Zarif and other members of the Iranian government addressed the annual meeting of Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly, an organization tasked with spreading Shi’a around the globe, which gets its orders directly from the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader. Khamenei noted that the U.S. has failed to get its way in the region and Iran will see to it that it will never be allowed back. He and other Iranian functionaries assured Iran’s “regional partners” that the nuclear deal will allow it to do more for them. And calling for Sunni-Shiite cooperation against “radical Islam,” Khamenei’s clear goal in curtailing ISIS, is to achieve Sunni subservience to Shiite Iran and accepting it as hegemon in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere.

Addressing Westerners, however, the good lister Zarif is. he used Obama’s words at the ceremony to reopen the British embassy in Tehran today. “Today we have entered a new stage of ties based on mutual respect, policy of constructive interaction and dialogue,” he said. At the same time, he made it clear that allowing any official U.S. presence in Tehran, would not happen until “a change” in the U.S.  “illogical attitude attitude and behavior” towards Iran.

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Information’s Spotlight on Iran, highlighted statements made by Khamenie and the others at the Ahl al-Bayt conference:

“The Supreme Leader gave a speech in which he stressed the need to fight the United States’ escalating efforts to infiltrate the region and increase its political influence. He claimed that when the Americans and ‘Zionists’ saw the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt collapse they decided to topple the other countries in the Middle East, beginning with Syria.”

Khamenei “claimed the wars currently being fought in Iraq, Syria and Yemen were political, not religious wars, and stressed that Iran was committed to supporting “ he oppressed people” in the Middle East, whether Shi’ite or Sunni. He added that Iran regarded the Palestinian problem as the most important issue facing the Arab-Muslim world and would support anyone who fought against Israel. He claimed that contrary to what was alleged about Iran, it did not intervene in the internal affairs of other states, like Bahrain and Yemen, but would continue to support the peoples of the region” (Fars News Agency, August 17, 2015).

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani told the conference that the Islamic Revolution in Iran flew the flag of Islamic renaissance throughout the world. He gave the examples of the anti-Israeli “resistance” in Lebanon, the Islamic movements in Turkey and North Africa and the Islamic movements throughout the Muslim world as indicating the Islamic renaissance that had begun with the Islamic Revolution in Iran. He stressed the need for Islamic unity, which he claimed Iran advocated, which transcended the differences between Shi’ites and Sunnis. Regarding Islamic extremism in the Middle East, he said those who employed violence and destroyed mosques and churches did not represent true Islam (Fars News Agency, August 15, 2015).

Ali-Akbar Velayati, the Supreme Leader’s advisor for international affairs, told the conference that Iran would continue to support the “resistance front” and that the nuclear agreement would make it possible to increase Iran’s support for its regional allies. He said the situation of the resistance front had improved (Fars News Agency, August 15, 2015).

The statements made by senior Iranian officials at the Ahl al-Bayt conference clearly indicated Iran’s attempt to impress its allies with its commitment to continue supporting them even after the nuclear agreement with the West. The speeches of the senior officials also reflected Iran’s approach to the rise and strengthening of ISIS and radical Sunni Islam: Shi’a-Sunni collaboration to fight radical Islam.

Interviewed by Tasnim News, Ali-Akbar Velayati said Iran would not allow the United States to again extend its political influence in the region. He said that as far as Iran was concerned, it made no difference whether the Americans tried to return to the Middle East through Iran, Iraq or Syria. The United States had been expelled from Iran during the Islamic Revolution, expelled from Iraq and had failed in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. They were now trying to regain their influence in Iraq, Syria and other Islamic states, but the Middle Eastern countries and people, led by Iran, had awakened and were standing firm (Tasnim News, August 17, 2015).

Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, said Iran would continue providing weapons to support the Middle Eastern countries fighting terrorism. Speaking at a conference held in Tehran to discuss the nuclear agreement between Iran and the foreign powers, he said that Iran intended to preserve its defensive capabilities and send weapons to its regional allies. He said that without Iran and the weapons it provided to the countries fighting terrorism, the capital cities of the Middle East would have been occupied by ISIS (Fars News Agency, August 9, 2015).

Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, claimed the Iraqi government had recently made significant gains in its fight against terrorism and proved its ability to preserve Iraq’s independence and territorial integrity.

Regarding the situation in Syria, he said the Syrian regime had proved it could overcome its opponents, and protect Syria’s national interests and its constitution. He was certain, he said, that Islamic terrorist groups, especially ISIS, would eventually be eliminated. He claimed he was also optimistic about the situation in Yemen, and said that regardless of the strong support for those loyal to the former Yemeni government, they could not win.

Firouzabadi also discussed the situation in Bahrain, saying Bahrainis should not be oppressed and that the government of Bahrain had to reach an understanding with the opposition and release its leaders from prison (Defa Press, August 9, 2015).

Masoud Jazaeri, deputy commander of the Iranian army, told a press conference that Iran did not need a physical presence in Syria, Iraq or Yemen because their governments and people could defend themselves. That was his response to recent media reports about the presence of Iranian forces in northern Syria (Fars News Agency, August 17, 2015).

More than 70 members of the Majlis (the Iranian parliament) signed a letter to Iranian president Rouhani demanding continued Iranian support for the regional resistance front after the nuclear agreement. They called on the president to use the ministries of defense and foreign affairs to send aid to the Palestinians in accordance with instructions from the Supreme Leader to arm the Palestinians in the West Bank. Javad Karimi Qoddousi, a member of the Majlis national security and foreign relations committee, said that all the senior Iranian officials had to support aid for the Palestinian people and the resistance front so that the nuclear agreement would not be exploited to strengthen Israel’s security (Fars News Agency, August 18, 2015).”

* Spotlight on Iran (August 9-23, 2015) is available at the Meir Amit Intelligence and Information Center website.

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