Sunday, March 9, 2008

On Iran- Ideology and National Interest

Iran is a pragmatic country that is aspiring for a regional role but uses ideology to achieve this role. Despite its hard rhetoric, it is seeking recognition of a dominant role in the Middle East, alongside Israel and the US.
This is the gist of Treacherous Alliances- the secret dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States by Trita Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Council.

The zealot pro- Israel advocates call anyone who criticises Israel an anti- Semite. The Iranians and their tribe of followers call those who criticise their policies a Nassibi {this is a vintage label in its anachronism], an enemy of Ahl al Bayt (family of the Prophet), or a Baathist. This accusation can not be levied against Parsi.( The Iranians, though, can come up with a self-hating label to those Iranians who say disagreeable things, like Parsi does).

Anyway- Parsi writes that Iran “uses ideology to achieve hard headed national interest objectives, rather than sacrifice national interests on the altar of extremist ideological goals.”
This perhaps explains why President Nijad of Iran addresses the Iranian Umma not the Muslim umma or the Shiite Muslim umma even.
Iran basically uses militant Shia Islamism to advance its national interests- regardless of how much trouble, namely Shia- Sunni tension, it is causing in the Arab Middle East.
The eight- year war with Iraq that ended August 20, 1988 and cost hundreds of billions of dollars and one million casualties, most of them Iranians was an attempt to expand influence and advance Iranian national interests.
As to Lebanon and Israel, Parsi writes “Tehran badly needed progress in exporting its revolution. It had failed in Iraq and Bahrain, in spite of the majority Shia populations of those countries. Now, thanks to the Israelis invasion of Lebanon, Iran was given the opportunity to plant the seeds of an Islamic revolution in the Levant….Not only did Hezbollah provide Iran with a foothold in the Levant, it also presented Iran with an even more valuable card: an abundance of potential American hostages .” p. 111
Iran used these hostages to get weapons parts that it needed. These came through Israel and this came out in the Iran -Contra scandal.
Parsi writes that “as the full extent of Iran’s dealings with Israel came to light, Iranian denunciations of Israel rang increasingly hollow” P. 128.

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