Iran Sees New Opportunity for Regional Domination Despite Turkish Competition

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall - The Iranian political-military leadership has argued that the protest movement in the Arab world draws its inspiration from Iran's Islamic Revolution. In the Iranian conceptual lexicon, one does not encounter the concept of the "Arab Spring" that is so prevalent in Arab and Western political discourse. Instead, Iran has coined the term "Islamic awakening," which also reflects Iran's policy, course of action, and aspirations. Senior Iranian officials contend that the first lines of Iran's defense pass through Lebanon and Palestine. From Iran's perspective, compelling Israel to constantly deal with threats on its northern and southern borders renders the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran more remote. The struggle against Israel also constitutes an important recruiting tool in the protracted battle with "Western arrogance that implanted the Zionist entity deep in the heart of the Muslim world, and the world of Islam." A revival of Iranian activity to export the Islamic Revolution is now gathering fresh impetus in the Arab world, and an anti-Israel dynamic is being fed by an Arab street that has shaken off fear of its rulers. In contrast to the perceived economic enfeeblement of the Western economies headed by the United States, which constitute the bases of support for the "Zionist regime," Iran offers a substitute view of a new world order and an alternative, defiant Islamic agenda. Yet it is doubtful if the struggle against Israel and "global Zionism" will transform Shiite Iran into an acceptable party that can lead the change in the Middle East, given the fundamental apprehension of the "Shiite demon" among Sunnis that lingers on under the surface. In addition, Iran is fated to pay a price for its continued backing of the Assad regime in Syria. Turkey and Iran are currently in competition to lead the changes now shaping the Muslim world. Initially, Iran reacted with restraint, but now appears to be fighting back, accusing Turkey of sponsoring "liberal Islam" and cooperating with the West. In any case, the focus of the two remains the same - hostility toward Israel and seeing who can harm it the most. IDF Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael (Mickey) Segall, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East, is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center.

2011-09-15 00:00:00

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