The advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader recently vowed that the Iran-led axis forces would not allow U.S. and NATO forces to establish regional bases in the eastern region of the Syrian Euphrates, Iran News Update reports.
Ali Akbar Velayati made these comments after a meeting with Nouri al-Maliki, vice president of Iraq’s Islamic Dawa Party, and it is likely that most Iraqis didn’t give it too much thought. Having endured many hardships over the past decade, they are likely fed up with foreign affairs issues, even in their immediate area. But one thing that may have riled Iraqis up was Velayati’s statement that “the Islamic awakening will not allow the return of communists and liberals to power”.
The former foreign minister for Iran, Velayati should have been more than aware that it is not diplomatic to interfere in the internal affairs of a country during an official visit, especially when that country is preparing for elections.
Velayati visited Iraq in an official capacity to attend a non-political event – he was invited by the Parliamentary Endowments and Religious Affairs Committee to help set up a center for rapprochement between Islamic sects – so he should not have made a political statement.
“The tone of Velayati’s remarks smacked of blatant interventionism. It seemed a clear incitement against some candidates contesting the elections, namely the communists and the liberals,” Adnan Hussein, the executive editor-in-chief of Al-Mada newspaper and head of the National Union of Iraqi journalists wrote.
Indeed, over the past 14 years, those who have ruled Iran have been overwhelmingly Islamist and enjoyed a close relationship with Iran, but their rule has damaged Iraq and left voters looking for alternatives (i.e. communists and the liberals) and many Islamist parties have changed their rhetoric to reflect a more democratic leaning.
Velayati must know that this is happening because Iran views Iraq as their proxy state and are increasingly obsessed with its political affairs and so one can only assume that it was intentional. Iran fears that non-Islamist leaders will put Iraq out of Iran’s influence and thus are trying to stop it.
Iran is hardly one to respect the independence of other nation states, why else would it support proxy militias and the destabilization of the Middle East? In that respect, we should not be surprised that this comment was made. Of course, it is worth noting that if an Iraqi official had visited Iran during the recent uprising, then Iran would not have accepted the advice of heeding the demands of the demonstrators.
When President George W. Bush gave his 2002 State of the Union address, he used the now-famous term, ”Axis of Evil” that warning against the development of weapons of mass destruction by the countries of North Korea, Iran and Iraq. In 2010, the term “Axis of Resistance” was adopted to encompass the forces of Iran, Hezbollah, Bashar Assad’s Syria, and Hamas.
After the February 10th downing of an Iranian drone, and the loss of an Israeli F-16 following Israeli strikes against Syria, the media mentioned the “Axis of Resistance” phrase but did not discuss its meaning or motivation in depth.
In an article for the US News and World Report by Lamont Colucci, associate professor of politics and government at Ripon College, and senior fellow in National Security Affairs for the American Foreign Policy Council, writes:
“Iran has mobilized its own forces, its proxies, and Syrian services to create a powerful network to threaten Israeli security. Iran and Syria have been instrumental in transferring greater amounts and more sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah, utilizing the fighting in Syria as a real-world training ground for future conflicts. The world was so mono-focused on the Islamic State group and the Syrian civil war that it continued to ignore Iranian strategic moves and intentions that go well beyond an Assad victory. In fact, we may come to view the Syrian Civil War as merely phase one of an overall Iranian plan to dominate the Middle East and wage war against Israel, culminating in an attempt to blunt or even drive out the American presence from much of the region.”
Iran would like to gain access to the Mediterranean, and the new axis could become powerful enough to intimidate American allies in the region to retract support for American foreign policy goals.
“The ‘Axis of Resistance’ poses a direct threat to the national interests of the United States and should be treated as a fundamental priority. It has no place in the international arena, and the movements and regimes that are its supporters are by definition illegitimate. In the past, the United States allowed Syria to dominate Lebanon; it now needs to decide if it is acceptable for Iran to dominate Syria, coerce Iraq and wage war against Israel,” Colucci adds.
He calls out this axis, “worshiping at the altar of tyranny, conquest and theocracy,” as “evil”.