Monday, 13 January, 2020

ISIS in the Region: Implications for Iran

By: Jafar Yaghobi

Every country is bound to its geopolitics, having no escape from that as well as its trace is conspicuous in any decisions made by a foreign policy-maker. To implement effectively the domestic policies in a region, stability and peace are the required recipes. Richard Hartshorne lambasted geopolitics in 1954 as an “intellectual prison”; therefore, it is important to consider the significant role of geopolitics and even its impact on culture and subtler aspects of life. The second statement is that peace and stability can foster growth and prosperity in every region. Undoubtedly, every country strives to create stability and peace in its surrounding as a means of improving its internal conditions.

A cursory glance over the Middle East map and the political dynamics of the region could inform the beholder of the tensions, abounding in the region as dispute erupts over borders, ideologies clash and lands are trodded under the feet of soldiers seemingly united under a self-proclaimed ‘just cause’ which ?in the end cause? the very ‘untold sorrow’ that the international community led by the UN is supposed to prevent.

When tension broke in Syria and armed groups and military councils were formed to depose President Bashar al-Assad, except for some pundits, no one would have thought that the conflict would fester and spill over the boundaries. Doubts and suspicion over the purposes and political future of the military groups in Syria slipped into a conundrum of power play as the Al-Qaida affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria spread its dark wings over the region and the ominous reality dawned. ISIS has proven to be a threat to almost everyone, as it claims only subjects and enemies, and no perceived third category.

A quick look on the latest maps of ISIS-controlled areas in the region shows a dark hand stretching its crooked fingers to clasp the whole region in a grip of steel and blood. The self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate, which doesn’t consider itself an insurgency anymore and aspires the respect and honor due for any sovereign state in the world, has come quite close to Iran’s west borders. With dangers lurking close as ISIS swarms the area in the vicinity of Iran’s border, some conjectures are made over a possible ISIS invasion of Iran. As a country which has always been threatened by a myriad of regional and international factors, Iran has proven to be far more resilient than some might have thought it would be. Barely a day passes without hearing a scorching remark against the Islamic Republic of Iran; both regional and international.

Notwithstanding the threats of any kinds, Iran has persisted stably through the vicissitudes of political reality in the region and has demonstrated that all the threats and conjectures are baseless as well as tensions are kept at bay. In contrast, other countries in the region, against which there is no apparent hostility, break down in a haze of sectarian conflict and schism at the highest levels of political power. ISIS is no exception; it might be able to gain temporary grounds in countries with feeble domestic structures, but they know more than anyone else that Iran is beyond their ken and capacity; therefore, any invasion of Iran is a definite headlong rush to their early grave. However, it should be considered that as a Shiite country, and the most influential Shiite actor in the world, Iran remains the most alluring target for a terrorist organization, having pledged to purge any creed and ideology inconsistent with their own as well as claiming to take all the Muslims in the world under their control. As it happens, ISIS has to postpone hitting this target almost forever.

In line with the second statement of this writing, it could firmly be asserted that Iran seeks to maximize security at borders, and regional peace and security is an ideal to which the Islamic Republic of Iran is staunchly committed as well. Fighting terrorist groups, namely the secessionist Pejak and Jeish Al-Adl in Sistan and Baluchestan Province, has led Iran to broaden its experience in dealing with these groups; however, it doesn’t imply that Iran will approach ISIS in the same way as it does with minor terrorist groups. ISIS poses a far greater threat to peace and security in the region; in other words, it is a challenge which needs regional cooperation to deal with effectively. As a regional power, Iran’s role has been proved to quell the terrorist group and establish the order in the region. Another factor which puts ISIS at odds with Iran is profound ideological difference; that’s to say, Iran is the greatest Shiite country in the world and on the contrary, ISIS has some problems with Shiite ideology.

In the end, it is worth mentioning that since the US war on Afghanistan and Iraq, a surge of terrorist groups has sprung out of the chaotic aftermath. In other words, the situation which has provided more reasons for the foreign intruders to persist in the region and right the very wrong they themselves have done to the region. In short, it is clear that insurgency and terrorism in the Middle East are the preferable raison-d’être for foreign troops without having any justifications for their presence in the region as well as a perfect foe to whip votes at Congress.

With the abovementioned point in mind, it is clear that no cooperation between Iran and ISIS is perceivable and any allegation in this regard is pure baseless conjecture fomented by the very sources that have long been waging psychological wars against Iran in an effort to tarnish the image of the country. At last but not least, Iran and U.S. may face the same threat but this doesn’t mean both countries have the same ideals and goals about ISIS. Confrontation with ISIS can be regarded as an immediate need to curb the danger for both sides; but still fighting the same enemy does not necessarily make them friends.

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  1. Scannermbx

    March 28, 2021 at 3:26 pm

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    March 29, 2021 at 7:18 am

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