Iran becomes an uncompromising actor in the Middle East
by Yusuf Selman İnanç
ISTANBULDec 17, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Yusuf Selman İnanç
Dec 17, 2016 12:00 am
The battle for Aleppo is nearly over as regime forces along with Iranian troops, Shiite militias and Russian elite forces have captured the opposition-held parts of the city. While the city is devastated, a demographic change is likely since the sectarian and ethnic structure of the city is being changed by Iran. Aleppo, which has been a major city in Syria throughout history - known for significant Islamic scholars, preserving its strategic regional position and becoming modern Syria's second largest and most industrialized city - is on the brink of falling into Iran's hands both geographically and ideologically. Iran has adopted sectarianism as a tool for expanding its political influence by mobilizing all Shiite groups and minorities around the world and making Shiite Muslim and non-Muslim communities in the poor countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Turkey has long been struggling to meet the demands of Syrians, which is primarily for a democratic regime. Despite these efforts, Turkey has become entangled in the terror attacks of the PKK's Syrian offshoot, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and Daesh, the first of which is explicitly supported by the U.S. and certain EU countries. Nevertheless, Ankara has made several efforts to stop the bloodshed in Aleppo in a bid to convince Russia to prevent a massacre. Finally, a truce accord was reached and accepted by all parties to stop the firing and evacuate civilians as well as opposition fighters to Idlib first, then to Turkey's border.
Turkey has declared that all preparations have been made to welcome the refugees, such as building tents and mobilization hospitals. Just as the buses were sent to start taking civilians, primarily wounded ones, Iran's proxy groups violated the truce.
Iran asked for the evacuation of Shiite militias trapped in Fuah and Kafarya. The truce in Aleppo has nothing to do with Fuah and Kafarya. Iran and its proxies attempted to benefit from the situation. By doing so, Iran has clearly violated the truce despite Russia, Damascus and Turkey. As a result of Turkey's long diplomatic efforts, the evacuation commenced again.
The threat, posed by the rise of Iran in the region, has shown that Tehran does not recognize any dire humanitarian situation or the decisions of its allies. Although Tehran and Moscow defeated the opposition together, causing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Aleppo and accepted the truce, Iran changed its mind suddenly despite Russia's alleged disapproval.
Iran's actions and desires in the region become more dangerous and a direct threat to peace. Iraq's war against Daesh turned into a sectarian conflict after Iran-backed militias became involved in military operations. Iran's support for Houthi rebels by using Shiism as a common political identity led to a deadly war after Saudi Arabia started pounding the poorest Arab country for not letting Iran establish a proxy government nearby.
Besides the Middle East, Iran has also uses sectarianism on a global scale. Several reports indicate that Iran has been making great efforts to make Shiite the peoples of poor African and recent Latin America Muslim communities.
The Middle East, an area of sectarian conflict since the early years of Islam despite remaining relatively calm under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, has been dragged into a new sectarian wave as anachronistic disputes were triggered by regional powers that intended to expand their influence. Iran, which has a centralized Shiite version of Islam, has entered into competition with other regional actors, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, in the region by applying sectarian policies from which the people of the region suffer. Being far from mainstream Islamic understanding that is in effect from Indonesia to Senegal, the country has been following expansionist policies. Iran adopted a policy to lead and unite Shiite communities in various Arab countries, including Iraq and Yemen, since the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
Iran holds the flag of sectarianism and uses centuries-old conflicts, narratives and Islamic interpretations as a cloak for its struggle for power. Tehran's involvement in the war in Syria and in the conflict in Iraq through its alliance with Russia has diminished stability and the path to peace in the region.
Iran's recent actions clearly show that the Tehran administration is blind to any offer of cooperation. Even Russia fails to convince Tehran of a policy that Tehran opposes. After the war ends in Syria, it will be on Russia's agenda to review its unconditional cooperation with Iran.