Iran accused of promoting sectarianism against Sunnis

DAILY SABAH
Istanbul
Published

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) promotes sectarianism against Sunnis in the predominantly Shiite country, a report in al-Arabiya stated yesterday while warning of a potential civil war. It also accuses the Iranian regime of working to eliminate Sunnis through sectarian activities and disrupting development in their provinces.

According to the report, clerics' activities and IRGC institutions are increasing in southern areas of the country, especially in the Sistan, Baluchistan and Khorasan provinces.

Iran, which has been accused of exposing sectarian fault lines in the region, especially in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, tried to soften its rhetoric as President Hassan Rouhani said there should be greater unity between Shiites and Sunnis and that they had coexisted side by side peacefully for hundreds of years.

During former U.S. President Barack Obama's time in office, Iran enjoyed the opportunity to fill the vacuum in the Middle East after the White House abandoned its traditional allies, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

In Syria, Iran has helped Bashar Assad's regime throughout the war, dispatching thousands of soldiers, mobilizing the Lebanon-based Shiite Hezbollah militia and delivering millions of dollars to the regime, despite its troubled economy due to international sanctions.

In June 2015, BasNews reported that the Iranian government had funded the Syrian regime to the tune of $6 billion since the beginning of the war.

Playing the sectarianism card to keep relations tight with Shiite minorities and armed groups around the world, Tehran has gone into a deadly war against civilians in Iraq by giving unconditional support to Hashd al-Shaabi militants who are infamous for their brutal acts against Iraq's Sunni citizens.

Since 2013, Iran has increased its military presence in Syria and deployed hundreds of its special operation troops in addition to militants. The report claims that Iran has been collecting young people from poor countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and India with the promise of granting citizenship.

Amid continuing civil war in Syria, Ankara, Tehran and the Kremlin recently ramped up joint efforts to find a way out in Idlib after the United States signaled an offensive on the town on the grounds that it has become home to al-Qaida-affiliated groups.

The sources stressed that even though Ankara and Tehran are on the same page regarding Idlib, experts from all three countries will work on the details of the three-way mechanism.

The restlessness in Idlib, Syria and the People's Protection Units (YPG)-held Afrin, have recently forced Turkey and Iran to communicate and collaborate more than ever. Also, the common opposition to the Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum has brought the two countries closer.

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