Iran Expands Its Strategic Borders
[Iran] has expanded its strategic borders in this fight against enemies to the Eastern Mediterranean and Northern Africa.
OE Watch Commentary: Western officials and analysts have long acknowledged Iran’s aspiration to be a regional power, but the definition of “regional power” is too often left ambiguous. Some consider Iran’s natural aspirations to be domination over the Persian Gulf and, indeed, Iranian leaders have not been shy about demanding that U.S. forces exit the Persian Gulf. As the inheritor of an imperial legacy, many Iranians assume a “near abroad” attitude toward all former lands once controlled by the Persian Empire, i.e., an area stretching from Afghanistan through Iraq and from the Caucasus south toward Oman. Over the past five years Iranian rhetoric has increasingly described Iran as a pan-regional power, a reference not only to its Persian Gulf interests, but also to its naval presence in the northern Indian Ocean.
A recent article in Hezbollah News (Hezbollah here refers to Iranian hardliners rather than the Lebanese group of the same name) outlined a speech by Deputy Chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Hossein Salami, in which he suggests that the Iranian government and military have expanded their concept of Iran’s “strategic borders” even further, making them synonymous with the entirety of the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region, as the U.S. government defines it. Hence, Salami brags about how while Iran once mounted its defense at the Kharkeh River, a 560-mile-long river that transects Khuzistan and feeds into the Shatt al-Arab, which became an important defensive line during the Iran-Iraq War, it now fights its enemies along the shores of the Mediterranean. Hence, the Iranian military now justifies its engagement in Syria in what amounts to a sectarian Monroe Doctrine and legitimizes involvement with religious movements of the Maghreb as part of Islamist solidarity. The Western assumption that sectarianism will permanently divide Shi‘ite Iran from the Sunni states of the Arabian Peninsula and limit Iranian influence or its operational ambitions may be wrong.
At the same time, the discussion of Iranian progress by Salami, who formerly commanded the IRGC Air Force, and his attribution of it to the embrace of resistance by the paramilitary Basij, suggest that major segments of the Islamic Republic are less interested in diplomatic rapprochement with the West than the rhetoric of some in the Iranian Foreign Ministry would suggest. End OE Watch Commentary (Rubin)
Source: “Tefakr-e Basiji Enghalab ra dar Barabar Ziadeh Khvaha-ye Ghareb Nageh Dashteh Ast” (The Thinking of the Basijis has Protected the Revolution against the Greed of the West), Hezbollah News, 26 November 2014.
The Thinking of the Basijis has Protected the Revolution
According to remarks in Isfahan by the deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the thinking of the Basijis has protected the revolution against greed, and this thinking today is one of the greatest developments for the region….
If today we send the Safir satellite into space, and we can split the atom, and if we can access peaceful nuclear energy, and if we can build missiles to strike fear in the heart of our enemies, and if today, despite many economic sanctions, we have arrived at great successes in the aviation industry, refineries, and power plants, it is because of the thinking of the Basij.
While, one day, our nation was fighting the enemy at the shore of Karkheh River, now it has expanded its strategic borders in this fight against enemies to the Eastern Mediterranean and Northern Africa.