Adviser to Rouhani: Iran is an Empire & Our Capital is Baghdad

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An adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that Iran’s historic empire has been restored with Baghdad as the capital, according to Saudi owned regional Arabic daily Al-Arabiya.

Ali Younesi, an adviser to President Rouhani said that “Iran today has become an empire like it used to be throughout its history and its capital now is Baghdad and it is the center of our civilization, culture and identity, today as it was in the past.” This was a reference to the Persian Sassanid Empire that ruled before Islam emerged and which conquered Iraq. The capital of the empire was Baghdad.

The news agency of ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency) quoted Younsi during a talk in the Forum of Iranian Identity in Tehran on Sunday. In his speech he said that “the geography of Iran and Iraq is not to be divided and our culture is not to be separated. That’s why either we fight together or become united” referring to the massive Iranian military presence in Iraq lately.

Iran has sent Major General Qassem Suleimani, commander of the elite Quds Force, to lead the battle for the key Iraqi town of Tikrit.

Younesi who served as Minister of Intelligence in the government of President Mohammed Khatami, attacked all those who opposed the Iranian influence in the area. He said “all of the area of the Middle East is Iran, we shall protect all of the nationalities in the area because we consider them to be a part of Iran and we shall stand against Islamic extremism, takfirism, atheism, neo-Ottomans, the Wahhabis, the West and Zionism.”

He emphasized the continuing support of Tehran to Iraq’s Shiite government and he attacked indirectly saying “our historic rivals which include the successors of the eastern Byzantines and the Ottomans are not satisfied with our support to Iraq,” referring to the dissatisfaction of Turkey with Iran’s expansionism.

He said that his country intends to form an Iranian union in the region saying “we don’t mean by this union to remove the borders, but all of the countries which are neighboring the Iranian plateau must come closer to one another because their security and their interests are connected one to another."           

He added “I don’t mean that we want to rule the world again, but we must get back our standing and our historical status, which means that we will think globally for Iran and her people.”

Younesi is not the first Iranian politician to boast of Iran’s renewed regional influence. Last september Ali Reza Zakani, a member of the Iranian parliament, boasted that Iran now rules four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa.

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David Harris

David Harris is the editor in chief of Clarion Project.