Will Iran’s Expansionist Scheme Fail?

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Iranian-back Houthi fighters in Yemen.
Iranian-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen (Photo: MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran’s theocratic regime, which has maintained power domestically via brutal oppression for over four decades, is continuing its devastating expansionist policies across the Middle East, paying no heed to the bloody results of its subversive policies.

The fallout from Iran’s policies is not limited to the terrible destruction in those regional nations where the regime has established a foothold, but also seems to be wreaking havoc on the Iranian state itself.

Iran’s regime and the entire country are isolated, exhausted, and militarily and financially stretched to their limit.

Recent indications suggest the regime’s regional clout is waning, with the proxy militias starting to fall out among themselves. Failure on the ground and rising public discontent among local populations (including the large minority populations) make it impossible for them to follow through with Iran’s political program.


Exploiting the Arab Spring

Iran publicly voiced support for the uprisings against various oppressive regimes in the Arab world which broke out in early 2011, with many viewing the regime’s claims as insincere and motivated by the leaders’ wish to capitalize on and exploit the revolutions for Iran’s own benefit, to gain leverage in the region.

Tehran saw the turbulence of the Arab Spring as an opportunity for exploitation, allowing it to foment divisions and fuel sectarian schisms, which could be used as part of a “divide and rule” policy.

Iran’s regime wants its 1979 “Islamic revolution” – which itself ended with the crushing of all the country’s democratic parties — to be the sole successful example of an uprising in the region, with any genuinely popular movement for freedom which might threaten the regime’s domination of the Middle East ruthlessly crushed as in Syria.

Since first coming to power in 1979, the regime has planned and worked tirelessly to divide and fragment Arab societies. Rather than striving for normal relations with these nations, the regime’s sole objective is to weaken and undermine these countries via infiltration as a prelude to occupation and subjugation.

The regime viewed the Arab Spring as a perfect pretext for putting these plans into operation under the guise of supposedly supporting the revolutions.

The tightly-controlled regime media even termed the Arab revolutions collectively as an “Islamic Awakening” in a flagrant bid to hijack them for its own agenda.

In the years since 2011, however, Tehran’s hypocrisy and true oppressive nature have been laid bare, with the ayatollahs providing the most brutal Arab regime that of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, with a near-limitless supply of money, weapons, military advisors and rank and file militiamen.

This once again underlined that the theocratic regime in Iran never had any interest in supporting freedom. Its sole imperative is expansionism and regional control In pursuit of this objective it  spent billions of dollars on helping to slaughter and dispossess millions of people and to reduce whole nations to rubble, while claiming implausibly to be fighting terror.


Losing Yemen

Since the Houthi coup in 2015, the Yemeni people have shown a heroic and genuine resistance to Iran’s project for regional domination. Iran is keen to retain control of Yemen for several reasons; foremost among these, the regime wants to maintain an unassailable position in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, the main point of entry to the Suez Canal and the Red Sea.

The regime also wants to control the Gulf of Aden and to deploy affiliated forces on the Saudi borders to threaten the stability within its main regional rival; this was a primary consideration in showering the Houthis with weapons and money.

The major losses currently inflicted on the Houthi militia in Yemen represent a severe blow to the Iranian regime’s regional plans.

The Houthis’ targeting of Saudi cities, including Mecca, Taif and Riyadh with Iranian-produced missiles, led to infighting among the Houthis and their other accomplices, causing chronic deadlock in the political process in the country and widespread anger among many Yemenis.

Thousands of Yemenis took to the streets of Sanaa demanding the ousting of the militias from the city.

Despite the Houthis’ best efforts and the devastation wreaked in their ongoing battle for control, however, forces affiliated with Yemen’s General People’s Congress (GPC) recently gained “complete control” of Sanaa Airport from the Houthi militias.

The GPC-affiliated forces also recently recaptured the Sabaa Media Agency, Yemen’s central bank and many embassy buildings, most prominently the Saudi, Emirati and Sudanese embassies, along with the Defense Ministry building.

These losses are almost as painful to Iran’s regime as the financial losses it sustained in its campaign in the country, spending at least $10 billion to date on funding the Houthis.

Iranians are likely to wonder why the regime directed these massive amounts of money, especially while poverty continues to worsen at home and enthusiasm for the regime’s regional wars wanes.


 Disgruntled minorities

Some analysts have predicted the Ahwazis, Turks, Kurds, Baluchis and other minorities, will be in the vanguard of those who will revolt against the savagely-repressive theocracy.

Those groups which have experienced every form of torture, discrimination, oppression and marginalization at the regime’s hands are unlikely to accept the status quo for much longer, even under supposed reformists.

All of these groups are keenly monitoring the behavior of the U.S. under the Trump Administration towards Iran.

According to the latest reports from Iran, the regime is stepping up domestic security, becoming increasingly fearful of a domestic uprising. Although the regime is still using its tools of repression and intimidation, it is likely the leadership is preparing to react against outbursts of public anger.

One sign of the regime’s concerns over domestic unrest is the recent visit of President Hassan Rouhani to the province of Sistan and Baluchistan, where he gave a lengthy speech, underlining the necessity of sticking to unity.

During this visit, some Iranian regime officials made remarks, tacitly threatening the eastern and southern provinces.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Baluchi political activist inside Iran suggested the regime may unleash terror groups in these areas to repress any popular uprisings, a technique it has deployed elsewhere in the region. These groups will be tasked with aborting any insurgencies or uprisings against the regime, he added.



Ultimately, Tehran’s plans for regional hegemony are doomed to fail, with the regime facing massive challenges which it is not equipped to tackle.

Domestically, tensions with non-Persian ethnic minorities are rising, while the economy is in a tailspin, and the return of multiple coffins daily carrying the remains of the fighters sent to the battlefields of Syria and Iraq is further increasing anger and disillusionment among the Iranian public. How many more signs are needed that the Iranian regime is teetering on the brink and that its project for regional hegemony is destined to fail?



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Rahim Ahwaz

Rahim Hamid is a freelance journalist and human rights advocate and co-founder of Ahwaz Monitor website who writes about the plight of his community – the Ahwazi Arabs – and other ethnic groups in Iran. You can follow him on twitter: https://twitter.com/samireza42

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