How the Iran Protests Affect Its Regional Allies

The Islamic Republic is more than just financial and political support for these countries, Iran is the “Resistance Axis”, which has been in open confrontation with several rivals. Iran is the backbone of this axis, so whenever Iran is endangered, all of the allies are in danger.

This why Iranian unrest should be viewed from a regional perspective. In fact, slogans used in the protests were those that denounced Iran’s regional policy, including support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian factions who fight against Israel.

One of the first to appear on TV to address his supporters on the situation in Iran was Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah , who in a Jan. 2 interview, downplayed the protests, saying, “In Iran, there is nothing to worry about and the issue is being taken seriously. … The size of the protests is not large.” He added, “What is happening in Iran is being well-contained and is not comparable with what happened in 2009. … The problem in Iran now is not political like what happened in 2009.” Nasrallah added, “America, Israel and Saudi Arabia have entered the crisis in Iran.”

Hezbollah’s Lebanese model and its relationship with Iran are unique. The group is believed to be fully financed and equipped by Iran, but is not part of the Iranian bureaucratic system. Still, any change that occurs in Iran has implications for Hezbollah’s future. On July 24th, 2016, Nasrallah said, “We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran.” He added, “As long as Iran has money, we have money.”

Iraqi Vice President and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s viewpoint on the protests was that he regarded them as “an internal issue.” He claimed that Iran’s enemies “are attempting to sow riots and confusion.”

For the PMU in Iraq the situation is different because the Iranian protests are ideologically driven, so only groups within the PMU that share Iran’s doctrine of guardianship of the Islamic jurist are affected. The PMU is part of the Iraqi military and is financed by the Iraqi government’s budget and donations by the Shiite clergy in Najaf. Therefore, the Iraqi PMU is better able to withstand changes within Iran, than Hezbollah.