Indeed, Hassan Rouhani on Monday described the Islamic Republic of Iran as a “cornerstone of stability” in an unstable Middle Eastern region, according to Zee News. Rouhani also suggested that the regime was uniquely capable of defending all people in the region who are threatened by IS.
These comments follow upon Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s claim last week that he had rejected an American request for assistance in the fight against the Sunni militant group. Washington denies that such a request was ever made, and baring the possibility that the Obama administration is lying about its dealings with Iran, Khamenei’s claims fit into a larger pattern of Iranian propaganda, which over-estimates the strength of the nation’s military and paramilitary forces.
This has lately been backed up by repeated announcements concerning the development of new weapons and military systems, including advanced missiles and drones. These are sometimes presented to the public in military parades, one of which took place on Monday to mark the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq War, according to Tasnim News Agency. Such demonstrations can serve the purpose of intimidating regional rivals, and they may also be seen as either threatening dissenting Iranian citizens or stoking nationalist fervor. Both of these domestic effects are further emphasized by the fact that Monday’s parade included side-by-side participation from the Iranian military, the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards, the nation’s several police forces, and its citizen militia Basij. Such a cast of participants emphasizes the blurred boundaries between military operations, law enforcement, and social repression under the theocratic system.
The tendency towards domestic repression in the Islamic Republic also underscores the nature of the threat that Iran poses to Western interests – a threat that is both military and ideological.