Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani.
followed. He said, “There were friends in high places, in our country’s domestic and foreign hierarchy, who argued not to get involved in Syria and Iraq, and sit back and respectfully defend the revolution. One individual asked you mean we go and defend dictators? The leader (referring to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei) provided a clear response in saying when you look at the countries we have relations with, who is a dictator and who is not? We simply look at our interests.”
With Iran’s support, Bashar Al-Assad’s dictatorship in Syria has lead to more than 500,000 people being killed, scores more injured, over 12 million displaced or seeking refuge abroad. Large parts of the country is in ruins.
Under Iraq’s former prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki, the Sunni community was the main target of Al-Maliki’s Iran-backed wrath, which allegedly fueled the rise of ISIS.
In Yemen the ousted dictator Ali Abdullah Salah along with the Houthis have also been receiving Iran’s support. As the Saudi-led coalition advances, there are signs of major rifts, and even reports of clashes between the two forces.
Recently Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Atomic Energy Organization chief Ali Akbar Salehi have spoken of relaunching certain nuclear activities.
Additionally, Iran continues its human rights violations. Over 100 executions were reported in the month of July alone. During Rouhani’s first term, more than 3,000 were hanged.
Political prisoners in a jail west of Tehran are reported to be participating in an ongoing hunger strike for nearly four weeks. The inmates are protesting violence and other repressive measure by prison guards.
Amnesty International, concerned of the overall situation in Iran, issued a statement demanding that Iranian authorities “allow international monitors, including the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, to conduct independent, unannounced inspections of Raja’i Shahr Prison and other prisons across the country.”
The Syrian war has been draining Iran, forcing it to seek the support of other parties, including Russia. With more parties having stakes in Syria, and with the US taking a far more active stance, the more Iran sees its future in the country threatened. As well, with ISIS defeated in Iraq, there will no longer be legitimacy for Iran’s presence in Iraq.
As the international community realizes Iran’s destructive nature, they should “take the initiative and demand the eviction of all Iranian elements from Syria, including IRGC members and foreign proxy members transferred from abroad,” writes Heshmat Alavi in an article for Al Arabiya.
For peace in the Middle East to be accomplished, Iran’s influence on its neighboring countries must be contained.