Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Iranian Foreign Policy: Not So Revolutionary Anymore ; Iran Today Is More Concerned with Ensuring Regional Stability Than Exporting Revolution

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Iranian Foreign Policy: Not So Revolutionary Anymore ; Iran Today Is More Concerned with Ensuring Regional Stability Than Exporting Revolution

Article excerpt

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini landed at Tehran's Mehrabad airport on Feb. 1, 1979, and every year since that date marks the beginning of the Ten Days of Dawn (dah-yi fajr), the annual commemoration of the Islamic revolution.

Observers at the time feared that similar revolutions would occur in other Islamic states, and in a speech this week, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad indicated that such a possibility is not out of the question. In Isfahan, Iran, on Feb. 3, he said he has encountered revolutionary sentiment in his global travels, provincial television reported. "Not just academics, not just men of letters, not just intellectuals," Mr. Ahmadinejad told the crowd, "but the people on the streets and in marketplaces lovingly shout: 'Iran, Iran, long live Iran, may Iran remain, may Iran be victorious.' "

Ahmadinejad is a committed ideologue surrounded by like-minded advisers, and he may actually believe that Muslims in other states are inspired by the Iranian revolutionary model. But the reality is that the only place where it has gained a foothold is in Lebanon, with the Shiite Muslim organization, Hizbullah. Iranian officials continue to praise Hizbullah and provide it with financial and military support, but the Iranian revolutionaries who were keen to export their experience two decades ago have mostly adopted a pragmatic foreign policy approach today.

Hizbullah's founding document, written in 1985, left little doubt about the relationship with Iran. It announced Hizbullah's desire for Islamic rule in Lebanon until there is Islamic rule worldwide, and it identified Ayatollah Khomeini as its leader. The document's language mirrored Khomeini's in many other ways: For example, it expressed the desire to eliminate Israel as well as hostility toward the United States. Those words were translated into deeds with suicide bombings that killed 241 US Marines in 1983, and with kidnappings and murders of Americans throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s.

Hizbullah's attachment to Iran at the time was based on more than the revolutionary example and a religious connection. Islamic Revolution Guards Corps personnel from Iran were training Hizbullah fighters in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon from 1982 onward, and as the former Iranian ambassador to Syria, Ali Akbar Mohtashami-Pur, said in the Sharq newspaper in August 2006, Hizbullah members even fought on the Iranian side in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War. In that same interview, Mr. Mohtashami-Pur acknowledged Iranian provision of missiles to Hizbullah more recently. …

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