By Sajad Abedi
During the years after the Islamic Revolution of Iran, national security considerations have undergone various changes. Changes have been conducted in the light of the pursuit and continuation of some of the great features of the Islamic Republic’s holy system. The country’s security considerations are divided into three axis-driven discourse-driven, center-driven and growth-driven divisions. In each discourse, four basic variables, namely, “national security goals and principles”, “national power”, “national security threats and vulnerabilities”, and finally “national security policies” have been considered. Islamic loyalty explains its genesis and how the speed of its growth was so sudden to the extent that most foreign analysts and observers were shocked. How the self-immolation of a simple street vendor in Tunisia has led to the emergence and growth of democratic regimes in the Middle East and the fall of the dominoes of North African countries, and how none of the world’s leading analysts and futurists failed to make the slightest speculation about its emergence needs to be debated. Another is to review the methods of analysis and approach to dealing with political phenomena. On the other hand, the emergence of radical Islamist groups emerged in the wake of the lockup and stalemate of the liberationist movement in Syria, and the rapid growth of a group such as ISIL, which, until two years ago, was one of the names of the extremist al-Qaeda. The whole area of the game changed completely from western Iraq and eastern Syria, turning it from a guerrilla group to a country overnight. Of course there is no doubt that this cannot happen without the coordination of security systems in the countries of the region and the world.
So the challenges of the region changed from one to two years from soft to hard. In analyzing the causes of its emergence, leading challenges and, consequently, determining the orientation of defense strategies, two basic approaches can be considered. In the first approach, the weight of analysis is given to the global power scene, while regional forces are the majority of the vertebrae playing on the enemy’s ground. Questions like this:
- Are these superpowers seeking to change the fabric of political power in the Middle East?
- Does the Trump government follow what its Republican forebears in the government, father and wife Bush, wanted to do?
- Are the Arab Gulf states, in the form of traditional and closed spaces, adequate allies for the West bloc and its head in the United States?
All of them will have a fairly positive answer. If we look at the cases with this hypothesis, conspiracy theory, color and smell become more pronounced, and its predecessor comes back decades ago, and it can even be traced back to World War I. The emergence of Islamic extremist groups, September 9th, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Iran-Iraq War, the Arab-Israeli wars, and even the rise of Israel, are all examples that can be analyzed in the context of conspiracy theory and can explain the Middle East’s current situation. In this approach, the attention of Iranian intelligence will go to the world powers more than their puppets in the region.
However, without intending to abandon this approach, one can look through another window, and at least since 2000, on the other, as well as the fact that Western countries, and at their head, are the United States more than the beginning and the end. These currents have a role to play, to their advantage, in the framework of their own interests, have become stronger. If we deal with this approach, we can take responsibility for part of the political game in the region and see the impact on the political trends and trends in the region. Accordingly, our defensive strategy will also be regional. Based on the approach that is the question in the above lines once again reminds us, why our tentacles have been so weak in getting weak signals. If we even admit that these probabilities have been investigated in the think tanks and research centers, then there should not have been any signs of public diplomacy.
Indeed, the rapid growth of a group of insurgents who do not consider themselves bound by any international law, and which have been taking part in large parts of eastern Iraq and western Syria, over a period of several months, the total size of which is in the country’s size – the size of Britain – cannot be justified in the form of spontaneous and radical movements. Accordingly, if we accept that countries in the region, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are somehow drawn from the curvature of the transfer of power, financial support and military equipment, should I accept that their policies as influential powers in the region? Maintaining stability and a balance of power that has changed? Is Saudi Arabia seeking gendarme in the Gulf region? Is Turkey looking to revive the Ottoman Empire in the region? Does the Qatari government seek huge financial resources to become an influential pole in the region? Does this mean that the discourse of the twentieth century, in which Israel was the most pivotal enemy, has been altered, and the reorganization and redefinition of the regional map with the triangle of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have been on the agenda of these countries? Where is the position of Iran? What role is Iran to play? Should security policy focus on preserving domestic security, or the importance of regional unilateral security shrinking into Iran? If the maintenance of impartiality is not fulfilled, how much should participation in the process affect the events, in what way, should our strategy be set up?
The point here is that if ISIL, which is free from any kind of adherence to any international laws or treaties, is the executive arm of this policy of emerging powers in the region, and then the situation will be a little more complicated and complicated. ISIS has, as it has shown, exerted its greatest energy in its area of influence, in other words, ISIS’s policies are largely outspoken and the least attention has been paid to the satisfaction and welfare of the citizens of their occupied territories, which could be potential for Iran is very dangerous. Not only because it provides the incentive for this group to violate the borders of Iran, but also the possibility of its actualization at all.
As evidence suggests, ISIS is not committed to any international treaties and norms in the war, and basically believes its war with the Western domination system in the world. So, given the attractiveness of this group among Muslims in different levels of power in Central Asia, and in particular Pakistan, and even Syria, the ISIS’s scenario of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear, chemical and microbial weapons, is unlikely to happen. That realization can completely change the playing field.
Whether ISIS met with its supporters and sponsors can also be decisive in determining Iran’s security strategy. Is this alliance between these countries and ISIS a temporary and short-term solution or a long-term strategy? In the first assumption, with the provision of relative stability in the territory of this group, the challenges and conflicts will flood the Arabian countries of the Persian Gulf in the south and Turkey in the north. In the latter case, ISIS will play the role of a puppet, or a fragmentary puppet, of Iranian regional rivals who can challenge the Western borders of Iran by provoking religious motives.
What is important occurring that the possibility of these challenges all, simultaneously and in the near future? And this also greatly adds to the complexity of the issue. On this basis, it is well worth the point that Iran’s security strategy is very smart, flexible and operational. In addition, Iran’s national security considerations have been subject to various developments, which can be summarized as follows from the transformation of “extravagance to introspection” and going from the “ideological approach and pure devotion to more realism”, from the “Ummah-axis to Iran-centered”. From “simplicity to complexity”, and from the “Threat to Threat – Opportunity in the International System”. In these developments, we are paying more attention to the need for a balance between the implications and limitations of national security considerations.
Sajad Abedi is a Resident Research Fellow at the National Security and Defense Think Tank. He obtained his Ph. D. degree in National Security from the National Defense University, Islamic Republic of Iran. His research interests pertain to Arab-Israeli studies, Cyber Security studies and National Security.