“Iran Debates Its Role in Middle East”
The Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2014, p.A7
“The crisis in Iraq, where an al Qaeda offshoot is gaining ground, has sparked a debate among Iranian policy makers and political observers over whether Tehran’s policies have paid off. Some argue that for all the military, financial and political capital that Iran has invested to bolster their Shiite-linked governments, the benefit has been small and it is time to change course. ‘Iran’s geopolitical policies have failed. We have lost Hamas, overstretched Hezbollah in Lebanon, and now have al Qaeda spilling from Syria to Iraq,’ said Saeed Leylaz, a prominent political analyst close to the government. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Iran’s only Arab allies, still hold their posts but preside over countries mired in war. … Critics of Tehran’s policy toward its Arab friends point out that Iran’s military presence in Syria hasn’t prevented the threat of al Qaeda from inching closer to the Islamic Republic’s borders. … A senior adviser to Iran’s Foreign Ministry said that Tehran has erred in its regional policies and gone too far in its unconditional support of governments in Iraq and Syria. … How to deal with the emergency in Iraq tops the Iranian government’s agenda and its internal debates, said Mohamad Hussein Afsari, who sits on parliament’s national-security committee.”
Quickie Analysis: Although Iran’s interest in preserving the “Shia crescent” is largely orthogonal to American interests in the region, the article is a reminder that Iran, too, has foreign policy factions.