The Arab world has not always viewed the Shiite regime in Iran through a sectarian lens, despite the fact that the majority of Muslims around the world are Sunni.
Former Iranian Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini, the father of the Iranian revolution, was once seen as the leader of the protest against the Shah’s oppression, Western hegemony and Israel’s influence.
Later, the Iran-Iraq war undermined Iran’s reputation in the Arab world, but during Tehran’s campaign to help Lebanon in its war against Israel in 2006, it managed to repair the damaged image.
But since then Iran has widened its rift with the Sunni world by supporting Shia political parties in Iraq and Lebanon, instead of viewing the Middle East as the homeland of the united Arab nation.
Iran’s condescension has not gone unanswered, and the loss of political power by some Shia parties in recent elections can be seen as a direct result of anger against Tehran, which has been simmering for some time in the countries Arabs.
In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a Sunni Muslim in Lebanon who isn’t angered by Hezbollah – which until a few weeks ago had a majority in the Lebanese parliament – and the recent election results are proof of that. evidence.
Hezbollah is also steeped in sectarianism in its political alliances. The party takes a lax stance toward Lebanese President Michel Aoun, suspected of having ties to Israel among other foreign-interest affairs when he was a general in the army.
The Iran-backed organization has no such tolerance for Lebanon’s Sunni rulers, as evidenced by the death sentence of former Sunni imam Ahmad Al-Assir, who dared to criticize Iran. He was accused of causing civilian deaths in sectarian fighting and attacking the army in Sidon – Lebanon’s third largest city – in 2013.
But such policies have consequences. Iran and Hezbollah have paid dearly for viewing Lebanon as an extension of Iraq and Syria, not the sovereign state it strives to be.
Iran has also been badly defeated in other geopolitical arenas when it has sought to exploit these countries for its own interests.
For example, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has been charged by Tehran with the responsibility of carrying out Iran’s orders in Iraq and Yemen. He appointed Sheikh Mohammed Kawtharani as Lebanon’s representative in Iraq, who was then in a position to decide the fate of local politicians.
As a result, like any other authoritarian government, it became totally corrupt and Kawtharani’s brother Adnan took advantage of the situation to advance his business dealings.
Along with this, Iran has also set up drug and arms trafficking networks, which rely on Lebanese cannabis and Syrian stimulants, and it is hard not to see this as further humiliation of Sunnis. .
Sunni men, women and children are still being displaced on their own lands, the best of their young people being incarcerated, while Hezbollah is occupying their towns.
Iran seeks to sow chaos and focuses only on its own interests instead of viewing the entire Arab nation as one – regardless of factional affiliation. Until he adopts a different policy, he even risks losing the support of Shia Muslims.
Yasser Abu Hilala is a Jordanian journalist and his article was published by the Ofek program of the Van Leer Institute