Khamenei’s Priorities lie Outside of Iran
One would think that at a time when a country’s economy is at an all-time low, its political isolation at an all-time high and elections just around the corner that its leader would prioritize the support of his/her people instead of channeling support and money outside of the country. One would think…
But when that country is the Islamic Republic of Iran and its Supreme Leader is Khamenei, conventional thinking as well as the needs of the Iranian people, are ignored.
Quite simply, Khamenei’s regime does not require the Iranian people’s acceptance or support to fulfil his vision. Acting as a theocratic dictatorship, he can do what he wants with Iran’s resources and Iran’s sham elections, which are rigged from the start, will ensure that the next president will be easily controlled and will accept Khamenei’s priorities as his own.
And, as usual, Khamenei’s priorities are not focused on the needs of the Iranian people but on the religious, ideological and geo-political power that he believes Iran should control in the Middle East and the world.
It is only through understanding Khamenei’s priorities that one can understand how the cries of help of the Iranian people are drowned by the frantic request for help by Bashar Assad.
Khamenei Supports Syria at all Costs
As the civil war in Syria approaches its 2 year mark and an official 100,000 death toll (94,000 and counting), the world powers and the countries in the Middle East have chosen sides, albeit somewhat lopsidedly. Although the list of countries who placed themselves against Assad’s regime is much longer, the short list of Assad’s supporters is definitely more active and none is more so than Khamenei.
Khamenei’s support for Assad is far from being just vocal as he promised Assad “full and unlimited support from Iran, politically, militarily, and economically, to the Syrian leadership and people“. The political support might be negligible in the case of these two isolated countries, but the military and economic support are definite game changers in an already volatile situation.
Syrian Blood on Khamenei’s Hands
Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy terrorist militia, is just such a game changer in its active and open support for Assad’s regime. Assad’s response in expressing “very high confidence, great satisfaction and appreciation toward Hezbollah” offers a glimpse of just how crucial the roles of Hezbollah and Iran are in Syria.
Hezbollah fighters who are recruited, trained and supported by Iran to the tune of approx. $200 million a year are openly fighting for Assad’s life and they are directly responsible for part of the rising death toll.
Iran’s support for Assad and Hezbollah is so strong that it was forced to denounce Hamas, Iran’s long term partner, since it chose to side against Assad in the conflict.
Iran’s military involvement in Syria is not limited to proxy-fighting through Hezbollah fighters: Iranian military equipment, including light arms, military communication equipment, missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles and possibly much more, is reaching Syria mainly through Iraq primarily by air through Iraq.
Over the past few months, Iran has increased the flow of military equipment by using other routes (including Turkey and Lebanon) consistently violating UN sanctions on Iran arms embargo.
The proverbial red line may not have yet been crossed in that massive deployments of Iranian troops have yet to land on Syrian soil but, despite efforts for secrecy, reports of Iranian officials and soldiers on Syrian soil keep surfacing, pointing that the red line is definitely closer than most of us would want.
Khamenei Banking heavily on Syria
Beyond military power, Iran is supplying Assad with a strategically important resource: Money. A lot of money.
Syria’s economic losses from its civil war are steadily growing and its currency has devaluated by 200% over two years.
This has created an urgent need for money and Iran is supplying that need: An initial line of credit for $1 billion escalated to $4 billion and then to $7 billion with no credit cap in sight.
The increasing line of credit, the funds needed to finance Hezbollah and the cost of military equipment shipped to Syria and Khamenei’s support is costing the Iranian economy an estimated $10 billion to date.
This financial support is all the more conspicuous due to the state of the Iranian economy is in, losing approx. $100 billion over its suspect nuclear ambitions. This means that money that could alleviate the economic pressures on Iranian civilians is channeled to kill Syrian resistance fighters and civilians.
Supporting Syria at the Expense of Iranians
The daily sacrifice of the Iranian people to support Assad is obviously not their decision and there is no way to find out if the Iranian people actually support Assad or not. At the end of the day, it is Khamenei and his puppet regime who call the shots and the Iranian people have no choice but to accept.
Khamenei’s priorities to support Syria may be grounded in religious, ideological or historical ties but at the end of the day, Khamenei desperately needs to show the world and the Iranian people that he has allies outside of Iran who can help achieve his long time aspiration or rebalancing the power in the Middle East with himself at the center.
The fact that such an aspiration is leading the Iranian people to further suffering is easily neglected by Khamenei, much as the Iranians’ rights to a democratically chosen president in the upcoming June 14th elections. At the end of the day, Khamenei and his cronies are banking Iran’s future on the power of Iran vis-à-vis its neighbors and not the acceptance of its regime by the Iranian people. As such, Khamenei is showing his true colors as a dictator, much like Assad, by dictating his aspirations and priorities at the expense of the Iranian people.
Update: Iran supports Dictator Assad while Iranians Protest against Dictator Khamenei .
For a further understanding of the big picture of the upcoming elections, please read “Khamenei’s priorities stifle Iranians’ election hopes”