Despite Tehran’s repeated calls to eradicate terror and its efforts to blame the West for any and all forms of terrorism, it continues to support its own terrorist cells and militias. This doesn’t come as a surprise to many who didn’t buy Rouhani’s rebranding of Iran as a champion against terrorism through his WAVE (World Against Extremism and Violence) initiative but it should act as a warning sign for those who did.
Tehran, of course, denies any connection to terroristic activity and even when the connection is accepted, as in the case of Tehran’s support for Hezbollah’s military factions, Tehran simply redefines terrorism to suit its agenda.
The problem is not only whether Tehran supports terrorism or not (it does), but the hypocritical rhetoric that exemplifies its stance on terrorism: last week, Khamenei once again, addressed the “Western youth” inviting them “reconsider the threat of terrorism in the world, its roots and to find a deep insight into Islam“. Of course, he blamed the US for the wave of global terrorism and didn’t mention once Tehran’s support in the past nor in the present for terrorism on a global scale.
Tehran was, remains and will probably continue to be addicted to terrorism and this should be a warning to Kahmenei: Mr. Khamenei, people who live in glass houses should be weary of throwing stones at others.
The Paradox of ISIS
ISIS is, paradoxically, Tehran’s ticket to becoming a champion against terrorism: the horror of ISIS is so great that all other forms of terrorism seem to pale next to it. And since Tehran is supposedly fighting ISIS in Syria and in Iraq, Tehran acquired the legitimacy it sought to cross the fence from supporting terror to fighting against terror.
Iranian politicians, such as parliament chief Larijani, love to point out that the US coalition against ISIS is not only ineffective, it is simply “a game the US follows to achieve its interests“. On the other hand, Iranians love to point out that Russia is doing a great job at fighting ISIS even though evidence is mounting that Moscow is targeting legitimate Syrian rebels and civilians alongside as well as ISIS.
And yet, there is no hard evidence that Tehran is actually fighting ISIS on any front. Yes, Tehran supports Assad in the civil war against his enemies, which include ISIS amongst all the other rebel factions, but there is a distinct lack of information regarding exactly how Tehran is fighting ISIS.
Tehran gladly presents ISIS in a black & white manner, latching on to the fact that ISIS was developed in an American run prison in Iraq and that the US supported rebels who then joined ISIS, making the US the “bad guy” to Assad’s and Iran’s “good guys”. The truth is not so black and white and is closer to a butterfly effect with many variables including US foreign policy, the invasion of Iraq, the birth of Hezbollah, the Islamic revolution, Assad gaining power, the Iran-Saudi conflict etc…
Iranian troops are fighting in Syria alongside Tehran’s proxy Hezbollah but they aren’t really targeting ISIS – if they had, they would have gladly bragged about any victories against ISIS.
Terrorist Cells on a Global Scale
Tehran is continuously meddling in other countries’ politics. Of course, Tehran doesn’t call this meddling and prefers to call its activity “support for the oppressed”. Bahrain is a classic case of Iranian meddling mixed with terror: Last week, Khamenei included in his speech the ending support by Tehran for the “oppressed” people in “Palestine, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and Iraq“. Were Tehran’s activity limited to rhetoric, one could discount such statements as simply politics. Unfortunately for Bahrain, this is not the case. In fact, Manama busted an Iranian-backed terrorist cell “aimed at overthrowing the country’s pro-Western ruling monarchy“. Once again, Tehran denied and accused Manama of playing a “blame-game“.
The same “story” has now developed in Kenya: Two Kenyan Iranians, Abubakar Sadiq Louw and Yassin Sambai Juma, were recently arrested in Nairobi for charges of “conspiring to mount terror attacks” and recruiting local terrorists to do so. Not only was Iran implicated as supporting this cell financially, one of the terrorists is reported to have been trained in Iran. Tehran quickly denied the allegations. But then, Tehran denied similar accusations regarding another busted terrorist cell in Kenya back in 2012.
Perhaps Tehran may be right about not being involved with an isolated case here or there – but evidence of Iranian backing for local terrorists intent on overthrowing their governments has surfaced in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Yemen, to name a few. Are they all simply bogus accusations or is Iran, once agains throwing stones from a glass house?
Terrorist Militias in Proxy Wars
In the case of supporting terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, Tehran chooses to spin terrorists as freedom fighters. To be honest, Tehran is not the first to activate such spins: most countries that supported or support terrorism often did/do the same since it is quite easy to do. Unlike ISIS, Hezbollah is not designated as a terrorist organization by all countries which simplifies the spin: If Hezbollah is not recognized as a terrorist organization in Tehran, Bangkok or Beijing, then claiming that they are freedom fighters can be legitimate.
The fact that Hezbollah often terrorize their enemies, killing and maiming civilians, is deemed irrelevant and is compared to the activities of armies such as the US or Israel. Once again, the problem lies within the subjective definitions of who is a terrorist and what is terrorism.
Since this is a subjective perspective, one must resort to a simple “for” or “against” definition: if the terroristic activity is targeting you, it is terrorism.
Tehran accuses the West of supporting terrorist militias such as ISIS and denies that the militias supported by Tehran are terrorists. The West says the exact opposite.
The bottom line is that Tehran supports Hezbollah which is linked to numerous terrorist attacks or terrorist attempts in Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Argentina, Turkey, Cyprus Egypt, Singapore, Bulgaria, Iraq, Yemen, Thailand, India etc…including two hijackings of planes (TWA 847 and AC 901).
Lots of stones for someone living in a glass house…