Op-Ed

Is Iran’s ballistic missile arsenal for defense purposes?

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AlarabiyaIs Iran’s ballistic missile arsenal for defense purposes?

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Mosa Zahed

mosaJust days after the new US administration commenced, Tehran resolved to put Washington’s Iran policy to the test by firing a medium-range ballistic missile, designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads, in an ostensible act of power projection during an era in which the mullahs’ regime is faced with internal and external economic and political challenges.

In response to Tehran testing the waters, the new administration conveyed its message back loud and clear, with the US Treasury announcing sanctions last Friday against individuals and entities, exhibiting resoluteness in adopting measures that serve to confront Iran’s ballistic missile programme and destabilising activities in the Middle East.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s initial remarks neither confirmed nor denied the missile launch, but in due course Zarif took to Twitter and elaborated that Iran “Will never initiate war, but we can only rely on our own means of defense.”

Considering the challenges that lie ahead vis-à-vis Iran, and in order to enable the construction of an effective strategic approach that aims to restore regional stability, it is imperative for the international community to comprehend the true nature of the regime in Tehran. Only then can one become cognizant of the true intentions of Iran’s ballistic missile programme and its comprehensive support for terrorist organisations across the globe through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

This exercise requires a study to the doctrine of the ayatollahs as one cannot merely rely on tweets of government officials like Zarif, who nevertheless disseminate lies and sugar coat the grim reality for political purposes.

Considering Iran’s substantial military, economic and political involvement in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, it is reasonable to assume that Tehran’s ballistic missile arsenal serve as a deterrence against any force that dares to counter its expansionism and Khomeinism.

Mosa Zahed

The mandate and credo of Iran’s theocracy can be traced back to the first political tract of the architect of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, titled ‘Kashf al-Asrar’ (the Unveiling of Secrets), which was published in the early years of 1940. In this book, Khomeini dedicates an entire section to jihad in Islam in which he argues that it is “obligatory for all men…, to prepare themselves for conquering other nations and to disseminate Islamic law in all the countries across the world.”

Khomeini’s Jihadist creed in fact advocates the alteration of the world’s status quo and calls for a conquest that will ultimately subject other countries to the ideals of his brand of Islamic fundamentalism, through the establishment of an “Islamic state under supervision of an imam…”

This grand project completely disregards territorial integrity and sovereignty of other nation-states and exclusively eyes to expand “God’s sovereignty” on earth. Khomeini’s rationale for global jihad propounds that Islam will “benefit everybody” and that conquered nations will be “proposed luminous heavenly law which, if implemented, embraces eternal bliss.”

A global Islamic state

Khomeini was not the first clergyman in the twentieth century who propagated jihad with the objective of overthrowing un-Islamic rulers across the world in order to establish a global Islamic state. Nearly two decades prior to the publication of Khomeini’s manifesto, Abul A’la Maududi had already put forward similar ideas in his work titled ‘Al Jihad fil-Islam’ (Jihad in Islam).

Maududi argued that “Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam…” with the objective of establishing an “ideological Islamic State.” Parallel to Khomeini’s reasoning, Maududi stressed that “Islam requires the earth – not just a portion, but the whole planet…the entire mankind should benefit from the ideology….”

It is clear that Maududi’s early work on jihad influenced Khomeini’s line of thought in subsequent years, as sections of Khomeini’s Kashf al-Asrar undeniably show similarities in nature to Maududi’s notions. In fact, Maududi’s teachings further continued to shape the views of the future founder of the Islamic Republic through the leaders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood – who were themselves heavily influenced by Maududi – as Khomeini and his followers developed close ties with the group in the 1950s. These connections effectively cleared the path for the Brotherhood to promulgate its ideology and by extension that of Maududi in Iran.

Whereas the Brotherhood failed to establish an Islamic state based on its ideological and political programmes, Khomeini and his adherents successfully consolidated power following the Iranian revolution in 1979 and established a theocracy, modelled on Khomeini’s creed, which codified the export of their brand of Islamic revolution in the constitution. The preamble of the Khomeinist constitution emphasises in this regard that the army and the IRGC “will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad in God’s way; that is, extending the sovereignty of God’s law throughout the world…”

Contrary to the deceiving statement issued on Twitter by Zarif, which aims to generate the impression that Iran’s ballistic missile programme merely serves as a means of the country’s defense, Tehran has in fact stayed true to the Khomeinist doctrine for the past 38 years by aggressively expanding its influence and presence across the region, stretching from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean Sea. Considering Iran’s substantial military, economic and political involvement in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, it is reasonable to assume that Tehran’s ballistic missile arsenal, which is the largest and most diverse in the Middle East, and support for terrorist groups and Shiite militias serve as a deterrence against any force that dares to counter its expansionism and Khomeinism.

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Mosa Zahed is a consultant at the Brussels-based Alliance to Renew Co-operation among Humankind. He operates as a foreign policy and security adviser to parliamentarians of EU member states and has spoken at many parliamentary committee meetings in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands on human rights violations. Zahed has extensive experience working with non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations. He tweets @MosaZahed.

Last Update: Wednesday, 8 February 2017 KSA 09:43 – GMT 06:43

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