Iran Ready to Send 'Peacekeepers' to Crisis Spots
Senior Iranian Army officials announced Thursday that Tehran is prepared to dispatch troops to crisis-stricken regions at the request of the UN to conduct peacekeeping missions.
"Undertaking peacekeeping missions by the Iranian forces indicates the power and strength of Iran's Armed Forces," Iranian Army Ground Force Commander Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan told the semi-official Fars news agency.
He continued that the well-trained and skilled peacekeeping forces -- familiar with English, French, and Arabic -- would be sent to any international missions considered necessary by the UN.
Pourdastan had also earlier underlined his forces readiness for UN missions in any part of the world.
"The peacekeeping unit of the Army Ground Force is waiting for the relevant orders (by the UN) to be dispatched to the countries specified by the UN," Pourdastan told reporters.
But involvement in foreign peacekeeping operations by Iran is likely to face skepticisim and potentially opposition from Western nations and Gulf Arab states, who see Iran as a bad actor on the international stage.
Saudi Arabia and its regional allies have openly accused Persian Shiite Iran of acting as an unseen hand behind uprisings in Sunni Arab nations, especially the Gulf monarchies.
Tehran is also deeply connected to terror organizations it uses as proxies in the region, most notably Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon.
US intelligence officials have also expressed concern over ties between Iranian intelligence Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, which played a significant role in the Egyptian revolution and has been tied to unrest in Jordan.
Of greater concern for western nations, however, has been Iran's nuclear program, which has raised concerns among western diplomats who believe Iran is seeking an atomic bomb.
Iran denies the charge its nuclear program has military aspirations, but the International Atomic Energy Association has repeatedly complained Iran is obstructing inspection efforts at its nuclear sites under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Additionally, western diplomats say they have concrete intelligence Iran has tried to obtain technical information for the construction of an implosion device – a type of nuclear weapon more advanced than those used at the end of World War II.
Some observers note that Tehran, backed officials in Moscow who increasingly adopt atavistic cold war sentiments and postures, may serve the same purpose for Russia that Havana did in the 1960's and 1970's.
Only this time, they say, Moscow is seeking a lever against Washington's influence in the oil-rich Middle East region instead of its own hemisphere. If so, Tehran's 'peacekeepers' may play a strategic, rather than humanitarian, role.