Interview
Iran's Messianic, Islamist Ideology Ignored by World Powers

Islamism expert says those behind deal underestimate the role played by Shia Islamist ideology in Iranian foreign policy.

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Eliran Aharon,

World powers underestimate Tehran's messianic ideology
World powers underestimate Tehran's messianic ideology
Credit: Reuters

Iranian and many world leaders alike are celebrating the deal reached Tuesday over Tehran's nuclear program as a successful diplomatic effort - as are their respective negotiating teams, whose seemingly never-ending talks have finally come to an end.

But the approach by those advocating a deal - which by Obama's own admission would at best delay Iran achieving nuclear weapons capability by a decade - is the result of a lack of appreciation for the ideology which lies behind the Islamic Republic's policies, and particularly its increasingly aggressive foreign policy, according to an expert in Islamist ideology. 

Dr. Ephraim Herrera - author of the book "Jihad - Fundamentals and Fundamentalism" - explained that Iran rightly views the deal as a "victory, because they are convinced that they will be able to built their nuclear capabilities despite this agreement," while the world will ultimately "do nothing to prevent them."

He emphasized that Iran's oft-declared goal of "wiping Israel off the map" should not be viewed as purely saber-rattling - nor, as Obama seemed to imply in an interview earlier this year - as an expression of privately-held anti-Semitic prejudice with no real impact on overall government policy. In fact, commitment to Israel's destruction is a central pillar of Shia Islamist ideology, as outlined by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini.

In Khomeiniest Shia Islamist ideology - strictly followed by Iran's ruling elite - "the Jews are the basic enemy, the Satan," Herrera explained.

Destroying the State of Israel serves a messianic purpose for the subscribers of this ideology.

"There is a view that the Mahdi [Muslim Messiah - ed.], the Twelfth Imam, when he comes he will kill all the Jews."

Khamenei's school outlines how "the Iranians have to help the Mahdi to realize this goal - to kill all the Jews and wipe Israel off the map of the world."

Herrera warned that as a result, Israel must do everything possible to prevent Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.