Dr. Salem Alketbi
Dr. Salem AlketbiCourtesy

Dr. Salem Alketbi is a UAE political analyst

The Middle East region has been plagued for many years and decades by the spread of the virus of militias, terrorist groups, and ideological movements that the Iranian regime supports and relies on to achieve its goals and shape the features of the region according to the perceptions of its sectarian and military leaders, not to mention the politicians.

The Iranian theocratic regime relies completely on a religious authority and proceeds according to sectarian visions that have no relation to politics and its known traditional rules.

We said years ago, and no one noticed, that silence on the growing phenomenon of armed terrorist sectarian militias linked to Iran will exact a heavy price for the region and the world.

But what happened was that the world remained silent when the pro-Iranian “Houthi” militia ignited the destruction of the Yemeni state and spread chaos and divisions in it, and no one moved when the Iranian militias grew up in Iraq and possessed arsenals of missiles with which they began to threaten the bases of the most powerful army in the world (!).

Unfortunately, the major powers also did not do anything when militias affiliated with Iran and Iranian weapons bombed the Saudi and Emirati oil facilities, on which the economies of these countries depend.

These powers were content with silence for fear that Iran would withdraw from the nuclear program negotiations. This revealed the extent to which the major capitals submitted to the deceptions of the Iranian negotiator under the claim of neutralizing the Iranian nuclear threat, even though the basics of political analysis say that all this effort was only aimed at postponing the Iranian ambition to translate its nuclear cognitive capabilities into a “warhead.”

Yes, unfortunately the countries of the Arab region and Israel are all paying the price of Western negligence in confronting the Iranian threat. This is the truth, which everyone sees now, when the entire region falls prey to escalating threat scenarios on the part of Iran and its agents by expanding the scope of the ongoing conflict in Gaza and opening new battle fronts against Israel.

Personally, I do not know why Washington, Paris, London, and Berlin imagined that reviving the “Joint Plan of Action” would involve changing Iran’s hostile behavior in the Middle East, and why these parties, especially the United States, ignored their huge strategic interests in the region, and failed to strategically appreciate and listen to their historical allies.

Only a lone voice warns of the growing Chinese challenge in East Asia, even though the past and present prove that hegemony, influence, and position in the global system begins, ends, and is often decided in the Middle East region, with all its resources, geostrategic location, and so on.

What happened was that the strength of the terrorist militias loyal to Iran increased to the point that it required the American army itself to be mobilized, which reflects the lack of understanding and limited outlook that has controlled American decision-makers over the past period.

Iran did not hide its movements and goals, but paradoxically, the analysis sometimes leads us to the great services that the United States provided to the Iranian strategy, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere.

No one paid attention to the seriousness of what former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in October 2017 when he said in a televised speech that “it is not possible in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, North Africa and the Gulf to take any fateful step without Iran,” and what Ali Younesi, Rouhani’s advisor, said before that in March. 2015, when he declared that Iran “has become an empire as it has been throughout history, and its capital is currently Baghdad, and it is the center of our civilization, culture and identity today as in the past.”

Anyone who follows the statements of current Iranian leaders, as well as the leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, smells overwhelming euphoria and a deep desire to exercise guardianship over the countries of the region. They do not stop threatening to ignite the entire region and plunge it into a wide-scale war.

They do not stop belittling the fate of the peoples of the region and pushing for the escalation of the conflict in the region to include other countries and regions.

Iran's regional project is not a secret, and the officials and leaders of major countries know a lot about the details of this project, but the weakness of political imagination and the inability to build accurate estimates of potential developments in our region has put everyone in the dark about what is happening in Gaza.

Neither did Israel expect the horrific scenario of a Hamas attack, nor did the United States imagine that the Iranian challenge would reach this extent and put it in a critical position, at a time when the American administration faces two major strategic challenges: Ukraine and Chinese influence.

It is as if the founding statement of the Lebanese Hezbollah, issued many years ago, had been lost on everyone. It states, “We are the sons of the Hezbollah nation, the vanguard of which is victory in Iran.” Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, declared explicitly in his speech during the commemoration of Ashura in 2015 that “ His party is the Guardianship of the Jurist Party, directly linked to Iran.”