Iran in permanent state of hostility towards Arabs
As the mullah regime assumed power 39 years ago, it showed its inclination to violence by resorting to force to meet its ends. The first indication was when it ordered the storming of the American Embassy in Tehran and clashing with Israeli forces on Syrian territory. Between these two incidents, there were thousands of empty promises and hundreds of incidents in which Iran used anti-Western sentiments and Israeli policies to boost its popularity. But between 1979 and 2018, America has not been destroyed by Iran’s ballistic missiles and Israel has not disappeared from the map with Nasrallah’s fiery speeches.
Ever since Khomeini assumed power, Iran maintained its hostile stance against all its opponents. In the very first year of the rule of the mullahs, hundreds of mass executions of civilians were carried out in Iranian squares. Besides, scores of followers of the Shah within the army and civil institutions were purged. The Iranian militias abroad also played an important role in maintaining the level of enmity with Tehran’s foes. These militias include Hezbollah whose violent operations in the ’80s specifically targeted Western interests in Lebanon. And of course, there was the US Embassy storming incident in which 25 hostages suffered for 444 days.
When the hostage crisis cooled down after all were freed unharmed, Tehran took on late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and ignited a new war in the region that claimed the lives of a million Iranian and Iraqi soldiers. The war with Iraq turned out to be a gift for Tehran which used it to reinvigorate its empty ideology – an ideology which constantly needed new enemies to breathe life into its popular base. Yet, the Iraq war revealed Iran’s true colors of building alliances as well as nurturing animosities.
Khomeini and Israel
When Khomeini came to power in Iran, hostility with Israel was not perceptible as it was placed on the back burner. He dissolved all Iranian state apparatuses associated with the former Shah regime, but retained the secret police and the notorious Iranian intelligence service, Savak, which was closely associated with the Israeli Mossad. Savak elements were known to have received training from Mossad in the era of the Shah. Khomeini only changed the name of the feared intelligence apparatus to Savama.
The beginning of the Khomeini era was a continuation of the Shah era in terms of maintaining relationship with Israel. Iran was a friendly country to Israel and the 100,000 Jewish community in Iran tried all along to bring the two countries closer.
In the ’80s, an incident revealed to the whole world that there was military coordination between the new Iranian regime and Israel. In 1981, an Israeli plane crashed along the Turkish-Soviet border carrying US weapons from Israel to Iran. Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon admitted in 1982 that Israel was supplying military equipment to the Khomeini's government.
When the Iran-Iraq war broke out, the Israeli intelligence service openly provided full support to Iran because of Saddam Hussein’s hostility towards Israel. Tel Aviv viewed the Khomeini version of fundamentalism as an opportunity to invest in, as a force against Arabs. After the Iran-Iraq war, and the death of Khomeini, a new “anti-Israel” ideology set in, and was soon officially adopted as a new, convenient tool by the regime.
Fear of Trump administration
For the first time in eight years, voices in Iran are calling for prudence in its foreign and domestic affairs for fear of the Trump administration’s ambiguous posturing. The recent protests in various Iranian cities have also come as a wake-up call for the regime.
President Hassan Rouhani has asked the decision-makers in the regime to tread with care. Rohani and some moderates within the Iranian regime have come to realize that Tehran cannot continue its aggressive policies in the face of changing international conditions. It has finally dawned on them that any response to Iran’s wayward ways will be harsh, causing it even more economic isolation that will further anger the Iranian people.