Joyful and full of hope were the days throughout the Arab and Islamic world following the fall of the Shah of Iran and the triumph of the Islamic revolution. As for ourselves, the Shiites of Lebanon, we felt proud and gratified upon hearing the Name of Khomeini spread across the lands. His name became a synonym with glory, grandeur, and victory over injustice and tyranny.
During the first days of February, 41 years ago, the Lebanese incessantly followed the news and updates across radios by day and televisions by night. They patiently anticipated the return of Khomeini as he prepared to return to Iran from his exile in France. They witnessed the enchanting scene of the arrival of their Imam on board the French airplane upon the airport runway in Tehran. He was received by millions as an inspiring holy leaderwho succeeded in liberating the country from the Pahlavi family, whose rule was cemented by the English Colonists in partnerships with the United States and Israel. They listened cheerfully to that historic address right before the Iranian people reclaimed all security, military, and official centers in the land. The victory if the Islamic revolution was declared on that day of February 11, 1979.
Exporting the Revolution
After the appointment of an interim national government headed by Mahdi Bazerkan, parliamentary elections were held in which Khomeinists swept the ballot boxes and subsequently lead to the formation of the state of Wilayat al-Faqih. The state adopted the Shiite Islamic ideology which carried two slogans. The first was the self-preserving distinction of “Neither east nor west” which declared that there would be no alliance with the United States or the imperialist west, nor will there be an alliance with the socialists who hold the communist ideology lead by the Soviet Union. The second slogan aimed toward expansion. It was aggressive in nature and discourse and was termed “Exporting the revolution”.
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The principle of exporting the revolution opened the door wide open to sectarian strife in the region. It exposed the wounds of the sectarian conflicts in the region causing them to resurface all across the Muslim and Arab world. The Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, could not contain the incoming Shiite incitement from the east, rushing with his notorious recklessness and arrogance to invade Iran and curb its revolution. The war lasted 8 years and resulted in a million deaths and losses estimated by thousands of billions.
The first victims of this conflict were the Arab Gulf states that supported Saddam Hussein and endured financial depletion along with sabotage operations by Iranian operatives within their countries. In 1990, Kuwait suffered from the Iraqi invasion and following that the second Gulf war occurred and set all the countries in the region decades behind due to the devastation left by the cross-fire between American and western military action and Saddam Hussein’s long-range missiles.
The Tragedies of Lebanon and Iraq
In Lebanon, the first indicator to the exportation of the Iranian Islamic revolution was the emergence of Hezbollah as an ally of the Syrian regime in 1983. This alliance greatly contributed to the liberation of the Lebanese South despite its slogan “The Islamic Republic in Lebanon”. Later on, this alliance clashed with the AMAL movement causing a 3 year long war that was resolved by a Syrian-Iranian agreement after the end of the civil war in 1990. This agreement dissolved all militias except Hezbollah’s which was assigned the task of liberating the remaining occupied territories of the south in addition to protecting the Syrian-Iranian alliance in Lebanon and the region. The latter was demonstrated by Hezbollah’s participation in the Syrian war in favor of the regime in 2013. The obstinate arming of Hezbollah has caused, and continues to be the reason for the sharp division among the Lebanese. Lebanon has been thrown unwillingly, and without consent, into an alliance with the Iranian project that is hostile to the Arab region.
As for Iraq, the American invasion of 2003 presented an opportunity for Iran who formed an agreement with Washington to co-govern the region after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. In 2011, after the US withdrawal, Iraq fell into the arms of the Islamic revolution and was handed to the corrupt Shiite political parties affiliated with Tehran. Soon afterwards, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, an organization that was formed to combat ISIS, made its way into the state and penetrated its agencies exacerbating the already rampant corruption ultimately making way to the emergence of a popular uprising a few months ago. These factions are currently taking extreme measures to suppress those movements under direct orders by Iran.
The Houthis and the Fall of the Khomeinist Revolution
Witnessing the most recent recipients of the exported revolution, the deprived people of Yemen, chanting in the 21st century the same slogans of the Shiites of Hezbollah Lebanon in the 1980’s, is perhaps a spectacle of dark comedy. It paints a picture of Yemenis waking up today to a putridKhomeinist revolution. A picture of a meek population touched by the grace of Wilayat al-Faqih with its money and power, chanting slogans they do not understand yet idolize because they are the source of their power and authority. Enabling them was their desire for power as well as the voracity of the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh,and his obsession with preserving his rule at all costs, even with the help of Iran, who ultimately caused his death.
This Tuesday February 11, 2019 marked the 41st anniversary of the Islamic revolution. The revolution remains resilient as the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei holds on obstinately to the principles of Wilayat al-Faqih instilled by Khomeini decades ago. The exportation of the revolution was recently dealt a severe blow with the assassination of General QassemSoleimani who was the chief military and security leader in the region. The near future appears to Iran soon into a crossroads they must take a path from; either a full confrontation with the major powers including the United States, or submitting to international laws that do not recognize or tolerate the exportation of religious or ideological revolutions across borders. We must note that the Islamic revolution succeeded in its wager that Israel is a terror state that does not seek peace nor wishes to grant rights to the Palestinians. Upon that assertion, Iran built up its Jihadist ideology and successfully exported its ideology to Arabs and Palestinians in the region. Meanwhile those who bet on peace in the region continue to wait endlessly, unable to find alternative solutions or pursue different projects.