The fight against ISIS and various terrorist splinter groups have been the focus of the international community. However, as ISIS continues to lose ground throughout the Middle East, the question of who will step into the vacuum is now on the table. For some experts, the question will be answered by who occupies the territories freed from ISIS control.
Henry Kissinger, a former diplomat, has suggested that if the territory is occupied by Iran, it could lead to the emergence of a new empire. Kissinger, who was U.S. Secretary of State under President Nixon, as spoke about the complications of taking sides in Middle Eastern conflicts.
“The outside world’s war with ISIS can serve as an illustration. Most non-ISIS power, including Shia Iran and the leading Sunni states, agree on the need to destroy it. But which entity is supposed to inherit its territory? A coalition of Sunnis? Or a sphere of influence dominated by Iran?” said Kissinger in an article written for CapX. “The answer is elusive because Russia and the NATO countries support opposing factions. If the ISIS territory is occupied by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards or Shia forces trained and directed by it, the result could be a territorial belt reaching from Tehran to Beirut, which could mark the emergence of an Iranian radical empire.”
However, this does not take into account the domestic issues that the Iranian regime is currently facing. While they may militarily occupy a large amount of territory, their ability to repress any political opposition would begin to diminish.
There is also the fact that the Iranian regime is dealing with a democratic alternative in the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which is a coalition of political opposition against the mullahs. The current regime uses human rights violations to maintain control, but there are cracks in their ability to maintain this tight level of control.
The comments from this former diplomat showcase the larger issue, which is how the Western nations and the international community as a whole will address their issues with the Iranian regime. The current hodge-podge diplomacy, financial ties, and sanctions have left the Iranian regime in a position of bolstering their position through military initiatives and changes in their economy to send more capital to the IRGC.
Overall, Iran’s policies have not changed and without a stricter and consistent policy from the international community, their behavior and policies will not change.
Destruction of ISIS Leaves Opening for Iranian Radical Empire