Sunday Telegraph – Leaders: The Iranian Hydra has many heads. The ayatollahs sponsor militias and political movements across the Muslim world and beyond. Hezbollah is, in reality, the Lebanese branch of the Islamic Revolution. Lop off that head and another will grow in its place. It is in Teheran that the monster’s heart beats.
The Sunday Telegraph
The Iranian Hydra has many heads. The ayatollahs sponsor militias and political movements across the Muslim world and beyond. Hezbollah is, in reality, the Lebanese branch of the Islamic Revolution. Lop off that head and another will grow in its place. It is in Teheran that the monster’s heart beats.
Israel is right to want to degrade its enemies’ infrastructure. A return to the status quo ante would mean a return to constant, low-level war – something which is in no one’s interest. Israel wants not only to lop off the Hydra’s head but to cauterise the wound; that is, to push the terrorists out of range of its cities.
This aim is understandable and laudable. But, as long as Iran goes unchecked, defeating Hezbollah can only ever mean a temporary truce.
Long before the current discontents began, this newspaper was advocating stronger action against Teheran. Those who object that this would destabilise the region need to consider what they mean by stability.
The mullahs themselves are stable enough: they ban opponents from challenging them at the ballot, close down hostile media and imprison or execute their critics. But this domestic stability is bought at the cost of international instability.
In Leninist terms, Iran exports its internal contradictions: an unpopular government distracts its population by a series of foreign adventures.
Thus, Iran is busily stirring up -trouble in southern Iraq and eastern Saudi Arabia, and among the Shia populations of the Gulf monarchies. Its agents are active in Central Asia, bringing their peculiar version of Islam to peoples who were once the most relaxed and secular in the Muslim world. And Teheran’s ambitions go well beyond the regional: it has sponsored terrorist attacks as far afield as Buenos Aires.
Why Buenos Aires? What possible strategic interest did Iran have in murdering 100 people at an Argentinian Jewish community centre in 1994? The answer, surely, is that it was flaunting its global reach.
For the defining characteristic of the Islamic Revolution is its refusal to recognise national borders.
The very first act of the revolutionary regime after 1979 was to seize the US embassy, thereby signalling its contempt for the notion of territorial jurisdiction. That act alone should have told us everything we needed to know.
Unfortunately, the international community – or, more particularly, the EU, which assumed responsibility for dealing with the mullahs – spent a decade cosying up to them, hoping that “constructive engagement” would dissuade the ayatollahs from their nuclear ambitions.
The policy of appeasement has failed; it is time to try coercion.
This does not necessarily mean the direct use of military force: there are many intermediate steps, including targeted sanctions, the seizure of assets and the sponsoring of opposition movements. But leaving Teheran unmolested will mean more Hezbollahs, more terrorism and, ultimately, more wars.