News from the Arab Press

Will Iran Fall Together With Venezuela?

By Asaf Zilberfarb | The Media Line

February 11, 2019

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Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February 8

On February 1, 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from France after 14 years in exile, becoming the first supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ten days after Khomeini’s arrival, the Shah’s government collapsed. On April 1, Iran was officially declared a republic. But the hundreds of thousands who received Khomeini at the airport were not aware that he was planning to establish an authoritarian religious regime. At that time, they wanted to get rid of the Shah without knowing what Khomeini was carrying in his bag. According to Shiite tradition, there are only 12 imams. Khomeini became the imam of the revolution and the imam of the Islamic Republic, and immediately eliminated anyone whom he knew from his past, even his closest confidants, chief of which was Sadiq Qutbzadeh, Khomeini’s so-called “spiritual son,” who helped spread Khomeini’s sermons on audio cassettes. Iranians, even those who dislike the regime he created, still venerate Khomeini because of his strong personality. Their veneration is similar to that of the Chinese Communists who remember Mao Zedong. To mark the 40th anniversary of the revolution, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, claimed that Hamas and Hizbullah are ready to open the gates of hell for the Jewish state. “Hundreds of kilometers of tunnels have been dug under Israeli feet. The resistance forces in Gaza and Lebanon have high precision rockets and are ready to respond to any foolish Israeli behavior,” he recently said in a televised address. Shamkhani did not mention Syria, where Iranian forces and bases are subjected to Israeli destructive strikes on a weekly basis. Nor did he mention the Hizbullah tunnels destroyed by Israel in a sudden attack. What is ironic is that as the Iranians seek freedom, they observe the people of Venezuela risk their lives for freedom. One cannot help but be reminded of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who signed a secret strategic cooperation agreement with former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2010, aimed at building a joint Iranian-Venezuelan missile base in South America to target the United States – just like the Soviets were planning to do in Cuba during the early 1960s. Iran paid the initial costs for this program, estimated at tens of millions of dollars, in cash. According to Iranian officials, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps also established cover companies in Venezuela, meant to help Tehran get a hold of enriched uranium. The leaders of Iran and Venezuela have long praised the strong strategic relationship between the two countries. However, Iran, once again, played some bad cards. It hedged its bets on an oppressive regime that is now coming under fierce fire both domestically and internationally. I can’t help but wonder if this Iranian-Venezuelan love affair, which has spanned several decades, is coming to an end. More importantly, will the regime in Tehran soon end up like the one in Venezuela? Will the two regimes, which rely on each other deeply, find their end together? –Hada al-Husseini

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