tv Doc Film - Iran - From Theocracy to Regional Superpower Deutsche Welle August 6, 2018 3:15am-4:01am CEST
it's how people call me. as a journalist i often talk about his focus in that the less i look at him. i like to stack my day by checking out all those jobs finding out what people are talking about what is moving them. my father taught me how to ask uncomfortable questions about my country and about books that is what i keep doing to this day my name is fadi so i work at the that you. with the different languages we fight for different things that's fine but we all stick up for freedom freedom of speech and freedom of press. giving freedom for global news that matters d.w. made for minds.
thanks. from syria and iraq to lebanon and yemen iran is actively involved in various conflicts around the middle east weakening its adversaries and positioning itself as the new regional power. i is this new presence of tehran outside its own borders a sign of expansionism or even imperialism or a statement of nationalism designed to protect the country and guarantee for longevity of its regime. understanding the story of the rebirth of the islamic republic. means delving into the chaos of middle eastern was
unraveling the threads of history and distinguishing recurrent elements from the interruptions. it's an intriguing story of a long isolated country that is today of central importance and feared a country convinced through dialogue to stop developing nuclear weapons while still sending its revolutionary guard to find around the region.
that. the story begins in tehran on july the fourteenth two thousand and fifteen after twelve years of negotiations and extreme tension iran allows its nuclear program to be monitored in exchange it obtains the progressive lifting of sanctions stifling its economy for the large majority of iranians this agreement is a source of enormous hope that their country can at last participate in and benefit from globalization. too they could have built the end of hope on this issue but now we were in a new chapter of. instead of being regarded as a pariah state the islamic republic now hopes to be acknowledged as a full member of the international community.
this day marks a triumph for mohammad zarif iran's minister of foreign affairs. and for husain rouhani and president of the republic. thirty seven years after the revolution it is an unprecedented strategic shift by releasing a run from isolation president rouhani hopes to renew his country's relations with the rest of the world. president rouhani they had a very good job and negotiating the deal but the idea certainly not came from him it came from the supreme leader he was the one who had come to the conclusion that this issue had to be resolved at that time. the since the one nine hundred seventy nine revolution and the advent of the islamic republic it is the supremely leader appointed for life that has been master of the system and the real head of state. as
a share theocracy the supreme leader's power is superior to that of the president of the republic who was elected by the people since the death of ayatollah khomeini in one thousand nine hundred nine the supremely has been ayatollah ali how monday it was he who initiated the negotiations even before the election of president rouhani. the. the supreme leader had realized that the situation treanor clear was not sustainable economically wrong was not in a sustainable situation inflation was about forty percent unemployment was at a really high rates of around twenty five forty percent for the new. and the economy was shrinking at a rate of minus seven percent. and this was an arts as they both situation. for
a succession. good afternoon it's time to move which iran agreed to take part in these negotiations in order to emerge from isolation and thought through and to reestablish links with the outside world. just bashing economic sanctions notably those of the united nations and the embargo were factors that brought us to the negotiating table. will dictate and. but there's another reason why the leader accented nuclear negotiations the memory of the green movement of two thousand and nine. following the widely disputed reelection in june of the ultra conservative mahmoud ahmadinejad as president of the republic the people demanded the vote be overturned. the islamic republic was feeling the pressure was.
but the supreme leader refused to give in to the demonstrators he up held up medina jansa point went and put down the protests with extraordinary brutality. my. colleague from on a probably saved the regime that year but what price in knew he would need to give some leeway if his hold on power were to be preserved. i think this sort of awareness that iran had been through its own brush with potential regime instability in two thousand and nine with the most serious protests that had taken place since the one nine hundred seventy nine revolution cast a very long shadow and it was clear that. there was a consensus decision to move away from the kind of provocations that characterize
the period and move toward a new rapprochement at least with the broader international community community if not with the united states specifically. in shia islam the main leader of the shias that bush is the first. to science. her son and her same. chose the path of peace and negotiations and hussein shows the power of confrontation and martyrdom so these two schools of thought provide different justifications for different policies and republic and the supreme leader it was their idea. and one her son's peace and reconciliation in the frame that was honorable an honorable peace of your one. he called that
heroic flexibility which allowed them to make the compromise that was pretty painful with the great satan. in the name of heroic flexibility the leader and allowed himself to overcome the islamic republic's visceral anti americanism one of the regime's major ideological standpoints and enter negotiations with the united states. the islamic republic's anti americanism goes back to the early days of the revolution. in november one thousand nine hundred seventy nine iranian students
took fifty two american diplomats hostage. their objective was to demonstrate that the new islamic order was set against the west des particularly against the influence of the united states. this new regime had not forgotten that twenty six years earlier in one thousand nine hundred fifty three the cia had organized a coup to time there will be no question of history repeating itself. no force that's you don't forget that back then prime minister most a decade been overthrown by an american coup. in one hand the islamic revolution hadn't yet come about so the americans had shown their hostility towards our people well before the revolution. that the us is set to some how we can iran's. iran's you know
nation estate let's put it in that way and the u.s. will not change its policy because the pillars of political structure in the us will not accept iran as a regional power that has its own independent then two way of economic political event security a military you know policies this is very strong. anti americanism is accompanied by implacable opposition to the state of israel in ten rounds eyes israel is washington's proxy in the region and an opponent of the palestinians and their rights.
i think after the revolution the iranians quickly realize that in order to have influence in the region and project power in the region they have to be seen not as a shia power but as an islamic power and this is the region and the reason that they picked up the cause of palestine because of palestine was left on the ground by the arabs and it was a was an issue and allowed iran to play the role of a of a muslim power and not as a shia power. while if we. religious looking at our country's national security considerations we consider that the zionist regime is a usurping and illegitimate regime in the region. as such it constitutes our biggest regional threat. globally speaking that thread is the united states with the anti israel a and anti american stance is a closely linked to run no longer has any official relations with the two countries
since the hostage crisis of nine hundred seventy nine the american embassy has become a museum. inside everything has been preserved as it was. the last reminder of the heroic time surrounding the foundation of the islamic republic. american islam did not prevent iran from being pragmatic and negotiating a resolution to the nuclear crisis with the united states on january the sixteenth two thousand and sixteen at the headquarters of the international atomic energy agency in vienna dignitaries signed a joint comprehensive plan of action. right now your work really begins yes yes. the economic sanctions on iran were officially lifted for the first time since the
one nine hundred seventy nine revolution washington and tehran had managed to resolve an international crisis through diplomacy and dialogue the historic antagonism between the two countries might soon become a thing of the past. i think president obama and secretary kerry held out hope that in the long term very long term starting a diplomatic. process with iran making it ok for americans to speak with iran showing that we could do deals with iran could help over time change iran's foreign policy as opposed to always just containing iran and being against iran. in the declarations made by the supreme leader and other senior figures. there was this idea that if the nuclear deal work correctly applied and everyone respected
their commitments and promises then it would bring concrete results i mean. it would be possible to enter into other negotiations on other issues on the basis of this excess power for jewish bit if. from here on iran hope to normalize its relations with the west but the country was then confronted with a syria and iran crises which would give it the opportunity to use other methods than diplomacy to once again become a major player in the middle east. behest as a car cemetery in tehran is the biggest in the country. the
man known as post was named. day he was an officer in the revolutionary guard who was killed in september two thousand and sixteen in syria. the revolutionary guard corps created in one nine hundred seventy nine is the most powerful security organization in the country it's the tehran regime's praetorian guard. no one knows how many soldiers iran has lost in syria probably several hundred from the beginning of the popular uprising against a basher in the spring of two thousand and eleven to run has taken the side of the syrian regime a regime that it has always considered to be an historical and strategic ally.
to appreciate the importance of this relationship we need to go back to the iran iraq war. in september one thousand eight hundred satam hussein decided to invade iran just months after the revolution the fledgling islamic republic was threatened with destruction. and that. in the iranian collective memory syria was the only country to supporters during the war against iraq. and we've never forgotten that that hard to the war which was. that sense of strategic solitude that the romulans experienced during the iran iraq war had deep impact on your thinking and or threat assessment and it still to this day influences how they see the world.
the fact that saddam used chemical weapons against iran were. then tyrants international community was looking away has created this sense of paranoia in iran being able to have its own convention on defense mechanisms and iran not trusting and the international community to look after its interests. this devastating conflict lasted eighteen years and cost the lives of nearly five hundred thousand on the iranian side alone. a traumatic experience for the population the fight against the iraqi army allowed the islamic republic to bolster its legitimacy. today the streets of tehran are still replete with memorials to the martyrs who
died on the front all those years ago. this war against iraq also comprised a sort of geo strategic matrix the notion of never again has been dominant ever since. never again victims of chemical weapons never again the sight of enemy aircraft in the skies over tehran and never again the slightest patch of territory trampled on by a foreign army. i think in the iranian mind said moving or pushing away the threats from the iranian borders has been a constant and it's very a strong and it can mobilize the konami you know. forces and to tackle that and that's very strong and i don't think these will soon be removed from iran. in order to compensate the sense of strategic solitude that they experienced during those years. iran has developed to
a symmetric defense of policies one as its ballistic missile program which given the fact that it doesn't have an air force is the only way that it can reach its rivals or enemies on their soil and the second is what they call a forward defense policy which is based on hiring partners and proxies away from its borders so that it can actually do terror a direct attack on iranian soil. as well la is the crown jewel of this forward the fence policy. would include his would you q would you do this letter she should get on hezbollah is a strategic ally of iran. you have
a as you look at this lebanese group has the same ideology as iran is would like to hit it to be of age whatever we see as so it is naturally a very close ally to let is. hardly to laugh when his last hezbollah is also an ally of syria will use his word love with him this past so it is a link between ourselves and syria the. more this true year that if about what you know what did how do you might ask and like ourselves in syria. hezbollah is hostile towards israel c s a how you understood that you had to me was. there was a lot. for terror on maintaining those links with lebanese shia organization hezbollah is therefore a necessity the political and military group which iran co-founded in the early one
nine hundred eighty s. is to this day an ally and an. essential tool in the latter's resistance to israel i am for a. it's through syria that iran has provided hezbollah with logistic and strategic count. and if you talk to iranian officials today many believe that the reason israel did not attack iran at the height of the nuclear standoff was because they were afraid of hezbollah loss of power of retaliation not because of iran's capabilities so for tehran defending the damascus regime is a question of self interest it must not for as of late two thousand and eleven the islamic republic decided to send military advisors to has been in syria to support bashar al assad its efforts to crush the rebellion.
tehran had its own outlook on the syrian conflict in its size the civil uprising among part of the population against bashar al assad never took place tehran saw it as a conspiracy engineered by the west and israel. turned on was why i support bashar al assad because he was and is the legitimate president of syria so we are probably stayed out loud that military advisors of the islamic republic of iran have helped the syrian military the syrian government and the syrian people in order to avoid terrorists taking power over this country and replacing the legitimate syrian government. protests around the country behind the terrorist threat in syria in saudi arabia. and in riyadh the saudi leaders have indeed been looking forward to the fall of bashar assad since
the beginning of the syrian crisis a means for them to oppose the rise in power of iran in the region. the kingdom understood very well and told. lewiston countries if you look at all of the public statements from saudi officials they identified easy iran as the main supporter of bashar that's it and therefore the kingdom called on all of the countries in the west in europe and in america to oppose the iranian. direction. and control over the situation in syria syria became the stage for a radical standoff between the region's two systems of power and the sunni saudi monarchy against the shiite islamic republic of iran. i think many
people including many american many americans and many europeans underestimated the degree to which syria was a red line for iran and that iran was willing to really take risks and put the resources in to back assad assad. i think the same is true for russia. neither iran nor russia wanted to accept. the notion of regime change that people in the middle east could ride out rise up and get rid of their leader we know russia has a real. reaction to that in iran. in september two thousand and fifteen russia began large scale intervention on the iranian side to defend bashar assad. but meanwhile another protagonist appeared in the middle eastern theater. on june the twelfth two thousand and fourteen islamic state forces took control of iraq's second city mosul
a few days later in syria fell into jihad is towns and became the capital of the self-styled islamic caliphate. protests around the advances made by ass and extremist sunni terrorist movement that sees the share as one of its principal enemies radically change the stakes while continuing to defend the damascus regime the islamic republic was now fighting for its survival as much in syria as in iraq. but the steal. of the shares your friendship with iraq is precious to us. naturally iraq's security is also ours and by subversive. the same is true for syria. and the syrians don't overcome the jihadists at home they will enter iraq and then our country. and spread throughout the region that. we
get beaten by one of their. own job that is why the security of the muslim world and that of iran depends on the security of syria. that we. so to defend its borders iran openly sent soldiers from its codes force an elite unit of the republican guard to both syria and iraq. you know i think you know runs influence and commitment in iraq was present well before mozilla in the summer of twenty fourteen really go all the way back to the u.s. intervention in two thousand and three. telamon the shia majority government. role that arabia militia played. ever since then the iranian presence was both opportunistic to expand its power expand its influence in the region but
also defensive because first of all didn't want to return to power of this party in the sunni arab domination secondly it didn't want the united states to use iraq as a platform to launch either an invasion or asymmetrical warfare against iran in a thought that that was actually possible at the time i think that the conflict that we witnessed in syria and iran in iraq pushed iranians increasingly to act as a sectarian power in order to mobilize support for their cause in the region there was no water way for them to to other than becoming increasingly sectarian they have to marshal support for elsewhere and they have to marshal support from the afghanis. migrants in iran and and the pockets danis shia pakistanis and they have to use for a legend they have to shia them. and therefore they have to act in
a much more sectarian way. with the help of the shia iran managed to make its presence felt in syria and iraq the revolutionary guard units being the essential tool in this strategy and thanks to the victory on the ground they have undoubtedly never had so much influence in the iranian political game. as the ins caliphate looked close to collapse the islamic republic was in the press. of establishing an unbroken territorial corridor to the mediterranean via baghdad damascus and beirut . for certain western countries as for saudi arabia iran had become the new leader of the great regional game and playing it was now a question of doing as much as possible to reduce its influence.
riyadh may the twenty first two thousand and seventeen donald trump on his first foreign visit is u.s. president it presents an opportunity to define the new middle east policy of the united states together with his allies a major strategic turnaround. probably wanted to win back the middle east particularly our set of allies. sunni arab states led by saudi arabia turkey and israel and what he heard from all
of those leaders and all of us are heard from them is are rare is the big threat it's not isis convinced of the dividends from this new approach trump now refused any idea of possible dialogue with iran. saudi arabia has welcomed mr trump's realistic approach to meeting the challenge of iran's extra territorial ambitions in the area and we think it was about time that the us walk up to the fact that the problem with iran is not just nuclear development but it is this ambition to expand its control over the arab countries around it and mr trump was very much responsive to this idea the visit to saudi arabia was a clear signal that the u.s. is going to now completely side with iran sunny neighbors and
support them and arm them and the obama era of believing that the region should be shared between iran and saudi arabia was over and that was i think that trip to saudi arabia and the rhetoric against iran was the turning point. president trump's insistence upon this new american vision of the middle east came as a relief to the saudi monarchy. a saudi monarchy weakened by the bloody conflict in yemen which it is bogged down in. since march two thousand and fifteen the young crown prince mohammed bin summoned the new strongman of the kingdom has been at the hands of a vast military coalition against the rebel who theories who are regarded as tehran's trojan horse. is there an offshoot
of sick in yemen called those a.d.'s. who have sworn allegiance. to iran like hezbollah in lebanon. publicly declared that they want to liberate the holy places in saudi arabia. from the saudi government so it cannot to the rate the busines of it in the pollution or god willing and country in its south and border that is a red line for saudi arabia you cannot accept iran and its militia has blood of pollution you got your south thing done with the reality that seventy mountains area you cannot control it's very difficult to to really close the line it cannot and go inside the country so you had to take an action this is this is wrong.
because it is now that iran's presence be compared with the saudis presence in circling the entire tape the area of yemen i mean there has been some minimal you know supports and aids going there there has been some you know. political support for the yemeni you know favored political parties no doubt but comparing the korean size of the two sites involvement in yemen you can it's easy to be understood that iran is not that involved and its presence is in a minimal way. whatever the reality of iran's military intervention might be the conflict was now at a stalemate riyadh and its allies imposed a turtle blockade on the northern part of the country dominated by the who thinks coalition bombing had led to a humanitarian disaster. in
addition to the civilian victims and the tens of thousands of people displaced nearly eight million were risk of starvation in november two thousand and seventeen the u.n. classified the situation as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world it's very clear that whether we like the saudis and how they're waiting there while the saudis are never going to allow themselves to be faced with the is really problem of one hundred fifty thousand iranian supplied missiles in the hands of an iranian surrogate on their borders in southern lebanon the saudis see the same thing coming along their borders with yemen and if they have to bomb the entire country to the stone age they will so the idea is we have to find a way to. eliminate that threat. for the new american administration the situation is clear beyond the shocking humanitarian situation.
the yemen conflict was additional proof of iranian plans to dominate the middle east eager to take action donald trump chose the nuclear dossier while the international agency in charge of monitoring the two thousand and fifteen deal indicated that iran was respecting its obligations the american president insisted that this was untrue on october thirteenth two thousand and seventeen he decertified the deal insisting it no longer corresponded to the interests of the united states. based on factual record i have put forward i am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification. we will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence more terror and the very real threat of a red and blue clear break thank you trump also demanded that the other signatory
countries tighten the terms of the deal failing which he would definitely walk away from it. this american turn around put the international iran nuclear deal on hold and on the brink of collapse. i think the trump and ministrations decision to decertify around in compliance with the nuclear deal was based solely on the president's insistence that we do so it had nothing to do with the actual facts of the matter and it is nothing to do with what actually might be useful to getting to some strengthening of the terms of the deal or any other diplomatic outcomes it was entirely dissatisfied the president's ego that's obviously a very risky strategy which could lead to the erosion of the deal and it's not clear to me that president trump or anyone around here would really has a plan for what they would do if they j.c. j.c. p.r. way were out of place it would only push the iranians to double down on the
policies of. their missile program and therefore the friends policy it would not push more moderate of iranian behavior in the region if the is being you know in a way that you know these troy. then you know a new era of distrust will be created in both countries relations which in my believe is not good for both sides. in tehran it is clearly understood that the american administration refuses to ratify the new position that iran occupiers on the regional chance board but the iranian leaders also know that their country's new role in the middle east is a very delicate one between the joint handling with russia of the syrian issue riyadh's obsessive hostility the changing political map in iraq and the security
fears over israel they need to be able to arbitrate between the opposing interests of their enemies and their partners. iran is a self limiting our the more it pushes the more resistance of creates because at the end of the day it's a shia country among signings it's a persian country and arabs so without any doubt there is a ceiling for how much influence iran can have in the region but there is also a floor for how much influence of can have because it is of the region and it cannot be entirely excluded from the region. at the same time the islamic republic is at a crossroads in its history the aging supreme leader ali khamenei is increasingly frail and sick his succession will be a crucial element in the restructuring of the future political balance of the country. in the case of the current supreme leader is office
is a big bag black box probably around a few thousand people working in that office and no one has a clear understanding of the power dynamics in that office the most influential people in that office and his own plans and designs for succession decision surrounding succession and how it plays out within iran will be enormous lead consequential. for the future of iran and stability of the islamic republic and for the capacity of iran to continue casting such a wide influence across the region we simply don't know how succession will play out but often in iran the most powerful institution at the time of the transition will determine what comes next and the most powerful institution at the moment is the revolutionary guards in iran with the. economic power and influence. the revolutionary guard is particularly keen to prevent another protagonist
wielding influence in the internal political debates of the country this other protagonist meaning the iranian people. at the end of december two thousand and seventeen tens of thousands of them took to the streets in eighty towns and cities across the country. despite the repression leaving twenty five people killed and three thousand seven hundred arrested they denounce the deterioration in their standard of living widespread cronyism and corruption amongst the leadership with cries of down with hezbollah and not carter not lebannon my soul is for iran. these demonstrators address the salient point if the regime prefers to spend resources on its lebanese syrian iraq and yemeni allies rather than on its own
citizens then it loses legitimacy. the islamic republic has never been as powerful outside its own borders as it is today. with the demise of the i ask caliphate the regime is facing a further loss in popular support for its military actions and growing calls for a radical change in. priorities. in the eyes of many iranians the unfair to should no longer use history as a means of propaganda and instead focus on ensuring economic and social justice for all and guarantee freedom of speech. such reforms appear key to the regime survival without change it is likely that further protests will follow and even uprisings they in turn could lead to a spiral of violence and to a radicalization of the regime or to its collapse.
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