Political and security in Iran

Political and security conflicts between Iran and the Gulf states and what is the effect of Iranian foreign and security policy in the Gulf?

The Arabs and Persians for several years coexisted in harmony and unity for a long period of time frame without any form of security restriction and political boundary. Both the Persians and the Arabs belong to the same Islamic civilization hence share diverse common characteristics. For instance, the Arabs and Persians share aspects such as religion, emigrants, culture and the manner of conducting trade affairs. However, the level and nature of the relationship between the Arabs and Persians keeps on varying depending on the tension and political situation in each nation. In most cases, the tension that coexists between the Persians and Arabs keeps on fluctuating depending on the root of the cause of the tension.

In order to understand the root of political conflict and tension between the Gulf States, it is appropriate to understand the tribes that make up Iran. Iran consists of diverse ethnic groups that contribute to the majority of the people living in the suburb of Iran. However, it is essential to note that the larger portion of Iran consists of the Persians. Other existing and majority ethnic groups that form the population of Iran encompass of Arabs, Azeri, Baluchs and Kurds. The four ethnic groups although sparsely populated in Iran form a larger majority of the people living around the boarder of Iran. It is vital to also discover that Shia Islam play a chief role in Iran in the sense that it acts as glue hence unifying all the factions. In taking a keen interest in the history of Iran, it is evident that Shia Islam contributes to the unity of the other minority tribes in Iran hence reducing the rate of conflict in the entire nation.

The history of Iran also indicates that some of the ethnic groups decided to form autonomous states within the boarder of Iran. In the current state in Iran, it is evident that most of the minority groups still undergo struggle to reduce the instances of state discrimination policies. Most of the ethnic groups in Iran use the privilege of tyranny of number to rule over other minority group. Since the process of election consist of the people selecting the leader that best suites the people wishes and preferences, it becomes almost difficult for the minority groups to elect their own leader. The majority tribes in Iran will always vote in favor of the tribal grounds hence always electing their own preferred member of the society.

The ancient Persian Empire was one of the most powerful empires in the history of the Middle East nations. Ruling from the era of 500 BC to 651 AD, the Persian Empire was capable of taking control of major projects and areas in the region. Through the existence of the empire, the authority of the Persian regime managed to maintain the heritage cultural values and the language of the people. However, the Safavid Empire later emerged hence become the turning point of the Persian historical background. The Safavid Empire established a new era in the Persian history hence managing to reunify Iran and make it to become a state in the 1501BC. Through the proper management and ruling of the Safavid Empire, it established Twelver Shiism as the official religion.

The main reason for the introduction of the Twelver Shiism by the Safavid Empire was to distinguish Iran from the Sunni Ottomans. However, the Safavid faced huge challenges since a large population of the Iranians was Sunnis. This forced the Safavids to launch a bloody campaign that extended to Iraq hence managed to convert the population. During the bloody war, Iraq becomes the frontier of the Ottoman Empire hence revealing the Safavid Empire in the name of the Ottoman Empires. The existence of the war contributed to a steady conflict between the Iran and Iraq especially concerning the inherent boarder.

Under the ruling and management of the Safavid Empire, the gap that existed between the Shia Islam and that of the Sunni Islam widened because of the frequent misunderstandings. The Safavid Empire to ensure that it dominated in the region; it contributed to the replacement of the Sunni scholars from foreigners from other nations. The Shia scholars frightened of the rath of the Safavid authority, developed new practices for the purpose of shielding the state from the Summin Empire. The Sunni empire even went to the extent of including the pilgrimages to become part of the Shrines of the Imams.

In the entire Iranian community, the belief in the infallibility of Imam is one of the critical aspects to the Shi’tes. Most of the ethnic groups in Persian adhere strictly to a line of the twelve infallible imams that form the largest part of the Islamic religion. The Persian believes that the infallible imams descend from Ali and the last of them being Muhammad al Mahdi that lived during the 10th century. In according to the beliefs of the Persians, Muhammad lived a sacred life and died centuries ago. However, he will return at the end time to establish epitome rules that will assist in establishing truth from false.

Immediately after the revolution that took place in the year 1979, Khomeini further developed and modified the theories established by the Shia’s government. Until few years ago, it is evident to note that Iran has always had control of authority and the society at large through the assistance of the Hidden Imam. However, the imam to some extent assisted in the reduction of conflict between the Persians and other tribes. Since most of the Persians and other tribes consider the imams as sacred and spiritual beings, all the laws and regulations given by imams was well adhered by the larger society.

Although oil in the gulf becomes known to exist in the early 1908, none of the international nations and bodies gained the interest in the region until the major findings that took part in the 1930s. However, since the Second World War, the gulf oils have attracted the attention of almost all the developed and super powers hence becoming the greatest region for production of oil in the entire world. The controversy of foreign power in the gulf oil region commenced in the year 1960s immediately after the withdrawal of British. When the British withdrawal from the region, both the united states of America and the soviet union also known as USSR wanted to fill the vacuum. In the struggle, the America becomes the first foreign nation to install the first armed forces in Bahrain in the year 1971.

The entire nations that contribute to the Gulf States become aware and alarmed by the results of the withdrawal of the British from the region. The occurrence of the foreign interest and possible threats of the aggressive Soviet Union, Iran’s military expansion and Iraq’s revolution all contributed to the increased tension in the region. The ambition of the Iran military to take control over the region contributed to the increased interventionist policies. In favor of the Iran side, the pursuit of the region with the powerful and influential United States brought hopes of power in the region. The United States declared that Iran military and political policies had the mandate to replace the departure of the British power.

At the same time, Shah heading the imams and other religious leader in Iran rushed to build the military capabilities in Iran hence in a position to fulfill the ambition of controlling the Gulf. During the same period of lack of proper control of power over the gulf oil, Iran increased the territorial boundary through claiming of the dominion of the Bahrain margin. The claiming contributed to increased tension and fear in the region hence contributing to the instability in the relationship between Iran and Iraq. To resolve the issues concerning Bahrain to reduce the tension that would otherwise contribute to conflict between Iran and Iraq, the United Nations intervened. The mediation of the UN between Iran and the other gulf nations eventually come with an effective solution forcing Bahrain to become an independent state hence not owned and under other government.

In the year 1971, the Iranian government and military forces took over the control of the three islands Abu Mousa, the Greater and Lesser Tunbs that form the mouth of the Gulf. The three islands were originally a property of the United Arabs Emirates. However, since Iran had already power influence and military support from the United States, it becomes almost impossible for the United Arabs Emirates nations to reclaim back the islands. Until today, the islands that belong to the United Arab Emirates still illegally belong to the Iranian government. This aspect still has contributed to the matters that affect the smooth relationship that lies between the other Gulf nations and that of Iran.

In the year 1979, the Islamic revolution established one of the most historical and turning point in the entire Iranian history. The Islamic revolution marked the abolition of almost 2,500 years of the struggle that the entire Iran government had undergone through to develop the Iranian monarchy. The reason behind the destruction of the Iranian monarchy was the attempt of the experimental governing system proposed by the United States. The event of abolishing the monarchy in Iran contributed to the dynamic changes within Iran as a nation. Since most people were used to the imams and other religious leaders in making authoritative laws, it move made an impact to the Iranian nation. The relationship of Iran to the outside world also faced major challenges because of the change in the government system in Iran.

The social and economic injustice in the entire religious and ethnic groups becomes widespread. The Shah of Iran and Mohammed Reza of the period of Pahlavi all were against the “White Revolution” that slowly but drastically took over the management of the Iranian society and natural resources. Since the White Resolutions needed to modernize the Iranian society through adapting to the Western system, the Shah and Mohammed religious groups resisted the move to civilization. In accordance to the imams of Shah, only a minimal number of the people in Iran benefited from the entire western system that was almost taking over the Iran authority. Allegedly, the Shah Imams claimed that only the royal families and the elite in the society would benefit from the western system. For this reason, the Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and the Shah strongly conducted diverse campaigns urging the local citizens in Iran to refute the intrusion of the western system.

The Shah Imams also claimed that the western system would erode the rich Islamic culture in Iran hence the need of the society to reject the intrusion of the white revolution. The plans of both the Shah and Mohammed imams become fruitful since only a small percentage of the people saw the benefit of the white resolution. The rest of the society lived under the normal living standards because of the fear of the SAVAK which was an illegal Pahlavi dynastic secret police. However, it did not take long before the Iranian population saw the Shah as being a brutal and corrupt body of dictators.

In the years before the revolution, a larger population gain confidence and contributed to opposition movement against the Shah. People originating from all walks of life eventually become resistant to the shah authorities hence diverse ideologies existed to overwhelm the people. It never took long before the clergies also joined in the opposition because of the increase tension between the people and the Shah rulings. The existence of the clash between the Ulama and state indicated lack of unity between the people and the Islamic religion. Eventually almost all the people joined in search for the legitimacy of the government hence decided to neglect the Shah and Mohammed imams.

However, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini becomes the significant figure in unifying the two opposing sides. The uses of his slogan, “Independence Freedom Islamic Republic” Ayatollah become significant in reducing the rivalry between the two sides. Since the Shah still resistance to the white revolution, Khomeini face threats hence forcing him to seek exile in Iraq for safety. However, Khomeini still was efficient in offering peace information through the use of radio and also insisted in the overthrowing of the Shah regime. In his own opinion, Ayatollah promoted the existence of a better government which he termed as jurisprudence or Velayat-e faqih.

However, in the year 1979, Saddam Hussein becomes the head of government in Iran on the 16 July hence forcing Khomeini to seek exile in Paris. However, this still did not hinder Khomeini from undertaking his diverse roles especially concerning spread of ideology against the corrupted Shah government. The means of communication that Khomeini used to pass the message was through the use of the tape-recorded hence spread ideologies and motives to encourage massive protest. In the year 1980, in the month of January, Khomeini successfully managed to travel back home in Iran and become the founder of the Islamic Republic party of Iran.

Even to date, the Iranian government still operates on the basis of Velayat-e-faqih. The basis of the ruling includes cleric with exhaustive knowledge concerning the entire Islamic law and people that represent the Mahdi which is a messianic figure. In the end of the year, the concept of Khomeini was incorporated into the Iranian constitution. This gave an upper hand and priority to the laws of the Shi’ite and institutions thus ignoring the other ethnic minority groups in Iran. The major aim of the government was aimed at eliminating any other restrictions against the Ulama power.

The entire incidents that took place in Iran in the year 1979 during the dramatic revolution contributes to the origin of alteration and regional geo-political imbalance in the entire Persian Gulf. Using the use of the new Iranian government Ayatollah managed to declare his aspiration with the consent of overthrowing the gulf monarchs. Iran took the first measure through trying to coup plot the Bahrain, attacks on the United States facilities implemented in the Gulf States and later unrest Kuwait.

However, President Saddam Hussein noticed some weakness in the Iran government from the revolutionary chaos. In utilizing this opportunity, Hussein attacked Iran to mitigate newly formed Islamic Republic rules and regulations from inspiring the people of Iraq. Saddam managed to stop the Islamic republic from conquering the Shiite majority in his own nation and also gained enough strategic depth in the Iranian border. The war that occurred between Iran and Iraq become a defining moment and a point of determining the relationship between the Iran and the rest of the Gulf Arab nations in the entire era of the 1980s.

Immediately after the occurrence of the revolutionary war, the small minority states in the Gulf, such as; Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates joined together with Saudi Arabia to form a political and security alliance better known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Since the other two majority nations, Iran and Iraq had selfish goals concerning the Gulf, the minor states decided to unite together with Saudi Arabia to form the best of the security. The security meant that all the other minor nations would safeguard the interest of the other small nation in case any of the majority nations attacked. Most of the Gulf minority states during that era sided with Iraq because of the benefits obtained from the nation. Even the United Arab Emirates although had boundary issues with Iraq, it still sided largely with Iran rather than with Iran.

During the war, both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait underwrote and supported Saddam war effort through the tune of an estimated 40 billion dollars. The move contributed to the split of the United Arab Emirates hence each nations decided to side with its own opinion. However, the Umm Al-Quwain and Dubai Sharjah never supported any of the sides but decided to remain neutral all through the war. The main reason of remaining neutral was the fear of jeopardizing trade and other useful links together with the links of the Iran. For this reason, Dubai to date has flourished and is the current re-supply Centerport for the Iranian government. However, the capital of the United Arabs Emirates; Abu Dhabi supported the Saudi-Kuwait position.

After the war in 1984, both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia entered into the war when Iraq struck Iran’s main oil terminal. Iran retaliated the action through striking at tankers of the entire Gulf nations which were allied to Iraq. Since the war took along period without ending, the United States decided to intervene by trying to re-flag Kuwait and Saudi tankers. However, the move further raised tension between Washington and Tehran. In the process of peacemaking, one of the United States ships was hit hence the United States military attacked and bombarded the entire Iranian oil platform in the year 1987. The tension that existed between the Iranian and United States government unfortunately contributed to the shooting down of an Iranian civilian passenger plane by the USS Vincennes.

The accident contributed to the death of 290 passengers and since the year 1988, the Iranian government has always longed to revenge the actions of the United States. The war between Iran and Iraq ended when the United Nations enacted the 598 resolution in the year 1988 the month of August. The end of the war never gave a clear victor but however, it contributed to the introduction of the Gulf big trio entailing of the three majority nations in the Gulf; Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq. Until currently, the Gulf big trio has always acted in sustaining the peace and security between the majority and minority nations in Gulf.

In the current situation that is facing the Gulf Arabian nations, there exists no quick fix to the current challenges and problem facing the region security. In accordance to the research carried out by several historical scholars, it is evident that the Gulf States have undergone through diverse crisis. In the period of the last three decades, the occurrence of events in the region have attributed to the destabilization of the region. However, in an effort to tackle the issues and challenges affecting the region, it is appropriate that both the minority and majority of the nations unite and formulate long-term strategies.

In the past, several measures and strategies enacted to formulate peace within the region have failed. It is important to note that the Gulf security cannot only exist by containing the threats imposed by the Iranian government. It is also important to note that relying on the military powers of any given nation might also not help in combating the level of insecurity in Gulf States. However, it ought to become the responsibility of all the Gulf States to develop a comprehensive and non-bias security strategy in regards to the basis and capabilities of the states. However the states also need to consider the other super powers and nations in the western regions such as the United States and Japan that can play significant roles in maintaining peace through security in the Gulf States.

Since the role of Iraq acting as one of the regional actors in sustaining and maintaining adequate security in the Gulf region has diminished, there have occurred diverse incidents that have contributed to regional imbalance. All the nations in the gulf regions have remarked on individual state goals and selfish needs hence forgetting about sustaining regional security. In the current state, all the nations have neglected the responsibility to United States which is not even a member in the Gulf region. All the other nations have feared to join together or individually to establish a stable power capable to capacity the counter of Iran daily increment of power. The nations also have lacked enough support and capacity to replace the vacuum of power left by the withdrawal of the United Sates from the region.

However, the solution to the problems and challenges facing the nations at the Gulf regions lie within the states. The Gulf States ought to have a common goal and agree together to enhance the security in the region through the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The chief aspect that contributed to the establishment of the GCC is the aspect of launching a body that would promote the aspect of regional security. The GCC council contributed to the establishment of the strategic cooperation and defensive measures to unit all the Gulf States. The centre building block of the Gulf Cooperation Council is the regional security. For this reason, all the states in the Gulf need to understand the essence of the council and work in strengthening of the essence and existence of the council.

In the current world, the Iranian ambition to own and use the nuclear weapons is a great threat to the regional stability. The Gulf Cooperation Council in the region is the only formed and existing body that all the states in the Gulf accept and willing to cooperate without defiance. For this reason, it is evident that the GCC is the only essential tool and means through which the region can access and promote regional unity. Most of the minority nations such as Omar and United Arab Emirates have always supported and agreed to the diverse strategies implemented by the GCC.

However, the majority of the nations with a larger population such as Iran have always lacked support for the council. In accordance to the recent studies conducted in the years 2012 by the United States Security bureau, it is evident that most of the religious leaders in other minor nations have agreed on the rules and regulations enacted by the GCC. The statistics indicates that an average of 56 percent of the citizens in the minority states support the Gulf Cooperation Council. However, this is contrary to the majority states such as Iran that only 25 percent of the entire population supports the GCC.

At first, the foals and aspirations of the Gulf Cooperation Council appeared to mirror those of the European Union (EU). In fact, in an in depth look into the goals and objective of both the GCC and those of the EU, it is easier to conclude that the two bodies work under the same missions and vision. However, the gist of establishing the GCC was to foster the ties between the Gulf States. The need for the creation of the council was not to look into the interest of a single nation but at the interest of all the Gulf States. The aim of the creation of the GCC was not to assist in the economic ties and challenges in the region.

However, to ensure that the Gulf region become free of wars and sustain the cultural values of the region. The key urge that contributed to the establishment of the GCC is the formation of an organization that would foster, “joint Creed,” “Unity of heritage” and coordination within the region. In achieving the cooperation especially with the minority and majority of the states in Gulf region, the states would eventually become developed and stable. The relationship between the Gulf States and the rest of the world is poorly developed and actually fading.

Initially, the British become interested in the region and took over power hence maintaining security and coordination between states such as Iran and Iraq. However, after the departure of Britain power, all the majority states such as Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq wanted to take over the power. At first, the Iranian government took over the responsibility of sustaining peace and security within the region. However, after utilizing the power in a selfish manner to attain own goals and objectives, other states such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia decided to make decisions on their own. In fact the revolutionary war that occurred during the late 1970s and early 1980s contributed to huge misunderstanding in the region. The fighting between the Iran and Iraq attributed to splitting of the unity ties that united the states in the Gulf region. Some of the nations were forced to support the Iranian while others supported the Iraq side.

The United States since the withdrawal of the British took over the Gulf region hence trying the level best to maintain the level of security. Currently the United States plays a vital role in ensuring that steady flow of oil is not interfered with the challenges facing the region. Although the gulf region faces numerous problems, the region still supplies the world with the highest amount of oil. Many approaches have played a chief role in ensuring that the United States launches and sustain stability in the region. The first measure that the united states under took was the use of the twin-pillar enacted by President Richard Nixon.

Nixon immediately took over the region after Britain surrender and withdraw the Gulf causing a power vacuum. The twin-pillar policy enacted by the US government aided in the development of both the Saudi Arabian and Iran military capability. This method worked since the American interest in the region has maintained and the military established have succeeded in restricting any further military burden. During that era the United Sates faced numerous challenges like the participation in the Vietnam War, it become almost impossible to totally take over the Gulf region. This aspect contributed to the training of the military in the two nations to aid in the resistance of other super powers such as China and Soviet from taking over.

The launching of the twin-pillar worked since it limited the expansion of the Soviet Union. At the same time, the policy also worked in retraining Saddam Hussein who received back up from the USSR. However, ever since, diverse doctrines and treaties have taken measures to ensure that peace and security level remains the chief interest in the region. The future of the entire Gulf region depends on the ability of the states to sustain and maintain regional security. However, this goal and objective requires both international and regional comprehensive strategies. Since the most of the majority of the nations in the Gulf region such as Iran and Iraq have negative reputations internationally, there is need to refresh peace ties.

To enhance the security level in the Gulf region, it is needed that full-scale reforms take shape in reinforcing economic, political, cultural and military areas. Through a keen study of the challenges originating from the Gulf region, it is essential to note that stability in both security and political regime cannot occur without economic stability. The current tension that exists between the other Gulf States and Iran impact directly the economic, social status of the region. Consequently, this contributes to the disrupted and slow development instances taking place in the region.

The level of occurrence of conflict in the region in the past two decades has attributed to emergence of selfishness and self-centered leadership. Most of the presidents that take over the power in any of the majority nation focus on acquiring wealth. This affects the distribution of resources and other essential needs of achieving modernization impacting negatively the development agenda. The wars in the region contribute to the current huge gap that exists between the rest of the world and Gulf region in terms of development standards. Although the region receives adequate supply of cash from exports of oil, the region has concentrates on power struggle and forgotten about development agenda.

Therefore, to improve on the security economic and political cases in the Gulf region, it is vital for the nations to have a common goal. Through councils such as the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Gulf state nations will increase the chances of peaceful ties. The GCC will automatically consider the economic priorities of each of the states in the region. The council will also foster the unity through political and government advancement a common understanding. The existence of peaceful ties within the Gulf region will encourage international investors into the region hence rejuvenate the development agenda of the regime.

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