A former Iranian lawmaker says "the Islamic Republic expected regional countries to recognize it as the gendarme of the region just like before the 1979 revolution."
Ahmad Ardestani told Rouydad24 website in Tehran that "regardless of Iran's attempts, regional countries shaped their attitude after the Islamic revolution based on the United States’ view about the new Iran."
"The Islamic Republic created the Resistance Front to showcase its regional hegemony." Resistance Front is the regime’s officials' jargon about the anti-US alliance it has created in the region, by supporting militant proxy groups in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria.
According to Ardestani, the Islamic Republic uses the ‘Resistance Front’ to portray Tehran as a regional superpower. He said, no matter who likes it or not, Iran is at loggerheads with the United States and that explains its interaction with countries such as Russia and China.
"Unfortunately, Europe and the United States pushed Iran toward the East with their ‘maximum pressure policy’. Now Iran has strategic ties with Russia and China while it has failed to maintain a logical relationship with the West," Ardestani said.
Meanwhile, Mehdi Motaharnia, an academic in Tehran questioned the concept of regional supremacy. "Iran's regional influence cannot help Tehran if it is not used to create a peaceful life for Iranians." What the Iranian government needs at the current juncture is legitimacy, he reiterated.
Former Iranian lawmaker and academic Ardestani
Speaking about the interests of the Arab side, Ardestani said that after the suspected Iranian attack on Saudi oil facilities in September 2019 and Iran’s continuing support for the Houthis in Yemen, the Riyadh as well as others in the region including Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE, concluded that instead of “bribing the United States” for protection, they should get closer to Tehran.
Ardestani added that in such a situation Iran needs to establish logical relations with the West. However, he failed to observe, or living in Iran prudently skipped the fact that Tehran’s policy toward the West is mainly driven by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s unwavering anti-US and anti-West ideology.
Elsewhere in the interview Ardestani said that both Saudi Arabia and Iran benefit from their recent agreement brokered by China, as this makes Riyadh immune to US blackmails, and gives Tehran an opportunity to present itself as a confident and stable state. He further characterized Iran and Saudi Arabia as the two wings that keep the region stable.
Critics of the Biden Administration say that its cold attitude toward Saudi rulers pushed Riyadh to diversify its foreign policy options, by restoring ties with Tehran and eliminating a constant threat.
University professor Motaharnia
He expressed hope that the agreement with Saudis could be a prelude to a nuclear deal with the West. Ardestani said in a controversial comment that "Now when Iran has stopped just short of making the [nuclear] bomb, it is the best time to revive the JCPOA."
He added that Iranian expats wish to suggest to the US Congress and others that Iran is not stable as protests are raging in the streets, but the West's intelligence agencies have reassured governments that the claim about Iran's instability are not true.
However, Motaharnia highlighted the instability of the regime. "If you have international influence and even if you are a regional superpower, but your society is not peaceful and is in pain, not only your apparent supremacy is not important, but it is useless and probably only good for propaganda."
Motaharnia reiterated that the Iranian government is facing multiple challenges that have eroded its legitimacy and have made it isolated in the region and within the international community. These challenges are exerting pressure on the government as the people want to separate the state from religion and criticize the government for its inefficiency.
He said Iran needs to change, but changing is difficult for a government which sees itself over and above everything else in the society.