Khomeinism and Iranian Foreign Policy

Ayatollah Khomeini introduced a governing principle according to which Iranian national interests take precedence over sharia. This may seem surprising for an Islamist theocratic regime but can be observed in Iranian foreign policy for various parts of the world. Iran is completely silent on China’s Han colonization of Xinjiang and totalitarian policies of coerced assimilation of Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang. Iran supports Christian Armenia despite its occupation of Twelver Shia Muslim Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region. Iran supports Russia in its military aggression against Ukraine and occupation of Ukrainian lands despite Crimea and southern Ukraine historically having been under Islamic rule. Iran did not protest against Russia’s brutal suppression of the Chechen insurgency in the 1990s. Iran supports the anti-Islamist secularist Syrian regime (which is controlled by secular members of the non-Muslim, Crypto-Jewish Alawite denomination of core Median Judaism) against the Islamist opposition.

What we can see is that the Iranian regime is generally faithful to Khomeini’s principle of subordinating sharia to Iranian national interests. Exceptions to this faithfulness to Iranian national interests are Iran’s irrationally adversarial attitude towards Israel and the United States and it needs to be clearly understood why this is so. Before the 1979 Islamist revolution, Iran enjoyed amicable and fruitful relations with Israel and America but this completely changed when Khomeini came to power armed with conspiratorial Islamist totalitarian ideology according to which the American superpower is a Jewish conspiracy with the Jewish state being one of its tentacles. This perception is certainly not unique to Khomeinism but is the view of Islamist ideologues generally and thus no less central to the Islamist Weltanschaung than the notion of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy is to Nazism and was to post-WWII Soviet Communism. In fact, the Islamist notion that the United States is a Jewish “octopus” is derived from the Soviet propaganda of Operation SIG, the KGB Cold War era global Anti-Semitic propaganda campaign. Of course, Iran opposes Israel because it is Jewish considering the perceived national/religious character of the ostensible “octopus”.

The conception of self-made apocalypse is something which distinguishes Khomeinism from all other forms of Islamism. While Iranian intelligence is active worldwide, including somewhat surprisingly prominently in Latin America, Iranian expansionism in Islamdom is focused like a laser beam on its escatological region, namely the very region where the three apocalyptic figures of Islam are expected to appear: Mahdi in Mecca, Jesus in Damascus and the Dajjal (Deceitful Messiah) in Jerusalem. Iranian hostility against Israel is primarily because Islamic eschatology expects that the returned Jesus will kill the Dajjal and defeat and massacre the Jews in Israel. Thus Iranian hostility towards the United States is primarily because of the perceived American-Jewish “octopus” while Iranian hostility towards Israel is primarily because it is considered an escatological imperative. However, the Islamic notion that the Jews will recognize the Dajjal as their Messiah and a reincarnation of the God of Israel means that Iranian strategic planners expect American Jews to become followers of the Dajjal as well. Thus, they view the “worldwide Jewish conspiracy” as a Satanic scheme that is part of and leading up to the end of days.

Iran’s nuclear weapons program plays a central part in Iran’s eschatological plans. Iran understands that once it has a deterrence arsenal of missiles with nuclear warheads, it can then attack the world with weapons of mass destruction with full impunity. This is Iran’s Plan A. Iran’s Plan B is to lash out with chemical and biological weapons against nations deemed important to the American-Jewish “octopus” once Israel and America destroy the Iranian nuclear weapons program. This is predicated on several assumptions. First, the assumption is that lashing out against the forces of the Dajjal (the “Octopus”) with WMD will trigger the Mahdi (identified by Twelver Shias with the Hidden Imam) to reappear in Mecca and thus commence the escatological process. Second, the assumption is that if the Mahdi fails to reappear at that point then Iran assumes that at least America will be deterred from attacking the Iranian nuclear weapons program a second time. Third, the assumption is that Israel will be destroyed in the conventional and chemical weapons assault by the Iranian axis on Israel. Fourth, the assumption is that a genocidal biological weapons assault against major American cities will force the American superpower to withdraw from the world.

What then is Iran’s Plan A? Iran assumes that it will be able to conquer the region and force the world into submission by means of the use of weapons of mass destruction. When Iranian officials say that Israel’s destruction is “inevitable” they are dead serious. The eschatological region of course has primacy in Plan A no less than in Plan B. Iran assumes that it will be able to attack anyone with weapons of mass destruction with plausible deniability and full impunity, including with nuclear weapons, by means of arming terrorists with WMD. Iran does not believe in MAD because it assumes that Western powers are in practice unwilling to use their nuclear weapons under almost any circumstances. Khomeinists are Muslim Anti-Semites and thus believe in Muslim racializing Anti-Semitism according to which Jews are “scheming cowards”. It is clear that Iran is tactically deterred by Israel but certainly not strategically so.

Khomeinism is several things, it is a form of neo-imperialism, a form of totalitarianism, a form of Islamism (i.e. Muslim neo-medievalism), a form of martyrdom-seeking Jihadism, a form of Anti-Semitism and an apocalyptic religious cult. When it comes to Israel and the United States, it is clear that the regime subordinates Iranian national interests to the Khomeinist version of sharia. This is because the regime is fundamentally irrational vis-a-vis Israel and the United States and similar in this respect to other totalitarian regimes past and present. Conspiratorial Anti-Semitism is a common denominator for several forms of totalitarianism (Islamism, Nazism and post-WWII Soviet Communism).

It is important to understand the irrational underpinnings of the Khomeinist implacable hostility towards Israel and the United States and that Iran is certainly not in any way amenable to American appeasement.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization.

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