One of the first regionally significant missions was to help to establish Hezbollah in Lebanon in 1982 after Israeli invasion. The Quds Force provided essential assistance for the creation Hezbollah which developed into the most powerful organization in Lebanon and a powerful ally of Iran. In recent years, the Quds Force has operated in many other countries like Syria and worked with other sub-state actors such Houthis in Yemen and Hamas in Palestine.
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His public position on these issues has had consequences for him. In recent years, he has been a victim of attacks by hardliners. Most notably, he was physically assaulted in the city of Shiraz in 2015. Although he has become the voice of moderation, when it comes to the cultural and social sphere, his views are conservative.
Besides those repercussions, taking into account that the attack took place in an overwhelmingly Shiite-majority province, IS’s success to attract and recruit the attackers, who seem to have converted to Wahhabism, is not only a sign of security breach but an indicator of how the Iranian society can become more vulnerable. Besides its efforts aimed at internal and external damage control and face-saving, the Islamic republic is facing a challenging threat: IS is infiltrating its territories, not only through the porous borders but also by winning its angry youth.
Alongside rivalries over the premiership, there lies a bigger truth: Iraq cannot choose between Iran and the US. If it does so, it will be losing more than it will gain. Taking internal reactions to Abadi’s comments into consideration, choosing one side would deepen Iraq’s political gaps, which can in turn lead to social turmoil. In addition, such a policy cannot help in the reconstruction process in Iraq, for Iran has the power to derail and destroy such an effort for Baghdad. It will also bring back heated regional rivalries to the country. Therefore, siding with Iran or the US will have ramifications on Iraq’s internal politics, regional position and international status. In all the three levels, there is no much for Iraq to win, but there is certainly a lot to lose.
President Rouhani, for instance, said that “the United States will never be able to cut Iran’s oil revenues,” and that “it has no meaning for Iranian oil not to be exported, while the region’s oil is exported.” More explicitly, he threatened to “stop [Iran’s] oil exports and see the results”, a threat praised by Qasem Soleimani in a rare public support of Rouhani by the IRGC commander. Later on, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Major General Jafari said that Iran can make the enemy understand “what using the Strait of Hormuz for all or none means.”
For the hardliners, however, Trump’s decision has played into their hands. Sticking to the deal without allowing the dividends to fall on Tehran could have kept the Rouhani administration’s reputation above water. But withdrawing has cleared the way for an all-out political and media campaign against Rouhani and other moderates. Already under huge pressure, Rouhani is tasked with defending Iran’s rights in its negotiations with the E3, based on Khamenei’s rule book outlined in his Ramadan meeting with Iranian officials. With Trump’s withdrawal, Khamenei is directing the political scene in Iran and is having Rouhani’s team do what he deems necessary, without facing any challenge.
Although some other art forms such as cinema have found a way to survive and thrive since the Islamic Revolution, Iranian literature has been more exposed to the socio-political dynamics of the country. And while the passion for classical literature and the love of poetry have not changed, modern Iranian literature is facing yet another difficult phase.