Apr. 7, 2015
Iran’s Grand Strategy Is to Become a Regional Powerhouse – Michael Morell (Washington Post)
- Last month, Ali Younesi, who was head of intelligence for former Iranian President Khatami and is now a senior adviser to Iranian President Rouhani, spoke at a conference in Tehran and made clear that Iran’s ambition is to reestablish the Persian empire. Iran “was born an empire. Iran’s leaders, officials and administrators have always thought in the global” dimension.
- Younesi defined “Greater Iran” as reaching from the borders of China and including the Indian subcontinent, the north and south Caucasus and the Persian Gulf. He said Iraq is the capital of the Iranian Empire – a reference to the ancient city of Babylon which was the center of Persian life for centuries.
- “We must try to once again spread the banner of Islamic-Iranian unity and peace in the region. Iran must bear this responsibility, as it did in the past.” He also said that anything that enters Iran is improved by becoming Iranian, particularly Islam itself, adding that Islam in its Iranian-Shiite form is the pure Islam. These views are shared widely among Iranian elites.
- Younesi’s speech was an outline of Iran’s grand strategy. It puts into context Iran’s behavior in the region – largely covert operations to undermine its Arab neighbors, Israel and the U.S., the countries that stand in the way of its pursuit of hegemony.
The writer was acting and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2010 to 2013.