Iran’s Unscrupulous Role in the Arab Spring: A March Back to Authoritarianism?

  • Shams uz Zaman


Iran being amongst the most distinct states can neither be considered as a true model of democracy nor autocracy. Iranians, once citizens of the Great Persian Empire ruled by monarchs, nevertheless prefer to live under democracy. The 1979 revolution brought Iranians the hope to espouse democracy which although was partially fulfilled. The popular uprisings in Middle East, termed as Arab Spring, were no different from the Iranian revolution. Massive crowds of hopeless people protesting peacefully against the dark rule of monarchs and autocrats from Tunisia to Libya were hoping to bring a change to reclaim their rights, freedom and destiny for a better future. Iranian support for the Arab Spring, especially in Libya, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen was reflective of its own experience with the dictatorship. However, subsequently Iranian position changed dramatically once the Arab Spring reached Syria. Iranian regional ambitions of dominating the Middle East remained the primal factor in its dichotomous policy of initially supporting the cause of Arab Spring while later extending support to the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad. Iran considered Assad a key factor in exercising control over Shiite militia Hezbollah and in manipulating the political landscape of Lebanon. Iranian foreign policy regarding the Arab Spring thus doesn’t seek an inspiration from the classical Islamic principle of ‘Adal’ or justice but rather depicts of the classical realism approach. Iranian foreign policy and intervention remains decisive which successfully stalled the process of peaceful transformation through Arab Spring and paved the way for the bloody civil war in Syria. This Iranian policy remained the prominent reason in formation of the ISIS and subsequent irreversible sectarian divide in the Middle East. Therefore, Middle East is likely to become the battle ground for sectarian wars in future besides making existing state boundaries irrelevant.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shams uz Zaman
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent ResearcherIslamabadPakistan

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