An Iranian presidential adviser argued Sunday for his country’s domination of the region, saying that “all of the Middle East is Iranian.”
Speaking at a Tehran forum entitled “Iran: Nationality, History, and Heritage,” Hassan Rouhani’s special assistant for minorities Ali Younesi said that Iran and neighboring Iraq were inseparable, in response to alarm in Saudi Arabia over the Islamic Republic’s expansionism in the region.
“At the moment Iraq is not only the bastion of our civilization, it is also our identity, culture and capital and this is true now as in the past,” said Younesi, according to a translation from the Kurdish news outlet Rudaw.
“The geography of Iran and Iraq cannot be divided,” Younesi, a former intelligence minister, added.
He also said Iran must look to wield influence well beyond its borders: “Protecting our security and historical national identity would not be possible unless we look at our influence in the region.” However, he maintained Tehran “does not eye beyond its borders but a natural unification in the region is on the table right now.”
He added that the “natural unification” does not mean “that we should once again conquer the world; I mean that we have to remain vigilant and know where we stand. We have to think globally but act Iranian.”
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said last Thursday, in a joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry, that “Iran is taking over Iraq.” Kerry pledged that the US would continue to combat Iran’s terror activity in the region, even as world powers push toward a deal on its contested nuclear program.
The Iranian adviser on Sunday responded to those comments, saying, “Our historical rivals are upset and they help our enemies to spite us.” Taking aim at Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the adviser maintained that Iran’s actions were designed to “protect the Iranian people against the [Saudi] Wahhabis and [Turkish] Ottoman rule.”
Iran backs and financially supports Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Houthis in Yemen, and Syria’s Bashar Assad.