Andrew Korybko gave an interview to the Iranian newspaper “Farhikhtegan” in late-January 2019 that was just recently published in print during the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. Below is the exclusive English language version.
- In your view, what was the situation in the Mideast like before the Iranian Revolution?
The bipolar system of the Old Cold War defined the international order of the Mideast and the rest of the world before the Iranian Revolution, but that historic event truly presented a so-called “third way” of non-alignment by pioneering a religiously driven system of governance to compete alongside capitalism and communism. It’s true that other countries had somewhat similar systems in place at the time despite their pro-American geopolitical alignment, but those states’ models weren’t as easily “exportable” to receptive populations as Iran’s could theoretically be, nor were those countries functioning as independent poles of influence in their own right. Thus, the Iranian Revolution and the model of governance that followed literally revolutionized regional affairs by offering a third choice that forever changed the Mideast’s geopolitics.
- What regional and global forces influence the Islamic Republic of Iran?
Geopolitically speaking, Iran is under immense pressure from the US, “Israel”, and Saudi Arabia, all three of whom are allied with one another in spite of it being taboo to acknowledge Riyadh’s strategic ties with Tel Aviv. The US’ ever-intensifying unilateral sanctions regime is designed to shape the domestic situation to the point of encouraging Color Revolution unrest and ultimately regime change, though it’s uncertain whether this scenario will succeed given Iran’s decades-long experience functioning under a so-called “Resistance Economy”. Nevertheless, it’s clear that those three forces are working hand-in-hand with one another and others to roll back Iranian influence in the Mashriq, meaning that the Islamic Republic might have to rebalance its strategic focus eastward towards Pakistan, China, and Central Asia in order to relieve the growing pressure along its western flank.
- One of Iran’s main priorities is to “resist American-led global imperialism”, so what benefits does this Resistance bring for Iran and the region?
The “Resistance” provides Iran with a geopolitical vision that’s capable of bridging ethno-sectarian divides in this diverse region. The centrifugal “Yinon Plan” of dividing and ruling the Mideast is powerfully counteracted through the centripetal efforts of Iran and its partners to unite it in the face of shared threats. Functioning more as a network than a conventional political party or armed formation, the “Resistance” has always been at the forefront of what is popularly known nowadays as “Hybrid Warfare”, which isn’t anything objectively bad in spite of the concept’s modern connotation but is just a strategic observation giving credit where it’s due. After all, it was the “Resistance’s” network-centric Hybrid Warfare that unforgettably brought “Israel” to its knees during its summer 2006 aggression against Lebanon, which proved that the “Resistance” is a powerful force for shaping regional affairs.
- What’s Iran’s standing nowadays in comparison to its neighbors and rivals?
Iran has impressively withstood decades of Hybrid Warfare waged against it by its American, “Israeli”, and Saudi foes and it’s currently a regional leader with transregional connectivity potential. Its location at the junction of West, Central, and South Asia has blessed it with the possibility of connecting the EU and China via its territory along the South Eurasian Rimland. For that to happen, however, it must simultaneously enter into strategic partnerships with its Turkish and Pakistani Muslim Great Power neighbors following the model of the “Multipolar CENTO”, or the revival of the Old Cold War-era framework between the three (and Iraq) adapted to modern-day geopolitical conditions in the New Cold War. If implemented, then this vision would cement Iran’s role as a Eurasian heavyweight in this century and give the Golden Ring of Multipolar Great Powers a self-interested stake in ensuring its security.
- What do you foresee the future of the Mideast and the world to be?
The interplay between Trump’s weaponization of chaos, Russia’s Afro-Eurasian “balancing” act, and China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) will most powerfully define the coming years, with the specific impact on the Mideast most likely being the reorientation of long-standing alignments that had previously been taken for granted. As unbelievable as it may sound, both “Israel” and Saudi Arabia are gradually diversifying their erstwhile strategic dependencies on the US and moving closer to Russia and China, which could lead to the temporary stabilization of the region in the event that the Unipolar and Multipolar forces of the world (with Iran being included in the latter category) strike a pragmatic “compromise” of some sort. Of relevance to Tehran, this would probably imply freezing its so-called “sphere of influence” in the region and redirecting the bulk of its future focus eastward in order to serve as China’s South Eurasian Silk Road bridge to Europe.
- What challenges is the Resistance Movement facing right now in the region?
The “Resistance’s” traditional American, “Israeli”, and Saudi enemies are still as potent of a threat as they’ve ever been, but the latter two’s developing strategic relations with Iran’s Russian and Chinese partners poses a unique challenge because it means that Tehran is aligned with two countries that are moving closer to its enemies (even though this isn’t intended by either of them to be against any third parties such as the Islamic Republic). Furthermore, the Russian military has “passively facilitated” hundreds of “Israeli” strikes against IRGC and Hezbollah targets in Syria over the years as part of its “balancing” strategy to retain the “regional equilibrium” between Tel Aviv and Tehran after it closely partnered with the latter to fight terrorism in Syria. From the Iranian perspective, the greatest challenge at the moment is therefore to ensure a (Russian-brokered?) post-Daesh strategic presence in Syria that remains below the “threshold” of “provoking” “Israel” to relentlessly attack it there.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.