Major General Qassem Soleimani, the famed commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC), proved that his country is increasingly turning into India’s proxy after he taunted and threatened Pakistan, resulting in the Islamic Republic incredibly taking some of the same positions as its American and “Israeli” enemies (both of whom are its new Indian patron’s allies) in spite of its official “principled” opposition to every manifestation of their policies.
Digging A Deeper Hole
Iran recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, but instead of marking this momentous occasion by showcasing its sovereign gains over the past four decades, it ended up being manipulated into becoming India’ s proxy and paradoxically undermining the very independence that it’s so proud to have supposedly achieved. The author wrote about this at length in his piece earlier this week about how “Iran’s Being Tricked Into Making Balochistan The New Kurdistan”, explaining that the Islamic Republic’s “deep state” divisions are being masterfully exploited by India in order to turn Iran against Pakistan in the aftermath of a recent terrorist attack along the two Muslim countries’ shared border in the transnational region of Balochistan.
Instead of de-escalating the situation behind the scenes by walking back some of its officials’ anti-Pakistani rhetoric and actively commencing joint anti-terrorist operations like the author suggested that it do in order to make the best out of a bad situation, Major General Qassem Soleimani – the famed commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – upped the ante by taunting and threatening Pakistan, proving that Iran is indeed on the path of becoming India’s proxy and apparently has no problem with this. His words dealt enormous damage to Pakistani-Iranian relations after he called into question the professionalism of his neighbor’s armed forces and portrayed the country as being on the brink of dissolution.
Here are his abridged comments as reported by the Fars News Agency:
“We have always offered Pakistan help in the region, but I have this question from the Pakistani government: where are you heading to? You have caused unrest along borders with all your neighbors and do you have any other neighbor left that you want to stir insecurity for?
Are you, who have atomic bombs, unable to destroy a terrorist group with several hundred members in the region? How many of your own people have been killed in different terrorist operations? We do not want your condolences, how could your condolence help the people of Iran?
I tell the Pakistani people that the Saudi cash has influenced Pakistan and they want to destroy Pakistan with such measures.
I warn you not to test Iran and anyone who has tested Iran has received firm response. We are speaking to Pakistan with a friendly tone and we are telling that country not to allow their borders to become a source of insecurity for the neighboring countries; anyone who has made this plot for Pakistan is seeking to disintegrate that country, the Islamic Republic of Iran will take revenge of its martyrs from those mercenaries who have committed this crime no matter where they are in the world.”
Soleimani’s statement revealed a lot about Iran’s current outlook and deserves to be analyzed in depth.
Interpreting Iran’s Intentions
Firstly, Soleimani implied that Pakistan backstabbed Iran after he said that Tehran always offered to help it, after which he remarked that Islamabad is responsible for regional unrest. The General then taunted the Pakistani Armed Forces by rhetorically asking why their nuclear weapons can’t defeat a small armed group that’s supposedly operating within its borders, despite knowing fully well that those armaments are irrelevant when dealing with hybrid threats. That was a cheap attack against the military and meant to make it an international laughingstock. He also portrayed Pakistan as hypocritical by reminding it of how many people it lost to this same type of terrorism that he says its government is responsible for, after which he disrespectfully rejected its condolences.
Soleimani then directly addressed the Pakistani people and tried to impugn Prime Minister Khan’s integrity by making it seem as though their leader is concealing an existentially dangerous conspiracy from them that involves Saudi Arabia paying the country to become a regional exporter of terrorism, which he implied the authorities recklessly agreed to even though he arrogantly predicted that this will result in Pakistan’s “disintegration”. He then proceeded to threaten Pakistan while disingenuously assuring it that he’s “speaking with a friendly tone” by promising that his military will “take revenge of its martyrs…no matter where they are in the world”, or in other words, might pull an Indian-like “surgical strike” against its neighbor (whether claiming it did or actually trying to).
Ruining The Regional Balance
Whether Iran realizes it or not, its representatives’ statements – and especially the latest ones from General Soleimani – have reversed the recent progress in bilateral relations with Pakistan and shown the world that their country has been successfully manipulated by a foreign power’s psy-ops into turning against its neighbor. Some members of the Iranian “deep state” probably don’t mind, however, since they might cynically believe that this serves the purpose of distracting their population from their many internal problems that have been exacerbated by the US’ unilateral re-implementation of sanctions and getting them to redirect their critical focus away from Iran’s setbacks in the Mashriq and towards the new externally aggravated fault line with Pakistan instead.
Worse still, all of this is occurring in the context of pronounced Indian-Pakistani tensions after the Pulwama attack, which suggests that Iran’s rhetoric is actually part of India’s regional Hybrid War against Pakistan and further reinforcing the notion that the Islamic Republic has become New Delhi’s proxy against Islamabad. This increasingly hostile state of affairs is making it impossible for Pakistan to maintain its desired balance between Iran and Saudi Arabia and mediate between them like Islamabad previously offered to do. As a result, pro-Saudi sentiment is surging in Pakistani society while previously friendly attitudes towards Iran are rapidly disappearing, which is no one’s fault other than Tehran’s for implementing such an irresponsibly partisan policy against Pakistan.
Indian Strategic Interests
India didn’t manipulate Iran’s response to the artificial security dilemma that the joint Indo-American Hybrid War on CPEC eventually created between it and Pakistan just for the sake of “deep state” satisfaction, but to achieve tangible strategic outcomes that work out to its long-term advantage. The worsening of Pakistani-Iranian relations greatly hinders the creation of the Golden Ring of Multipolar Great Powers between those two Muslim countries, Turkey, Russia, and China, and it gives India a direct inroad into this geopolitical construction’s Central Asian core through the trans-Iranian North-South Transport Corridor’s (NSTC)’s eastern branch. Furthermore, India could take advantage of this situation to obtain basing rights for its navy in Chabahar, as well as pull Iran away from the Taliban.
By unprecedentedly becoming strategically dependent on India, however, Iran is also coming under the indirect influence of its patron’s American and “Israeli” allies too. About that, it can be said that Iran has currently come to share the same position towards Pakistan as India’s two aforementioned allies despite being their sworn enemy after all four of them accused Islamabad of hosting terrorists and being responsible for regional unrest. It’s almost surreal that the Islamic Republic celebrated the 40th anniversary of its revolution by aligning itself with what it refers to as the “Great and Little Satans”, an outcome that was brought about by India’s clandestine “facilitation” and which the Islamic Republic might wrongly believe will relieve their growing pressure upon it.
Dealing With The “Devils’” Best Friend
It’s the height of hypocrisy that Iran is now on the same side as its American and “Israeli” enemies vis-à-vis Pakistan because it’s invested so heavily since the revolution to establish the international reputation that it will always oppose the manifestation of both of their policies on principle. This “politically incorrect” observation draws into question everything that the Iranian leadership said that it stood for since 1979 and confirms that there are indeed “exceptions” to its “principled stance” of never aligning with the “Great and Little Satans”. Apparently, it’s okay to do so as a form of protest against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s (MBS) recent visit to Pakistan and as a sign of appreciation for India’s NSTC investments.
Still, Iran didn’t overreact when MBS went to India afterwards, probably because New Delhi has basically “paid off” Iran with the promise (key word) of those said megaproject investments as a form of implicit sanctions relief. This, however, ignores the fact that the US’ NSTC sanctions waiver to India and Saudi Arabia’s planned energy deals with it both work out to the Islamic Republic’s long-term detriment by making it so that New Delhi achieves historically unparalleled “good cop/bad cop” influence over its economy. Tellingly, while Iran harshly criticizes Saudi Arabia for its secret ties with “Israel”, it’s silent about Modi publicly strolling with Netanayhu barefoot on a Mediterranean beach in summer 2017, proving how “exceptional” Iran regards India as being.
Russia To The Rescue?
While it might seem like all hope is lost in Pakistani-Iranian relations after the latter danced along to America’s strategic choreography by becoming India’s proxy in exchange for the promise (key word) of de-facto sanctions relief, there’s a chance that Russia’s recent return to the region can at the very least stop the situation from reaching rock bottom. Russia is regarded as being just as “exceptional” as India is in Iran’s eyes and therefore “allowed” to enjoy high-level strategic relations with both of the Islamic Republic’s “Israeli” and Saudi foes (despite growing Russian-Iranian disagreements over Syria) because Tehran considers Moscow to be an irreplaceable “pressure valve” by virtue of its geography, impending free trade deal, and a possible $5 billion loan.
Russia is so indispensable to Iran that there’s no way that Tehran could pressure Moscow to suspend its planned $10 billion undersea pipeline between itself, Pakistan, and India until Pakistani-Iranian relations improve. Nor, for that matter, could it stop Russian businessmen from using the NSTC to facilitate their country’s trade with Pakistan, meaning that Moscow is unquestionably in a position to “balance” between both Muslim Great Powers in accordance with its envisaged 21st-century grand strategy and therefore keep the situation from spiraling out of control. In fact, Russia might even be able to exert some “moderating influence” over Iran and get it to reconsider its current hostility against Pakistan, which could eventually set the basis for it to broker a rapprochement.
Iran was surprisingly manipulated on the occasion of none other than the 40th anniversary of its revolution into abandoning its commitment to independent policies and becoming India’s proxy instead, which it did in response to New Delhi’s wildly successful psy-op after a recent terrorist attack and in exchange for the promise (key word) of de-facto sanctions relief. IRGC commander General Soleimani publicly taunted and threatened Pakistan as a sign of fealty to his country’s new patron, which ruined any chances of Islamabad mediating between Tehran and Riyadh like it previously offered to do in pursuit of regional peace and incredibly aligned the Islamic Republic with its American and “Israeli” enemies, all of which works out to India’s ultimate strategic benefit.
All isn’t lost, however, since Russia could conceivably leverage its impressive influence over Iran and hefty investments in its economy (both current and forthcoming) to ensure that Pakistani-Iranian relations stabilize and avoid reaching rock bottom, though it’ll still remain immensely difficult for Moscow to counteract New Delhi’s influence and get Tehran to improve its ties with Islamabad in the near future. As unbelievable as it may sound, “Israel’s” Haaretz almost got the regional state of affairs right when it released an article titled “Pakistan Just Became Saudi Arabia’s Client State, and Turned Its Back on Tehran”, except they mixed up the subjects and it should have been that “Iran Just Became India’s Client State, and Turned Its Back on Islamabad”.
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.