Many are raising questions concerning the nature and reality of Iranian foreign policy, particularly how it is decided and its impact on the regime’s expansionist plans. Most of the analyses discussed previously focus on the practical aspects of Iranian foreign policy without any effort to examine the basis of the regime’s policies and orientations. To truly understand the principal motive of Iranian foreign policy, we need to study the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, written at the time of Ruhollah Khomeini and amended during the rule of Ali Khamenei. Several articles in the constitution focus on foreign policy and its formulation, and numerous clarifications and interpretations have been presented by Iranian politicians in this regard.
In its preamble, the constitution states: “With due attention to the Islamic content of the Iranian revolution, which has been a movement aimed at the triumph of all the mustad’afun (oppressed) over the mustakbirun (proud/arrogant), the constitution provides the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the revolution at home and abroad. In particular, in the development of international relations, the constitution will strive with other Islamic and popular movements to prepare the way for the formation of a single world community.”
In Article 2, the constitution stipulates that the Islamic Republic negates “all forms of oppression, both the infliction of and the submission to it, and of dominance, both its imposition and its acceptance.” Article 3 states that, in order to attain such objectives, the government has the duty of directing all its resources to 16 goals, including that Iranian foreign policy should be formulated “on the basis of Islamic criteria, fraternal commitment to all Muslims, and unsparing support to the mustad’afun of the world.” This article is revealing since it indicates that the Iranian government’s foreign policy is based on bypassing governments and focusing instead on non-state entities.
The most famous article in the constitution, which focuses mainly on the identity of the state and its tenets at home and abroad, is Article 12. It enshrines the regime’s sectarianism and exclusive nature.
Article 144, meanwhile, details the means of implementing the provisions of Article 12, which provides the doctrine for the Iranian military. It stipulates: “The army of the Islamic Republic of Iran must be an Islamic army, i.e., committed to Islamic ideology and the people, and must recruit into its service individuals who have faith in the objectives of the Islamic revolution and are devoted to the cause of realizing its goals.”
To directly clarify Iranian foreign policy as defined by the Iranian constitution, Article 152 says: “The foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is based upon the rejection of all forms of domination, both the exertion of it and submission to it, the preservation of the independence of the country in all respects and its territorial integrity, the defense of the rights of all Muslims, non-alignment with respect to the hegemonic superpowers, and the maintenance of mutually peaceful relations with all non-belligerent states.”
The application of this and Article 144 appears clearly in Article 154, which legitimizes meddling in the affairs of other countries. This article states: “The Islamic Republic of Iran has as its ideal human felicity throughout human society, and considers the attainment of independence, freedom, and rule of justice and truth to be the right of all people of the world. Accordingly, while scrupulously refraining from all forms of interference in the internal affairs of other nations, it supports the just struggles of the mustad’afun against the mustakbirun in every corner of the globe.”
To expound all this in more detail, Iran’s regime divides the world’s population into two main camps: The arrogant and the oppressed. The arrogant forces, according to the Iranian regime’s worldview, consist of several, mostly Western, nations, including the US, some European countries, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain. The oppressed nations, meanwhile, include Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Venezuela, Yemen, Sudan, Bolivia and Zimbabwe, amongst others. Through this classification, Iran seeks to achieve subversive aims, including exploiting religious and sectarian minorities, targeting the interests of the major powers in the “arrogant” enemy category, and destabilizing regional countries.
Iran’s regime ultimately seeks to lead the Islamic world. The revolutionary doctrine of the Islamic Republic relies on spreading destruction, subversion and permanent war to form a single global community based on the ideology of Wilayat Al-Faqih (Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist), and on providing financial and military support for all those who request it in any fight against those categorized by Iran as being among the forces of arrogance in the world. This is a deep-rooted foundational value that shapes all key policy decisions and is legitimized by the Iranian constitution.
In other words, the contents of the current Iranian constitution are based mainly on a theocratic ideology and sectarian supremacism, whether at home or abroad. In its constitution, the Iranian regime generally focuses on three main principles: The first of these is pride, which is achieved through conflict with external parties, according to the ideology that is the core and foundation of the regime’s worldview. Second is wisdom, which is attained by achieving pride through pragmatism and realpolitik. Third is benefit or reward, which is attained through achieving the supreme aims of the revolution, exporting it, proselytizing for and spreading its principles, and working to target and weaken adversaries.
In conclusion, these aggressive policies will ultimately lead this neighboring nation, with its deep-rooted history and civilization, to the abyss, as well as posing a threat to the regime in Tehran. The current crisis in Venezuela, where the world is ready to accept the opposition and endorse it speedily despite its weakness, is a precedent in international relations, offering an indirect admonition to the Iranian regime to suggest that it reconsiders many of its policies and orientations.
The only real way to begin changing these policies should be to start with the Iranian constitution, which, in its current form, incites conflict, hate and exclusion at home and abroad. Changing the constitution would affect Iran’s internal, regional and international policy and rectify its path, as well as sparing the world and the region the woes of war and bloodshed. It would also provide an opportunity for Iran’s real coexistence with the rest of the world based on international covenants and treaties, as well as based on mutual respect as neighboring states.
Opinions in this article reflect the writer’s point of view, not necessarily the view of Rasanah