The International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah) has published ‘Iran and the Shiite Centers in Europe: Role, Dimensions and Influence.’ The 154-page book is divided into five chapters. The first chapter (The Importance and Position of Europe in the Iranian Strategy) begins with a historical overview, as Europe has represented a strategic and political equivalent on which Iran relies in its regional and international conflicts with rival powers. The geostrategic significance of the European constituency is of great importance to Iranian decision-makers as it falls within the three vital areas of the Iranian strategy. Moreover, the chapter outlines Europe’s political importance given the great weight that European countries represent in the international arena. Europe’s economic significance for Iran is also discussed as relations between Europe and Iran go back thousands of years, even though it has witnessed some fluctuations due to political developments. Likewise, the religious perspective, according to the foundations of Velayat-e Faqih theory with its Khomeinist approach, extends the mandate to include all Muslims across the world.
The second chapter (The Shiite Presence in Europe: Deployment Map and Available Opportunities for Iran) monitors the Shiite presence in Western European countries (the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Greece, and Austria). The chapter also includes a discussion on the Shiite presence in Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark, and Norway), and the Shiite presence in Eastern Europe which formed as a result of Iranians settling in the region due to border changes, and with the emergence of Eastern European countries as a crossing point for the migration of Iranians to Western Europe. This chapter also highlights the Iranian presence during the Balkan wars, and the transfer of the PMOI camp from Iraq to Albania.
The third chapter (Shiite Centers and Iranian Policies toward Shiites in Europe) reviews the basis and objectives of the founding philosophy based on ideological principles in accordance with the belief that the Jurist Leadership government should be a global government. Likewise, this chapter elucidates the institutional relationship between Iran and the Shiite centers subject to the influence and direction of Iranian security and intelligence institutions, including the IRGC and the Quds Force. The chapter also documents Iranian support for Shiite centers by relying on financial sources from annual budgets and religious and endowment entities that are controlled by the supreme leader.
The fourth chapter (Shiite Centers and the Iranian Agenda in Europe) reveals the role of these centers, their activities and their connection to the Iranian political system, and the extent to which Iran is able to achieve its agenda on the European scene through its presence in: Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Norway, Greece, Sweden, Ukraine, Austria, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Poland.
The fifth and final chapter (Politicizing the Shiite Centers: Results, Repercussions and Implications on Iran) discusses the results of Iran’s employment of Shiite centers through several elements. It also discusses European reactions from a geo-security perspective and attitudes toward the role of these Shiite centers, and their implications for Iran. In conclusion, the publication of the book at this precise time calls for greater international attention regarding Iran’s penetration in societies to serve its project. In spite of the increasing European awareness of the seriousness of this matter, providing an arena for Shiite centers in Europe may enable Iran to achieve its project and expand its influence in other arenas. From this standpoint, we find that the book abounds with detailed explanatory information, provides guidance material and fills an important scientific void for researchers and those interested in Iranian affairs, providing the reader with illuminating insights to ensure an accurate and up-to-date understanding of Iran’s role in Europe.
It’s worth noting that the book is a collective work authored by the staff of Rasanah Center for Researches and Studies, and edited by Dr. Mohammed Alsulami and Mahmoud Hamdi Abulqasem.