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Iran: How Decades Of Middle East Power Plays Backfired

Whenever Iran's revolutionary regime feels the heat, it stirs more trouble in the Middle East. It has even brought the exasperated Arabs closer to Israel.

Man holding a poster of Iran Supreme Leader Khamenei & Hezbollah Sec. Gen. Nasrallah during a June 2007 protests in Tehran
Man holding a poster of Iran Supreme Leader Khamenei & Hezbollah Sec. Gen. Nasrallah during a June 2007 protests in Tehran
Elahe Boghrat


In past years, whenever the Islamic Republic of Iran found itself pressured in any way at home or abroad, or whenever the prospect of peace between Israel and the Palestinians and other Arab states took a serious turn, it would almost inevitably respond with sabotage or terrorism.

Sure enough, the country has been under pressure since October 2019 when protests erupted in Iraq and then Lebanon against sectarian government and Iranian meddling in those countries. Inside Iran, two years after the protests of late 2017, people and especially youth came out again to face gunshots and arrest at the regime's hands. In spite of the repression, the self-styled theocracy feels more constrained by the day.

Be sure to expect some shenanigans from Tehran.

It all shows the threadbare nature of the "strategic depth" it claims for itself. Its ambitions to engulf the region and breathe down Israel's neck through a chain of client states like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, or extend its tentacles toward the Western Hemisphere through Venezuela and other leftist states, have withered somewhat.

The Islamic Republic, which claimed to be the crux of a regional "resistance" to the Western powers, has instead become the focus of popular resistance in several countries to the respective governments it is manipulating. Thanks to Iran and with renewed fury, people in the region are demanding efficient, representative and peaceful governments that meet the needs of the contemporary world and build a better future.

Street scene in Tehran — Photo: Jochen Eckel/DPA/ZUMA

There might have been a time when people believed dishing out power in portions to religious and ethnic clans (Shia, Sunnis, Kurds or Druze) or forming "Islamic republics' might bring a measure of peace and security to the region. But events have shown that division of power on that basis and the presence of unstable governments constitute an explosive source of conflict and discord of which regional states had already had their fill since 1918.

To bring the Arabs and Israel closer together!

Iran itself moved on from clerical rule with a constitutional revolution in 1904. But the secular monarchy of the Pahlavis, fear of communism and Western states' genuine, if ephemeral, support for the 1979 revolution, plunged the country back into obscurantism. Just 10 years after the revolution, the Soviet Union collapsed and Iran had become the regional mischief-maker.

And while it has in the past 40 years proved to be one of the chief obstacles to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, it has revealed another, astounding capacity: to bring the Arabs and Israel closer together! With news from last week, be sure to expect some shenanigans from Tehran reacting to the United Arab Emirates' plans to normalize ties with Israel. That is, if it can find more resources for its regional projects or anyone willing to do its bidding.

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Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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