Does France create the " Great Iran" by giving it transit routes to it and, in the long term, the South Caucasus?

22.02.23 10:00

The French president's speech at the Munich Security Conference was very interesting. In particular, touching on the possibility of overthrowing the Ayatollah regime in Iran, Macron said:


"I don't believe for a second in regime change, and when I hear that many people want regime change, I ask them: Who to? Who is next? Who is your leader? Historically, regime change in other countries has not resulted in conflict resolution and has been a total failure."


Yet another indication that the regime in Tehran has enjoyed the full support of France, which has accompanied it since the Islamic Revolution, which the same France helped to bring about. Moreover, being formally in the "western camp", Paris, through its intelligence services and proxies, seems to be doing all it can to turn the Islamic Republic of Iran into a "regional superpower". France's support can explain why Tehran has been able to extend its influence far beyond its borders and "penetrate" territories that the West had previously "cleared".


The brightest evidence of this strategy is the current situation in Iraq where the government which was initially created by American occupation administration has gradually turned into Teheran's puppets and is totally dependent on IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) units deployed in the country. If you look at the history it turns out that thanks to the USA and the West Iran has come out as the complete and unconditional winner of the Iran-Iraq war; at the hands of the West it has not only crushed Saddam Hussein's regime (with which it had been unsuccessfully fighting for 8 years in 1980-1988), but also turned Iraq, in fact, into its vassal state.


However, all this happened through seemingly unthinkable multi-way "geopolitical combinations". After the 2003 war and the US and UK occupation of Iraq, the Western coalition led by those powers essentially "drained" its gains step by step, bringing the Iranian-oriented Iraqi Shiites to power. Moreover, in that country and neighbouring Syria, with the outbreak of the Arab Spring, ISIS has suddenly and abruptly intensified. In Iraq, as in Syria, a bloody civil war broke out.


In a stand-off between ISIS on one side and the Iraqi government, supported simultaneously by the US and the IRGC, the 3 million-strong city of Mosul was nearly "wiped off the face of the earth". In the end, ISIS was defeated and the Iraqi government was able to take control of most of the country. But at a cost - allowing Iran, represented by the IRGC, to become the decisive military force on its territory. In other words, although the Iraqi government was helped not only by Iran, but also by the United States, the IRGC was the victor.


Historically, Western countries do not surrender their spheres of influence for nothing. Especially those that were won with considerable blood, as it was in Iraq. The more so to their geopolitical opponents, who swear at the USA with the last words in their propaganda. But this happened in Iraq. It is difficult to explain it otherwise than by "coordination within the West" and agreements with France. The more so because, as we know from the First World War, France was initially promised Mosul along with Syria from the "legacy" of the Ottoman Empire. But then the British took Mosul for themselves (there were very rich oil fields there, and later it became a part of the new state of Iraq). Now it turns out that Mosul, which was almost wiped out, has in a sense been "returned" to the French sphere of influence - through the Iranian IRGC.


But Iraq is not the end of Iran's "external expansion". The current regime of the Ayatollahs in Tehran has been able to accomplish what previous states on Iranian territory only dreamed of - to "break through" to the Mediterranean Sea via Syria. Today, Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria is being held together only thanks to Iran and the IRGC. Moreover, Iran's role only grows as Russia, which once saved Assad, withdraws its forces from Syria "to the Ukrainian front".


Southern Lebanon, controlled by the Shiite organisation Hezbollah (which along with the IRGC and Russian forces also helped to keep Bashar al-Assad in place), has long become an "Iranian base" in the Mediterranean as well. Before the civil war in Iraq and Syria, no one thought there would be a "land corridor" between the pro-Iranian Hezbollah and Iran. Today it is a reality.


Step by step, amid wars and conflicts, all North-South land routes in western Eurasia have come under Iran's control. "Overland" Iran and its allies on the way to the Indian Ocean is theoretically possible only through Afghanistan, which is extremely unstable and has no transit railways. Where, however, Iran has "bases" in the form of the Shiite Hazaras and Tajiks.


A hasty escape of the US from Afghanistan with its surrender of power to Taliban may in theory turn out to be a surrender of the country to Iran as well. Especially if the population becomes disillusioned with the Taliban, and if they are discouraged by their mutual enmity with ISIS.  ISIS cells were established in Afghanistan, according to some reports, by the same western intelligence services which were evacuated after the "de facto" surrender of the ISIS zone of influence in Syria and Iraq to Iran.


Iran intercepts maritime communications with the help of the IRGC as well. Iran has an outpost - the Houthis in Yemen. Thanks to IRGC assistance, the Houthis have been conducting rather successful military operations against Saudi Arabia, the traditional rival of the Ayatollahs in the Islamic world.


It is interesting to note that Iran has no direct communication with the Houthis by land, and communication by sea is also difficult. According to a number of experts, much of Iran's aid to the Houthis goes through Djibouti, a former French colony in Africa on the opposite coast of Yemen to the Gulf of Aden and the Bab el Mandeba strait, where France still has a military base. With their "bases" on both shores, Iran and France could theoretically block traffic through the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, the Red Sea and the Suez Canal at any time. Especially since Egypt, which controls the Suez Canal, is a French ally.


That is to say, the "great Iran" has already established a "barrier" on North-South land communications and is close to cutting the shortest sea route from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean.


Logically, the only strategically important route that Iran has not yet intercepted is the route through the South Caucasus as part of the New Silk Road. Here it is Iran that is most interested in "blocking communications" and stopping end-to-end transit.


Tehran's hostility to the prospect of transit through the Zangezur corridor is not surprising at all. It is no coincidence that Iran opened its consulate in Zangezur, in Kafan (in fact, it is already an IRGC base). It is Iran, along with France, that Armenian nationalists hope the most, especially in the light of Russia's sharp weakening in the region.


Such construction of "new Iranian empire" with the patronage of France is extremely dangerous for the state interests of Georgia as a country which occupies the key place on the East-West transit corridor. Especially if Tehran or Paris decides to "cut" this corridor, provoking conflicts and wars, as it was done in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. All the more that in Georgia there is a very strong "fifth column" in the face of Armenian nationalists and "Javakhk" separatists that after weakening of Russia has become obvious, are increasingly relying on Iran.



Alexandre Chkheidze

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