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Postelection Iran And Its Clients


Portraits of Hezbollah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah (left) and Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad at an annual Koran exhibition in Tehran in 2007.

Portraits of Hezbollah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah (left) and Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad at an annual Koran exhibition in Tehran in 2007.

A couple of worthwhile efforts to examine the possible effect on Tehran-backed militants (think Hamas and Hizballah) of the current troubles in Iran.

Bloomberg puts it simply:

The power struggle in Iran sparked by the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is weakening the country's ability to back Islamist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as Iraqi militants.

The Christian Science Monitor identifies the crux of the problem as perceived hypocrisy between the Iranian establishment's actions at home -- where it is brutally suppressing critics of the recent presidential election -- and the actions of Tehran's clients abroad:

"Hezbollah is now in the awkward position of being a resistance group purportedly fighting injustice, while simultaneously cashing checks from an Iranian patron that is brutally suppressing justice at home," says Mr. [Karim] Sadjadpour [an Iran specialist at] the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Quotes from analysts in the Bloomberg piece suggest there's not unanimity over whether any decline in Revolutionary Guards support is likely to be temporary ("at this stage" says Jeremy Binnie of Jane's Defense Weekly) or sustained "could change the map of the region" says Radwan Ziadeh of Harvard's Carr Center of Human Rights).

And it's important to note that both pieces are wholly speculative -- neither offers evidence of specific cutbacks in Iranian commitments to Hamas or Hizballah.

But policymakers everywhere will be watching carefully for signs of a falloff in Iranian meddling in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and Iraq.

-- Andy Heil
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