Former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani has revealed in his memoirs, “Khamenei told me that Qaddafi’s envoy came to visit him in Tehran and carried a proposal from Qaddafi which said that Iran should stop the war with Saddam and then proceed to attack Saudi Arabia. But we rejected this request.” This is what my colleague Adel Al-Tariafi dealt with in his article, talking about the security of the Gulf.
Rafsanjani’s stories reflect the crisis of leadership in the region in thought and deed, when they meet over a cup of tea to talk about how to destroy Kuwait’s oil tankers or open a war front with Saudi Arabia or sabotage the pilgrimage operation or bring down aircraft. These are countries managed by leaders whose ambitions are not to build schools or factories, but to sabotage others’ factories.
Whoever visited Libya, during and after the fall of Qaddafi, was shocked by the amount of backwardness in the country, even though it is very rich in oil resources.
Whoever visits Tehran sees with his own eyes how the first capital of the Middle East at the time of Shah has been transformed into ruins and became a city crowded with the poor and the destitute, who have been forced by their government to live in hunger because the government is busy trying to complete its military agenda.
Saddam and Qaddafi, Assad and Khamenei have squandered their countries’ assets and capabilities thinking that a strong state is a successful state, unaware of the fact that a successful state eventually becomes a strong one.
Because our region is currently in a transitional state it is too early to say in which direction we are heading — whether only faces will change or mindsets too. Some changes certainly seem significant and positive. The axis of evil in the Middle East, with its four feet, lost two important ones — Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, and it’s about to lose a third foot — Bashar Assad in Syria.
Despite these losses, or rather, significant gains, Iran however remains the "axis of the crisis", and the fear that Iran, which feels the wind of change surrounding it from every direction, will seek alternative alliances through which it can continue to wreak havoc in the region.
The change is not limited to our region; indeed it started way behind the rest of the world, which two decades ago has seen significantly large shifts since the fall of the Soviet Union. Bad systems collapsed such as in East Germany, the Eastern European bloc countries and stabilized the situation of most countries in Latin America. Vietnam became a magnet for American tourists and Castro’s regime in Cuba is on its last legs. Thus, in fact, the remaining dangerous and rogue regimes are only North Korea and Iran.
Mistaken are those who think that the clerical regime in Tehran has been weakened by sanctions and blockade, for it has been able to survive and continues to abuse and bully others as it has been doing for years. It is expected to try to reproduce regimes similar to that of Assad and Qaddafi, because without them it will become trapped and isolated.
Iran's Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are more dangerous and vicious than Iran’s Khomeini and Rafsanjani. They have turned Iran into a dangerous hybrid regime — A religious military!
The Revolutionary Guard has seized many state organizations and administrations and finally managed to grab the rival Intelligence Bureau after the appointment of one of its generals as the bureau’s president, who in turn took with him a number of senior leaders of the Revolutionary Guard to manage this dangerous entity.
In addition, during Ahmadinejad’s reign, the Revolutionary Guard seized the most important economic institutions such as oil and its refineries, and became dominant over decisions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is Iran's image in contrast to what is happening in parts of the Arab world.
(The writer is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. The article was published in Arab News on Sept. 28, 2012)