In February 2019 the Islamic Republic in Iran marks its 40th Anniversary. Here we take a look at many of the key achievements and global activities of the Islamic Republic since 1979.
Exporting the Revolution
One of the first acts by Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolutionaries in 1979 was to seek to inspire Islamic revolutions in numerous other states, including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and numerous other locations. The “Office of the Liberation Movements” was set up in Tehran to fund and support revolutionary and terrorist groups across the region. Later on the Quds Force, which is part of the Revolutionary Guard, became the principle entity responsible for overseas sedition and revolutionary activities.
Both Saddam Hussein and Ayatollah Khomeini shared responsibility for dragging their countries into a futile war which continued for much of the 1980s and killed around a million people. However, Khomeini provoked Saddam by mobilizing Iraqi Shia activists to try and replicate the Islamic revolution on their own soil. Tehran-based radio channels were used to broadcast revolutionary messages, with Khomeini himself calling for Saddam to be toppled. Shia protestors were ruthlessly crushed, although many fled to Iran where they were mobilized into paramilitary organizations to target their own nation. Forces like the Badr Brigades, which were established at that time continue to wreak mayhem in Iraq today.
Bahrain coup attempt & terrorist atrocities in Kuwait
In December 1981 an attempt was foiled to send Arab Shia commandoes into Bahrain in support of a coup. This coup was organized by the Iran-backed Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain, which was led by Hadi al-Mudarrisi who at the time was a regular speaker on a Tehran-based Arabic channel dedicated to inspiring overseas revolutions.
In 12 December 1983 Lebanese and Iraqi terrorists under Iranian command staged a series of bombings across Kuwait City. This was one of the first examples of simultaneous terrorist bombings by Islamist groups, which would later become a standard part of the playbook of groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS, many of whose militants had received training from Hezbollah. A couple of years’ later similar entities staged an attack in an attempt to kill the Kuwaiti emir.
Mass-murder in Lebanon
Iran established Hezbollah in Lebanon in the early 1980s, which from an early stage proved to be one of Iran’s most successful franchises for spreading violence and bloodshed around the world. On 18 April 1983 a lorry laden with explosives was driven into the US Embassy compound killing 63 troops. Then came the simultaneous attacks of 23 October 1983, targeting the US Marines and French Army barracks in Beirut (components of the multinational peacekeeping forces in Lebanon), leaving 241 Americans and 58 French dead.
The attack against the US Marines was not only the deadliest terrorist attack against Americans to date; it was also the largest non-nuclear explosion on earth since the Second World War; 18,000 pounds of explosives left a crater four metres deep and nine metres wide. On 20 September 1984, the US Embassy annex was bombed, killing 24. According to CIA calculations, over nine months in 1985 Hezbollah were responsible for 24 international terrorist incidents.
American troops killed by terrorism in Saudi Arabia
From 1979 Tehran had sought to mobilize Shia extremist groups in Saudi Arabia who were responsible for bombing attacks and civil unrest. On 31 July 1987 Iranian radicals orchestrated a pro-Khomeini riot in Mecca which gave rise to a stampede, leaving 400 dead.
Iran-backed Hezbollah al-Hijaz activists were detained after placing explosives near Mecca’s Grand Mosque in 1989. In 1996 a massive truck bomb in Khobar killed 19 US servicemen and wounded 500 people. For this attack, Iran used its proxy Hezbollah al-Hijaz with explosives imported from Lebanon. Ahmad al-Mughassil, head of the group’s military operations, was indicted in 2006 by a US court for the attack.
Killing Coalition troops in Iraq
Between 2005 and 2011 Quds Force Commander Qassim Soleimani was responsible for setting up a number of extremist forces in Iraq, many of which were offshoots from Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. These groups include Asaib Ahlulhaq and the Hezbollah Brigades. These groups were provided with sophisticated munitions by the Iranians which were used to kill around 500 US troops. Related militia groups were also responsible for terrible sectarian violence in Baghdad and other parts of the country which killed tens of thousands of people.
Terrorist bombings and attacks around the world
Hezbollah has mostly been Iran’s chosen vehicle for terrorist attacks around the world, including two bombings in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s killing around 114 people. A 1994 plane attack in Panama killed 21 people; a 2012 bombing in Bulgaria killed six; along with a series of attacks in Thailand the same year. In 2018 a bombing attempt against Iranian opposition elements was foiled in Paris, and a related assassination attempt was foiled in Denmark. A few years previously, Iran had also attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
Failed Islamic Revolution in Bahrain
In the context of the 2011 protests, Iran provided arms and training to hundreds of young extremists, leading to a campaign of terrorism directed mainly against the Bahraini police, killing more than 20 policemen to date. Several of the leading protagonists of these attacks are based in Qom in Iran from where, with Revolutionary Guard support, they have sought to organize their supporters to continue to engage in terrorist actions against Bahrain.
Global arms and narcotics trade – and nuclear weapons
Iranian and Hezbollah figures became deeply complicit in the global drugs trade. Lebanese businessman Ayman Joumaa collaborated with Mexican cartels to smuggle tonnes of cocaine at a time into the US, laundering an estimated $200 million per month in criminal proceeds. The Lebanese Canadian Bank in 2011 was accused of being at the centre of an Iranian-orchestrated international operation which saw Colombian cocaine exported into Western markets. Substantial quantities of Iranian arms and ammunition are sold on the black market across Africa, with the aim of spreading conflict and instability. In 2010, large containers of Iranian heavy arms were impounded at a port in Nigeria.
Iran also spent many years trying to develop nuclear weapons with which to menace the world. Thankfully, international efforts appear to have temporarily halted known attempts to develop nuclear weapons. However, the Ayatollahs resisted efforts to shut down Iran’s nuclear programme completely and they appear determined to continue ballistic tests and other provocative activities, in order to return to a military nuclear capacity whenever possible.
Bloodshed in Yemen; rockets over Riyadh
Iran exploited mass anti-regime protests in Yemen in 2011 to arm Houthi rebels in northwest Yemen. These forces exploited the chaos to take over Sanaa and much of the west of the country. Seven years later, the violence continues with tens of thousands dead, a humanitarian catastrophe and hundreds of Iranian rockets in Houthi hands being fired into Saudi Arabia, including many which have been targeted at Riyadh and the holiest sites of Islam.
Destabilizing Syria, Iraq and Lebanon
Tens of thousands of paramilitaries loyal to Iran are active across Iraq and Syria. Al-Hashd al-Shaabi in Iraq has around 120,000 personnel. In all three states, these forces are seeking to dominate the political process in order to ensure long term Iranian hegemony.
Crushing the Iranian nation
Iran’s leaders have continually vetoed any elections candidates who could genuinely bring change to the governing system. However, Iranians have consistently sought to vote for those who they see as representing an alternative to Khomeiniism. In 2009 Iran’s leaders falsified the results of the elections to keep President Ahmedinejad in power and then brutally crushed the hundreds of thousands of protests who came out against this stolen election. In addition to this, oppositionists, dissidents and religious and ethnic minorities have continually been brutally repressed. In recent months new waves of protests have broken out, particularly in opposition to the terrorist actions of Iran’s leaders overseas.
Iran should be one of the wealthiest states in the world, with its huge oil reserves. However, instead its revolutionary leaders chose to impoverish their people while spreading war and terrorism across the wider region. The actions of Iran’s own brave people are our best prospect for not having to mark 50 years of the Islamic Republic in 2029.