TEL AVIV – If the Islamic State is destroyed, the situation in the Middle East could end up being even more dire with the emergence of an “Iranian radical empire” in its wake, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger warned in an article published by CapX this week.
Kissinger cautioned that in the case of IS and Iran, the old aphorism “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” no longer holds water, since driving out the Sunni terror group would leave a “territorial belt reaching from Tehran to Beirut” that Iranian-trained Shia forces could occupy.
Across large areas of Iraq and Syria, an ideologically radical religious army, Isis, has declared itself a relentless foe of modern civilisation, seeking violently to replace the international system’s multiplicity of states with a single Islamic empire governed by Sharia law. In these circumstances, the traditional adage that the enemy of your enemy can be regarded as your friend no longer applies. In the contemporary Middle East, the enemy of your enemy may also be your enemy. The Middle East affects the world by the volatility of its ideologies as much as by its specific actions.
The outside world’s war with Isis can serve as an illustration. Most non-Isis powers — including Shia Iran and the leading Sunni states — agree on the need to destroy it. But which entity is supposed to inherit its territory? A coalition of Sunnis? Or a sphere of influence dominated by Iran? The answer is elusive because Russia and the Nato countries support opposing factions. If the Isis territory is occupied by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards or Shia forces trained and directed by it, the result could be a territorial belt reaching from Tehran to Beirut, which could mark the emergence of an Iranian radical empire.
The 94-year-old former secretary of state has in the past warned that the Middle East will “explode” if the “domination of the region by an Iran that is both imperial and jihadist” is allowed to continue.