In this recent interview from an Iranian state TV news program, Iran’s defense minister Hossein Dehghani claims that Tehran’s regime is deploying troops and militias across the region as a “sacred duty”, rather than as a regional sectarian occupation.
The interviewer asks Dehghani: “Some people are questioning these [regime] policies, asking why do we need, for example, to create an ‘Axis of Resistance’ in the region, in places such as Lebanon and Gaza, to provide support and work for them in these areas and aid them publicly? As we saw from the results during the events of 2009 [when protesters rose up in swiftly and brutally crushed protests against the election results], the protesters were chanting slogans like ‘Neither Gaza nor Lebanon; my soul is sacrificed for Iran.’ They want to see what it would be like if we did not pursue this policy [supporting wars in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere] – where are we going now? What were our weaknesses and on this policy, what kind of profits has it had for us?”
Dehghani answers: “Look, this comes back to the perspective and viewpoint of people who look at the social and political phenomenon. But if we look at such matters from a national security perspective, however, then we see – for example, let’s suppose Lebanon’s security, or Iraq’s security or Syria’s security, they’re considered part of our national security, so for sure to ensure our national security we have to take action in this regard. This fact is well-known and acknowledged by everyone and this consensus view is not only held by us in the Islamic Republic. We do not compare ourselves with those aggressive and hegemonic countries, as such matters are not amongst our principles of belief and religious beliefs and our ruling belief. On the other hand, this issue exists; that is, if our Islamic Iran places Islam as the principal basis of sovereignty, therefore, defending the sanctum of Islam will be a part of our national security interests, and is, in fact, part of [Iran’s] national security issues”.
“Now, in every aspect where the enemy seeks to inflict damage, such as the cultural aspect, then we must defend; if a sacred place is about to be militarily violated then we have to defend it, so our presence in Lebanon and in Iraq and Syria was not and is not intended to be a direct presence by Iranians, but it means there are allied forces who are carrying out the activities either officially by their governments or also by direct actions by those forces themselves, and while they are wanting various types of assistance from us we are in turn supporting them spiritually ; we publicize for them and promote them, supply them in different places and we support them which is natural. After this stage when other sides took actions against those current allies, then it is natural that we support them so that they can defend themselves”.