Iranian leaders are making urgent calls against foreign intervention in Iraq, providing the world with the most recent dictionary definition of double standard.
This type of rhetoric can only produce a response along the lines of, “It is time to lead by example.” Any observer of Middle East politics would say that Iran has been busy for years practicing the kind of intervention that it criticizes today.
In Iraq, Tehran backs the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which has been dead set on carrying out the disastrous, sectarian policies of exclusion that helped ignite the crisis there today.
Tehran has also intervened heavily in the war in Syria, while encouraging, actively or passively, the movement of thousands of Iraqi Shiites to the conflict next door.
The Islamic Republic has taken an interventionist stance when it comes to several other parts of the Arab region – it backs its ally Hezbollah in Lebanon to the hilt, it has armed the Houthi militants in Yemen, and it has played a role in the uprising against the government in Bahrain. Iran’s political-military intervention among the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip is yet another instance of meddling outside its borders, while a country such as Sudan, for example, was used by Tehran as an arena for boosting its military stature in the region.
If Iran’s leaders are concerned about their credibility, they should stop making hypocritical calls against foreign intervention and do something about reducing sectarian tension in the region, instead of just talking about it.
Tehran is right on one point, though: Intervening in other countries has disastrous consequences.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 23, 2014, on page 7.