In Middle Eastern geopolitics, one frequently used term is the “Axis of Resistance.” The term is a loaded phrase, describing a complex combination of ideologies and objectives. Nonetheless, it is extremely important to understand.
The so-called “Axis of Resistance” refers to a political and military alliance between various states and transnational terrorist networks throughout the Middle East and beyond. It is distinguished by its anti-Western, anti-Israeli and anti-Saudi ideology.
Primarily involving Iran’s regime, the Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and various other non-state groups in the region, the origins of the “Axis of Resistance” can be traced to the 1979 Iranian revolt. Initially led by both Islamists and leftists, the Islamists quickly disposed of the leftists and founded the Islamic Republic, driven by the destructive ideology of Khomeinism.
Viewing itself as the flagbearer of Islam, the Iranian regime aspired to export its revolutionary ideology and support like-minded Islamic terrorist movements across the globe. Over time, this vision coalesced into a cohesive “resistance front” against what the terrorists—state and non-state—perceived as Western hegemony in the region.
The U.S. military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks marked a crucial turning point. Ostensibly aimed at countering terrorism, these interventions generated anti-American sentiment and nurtured the growth of various extremist terrorist groups, including ISIS. The Iranian regime seized the opportunity this presented, falsely portraying itself as a savior and counterforce against these radical entities and terrorist groups, thus consolidating its influence across the region. It was the time for the rise of Islamic terrorism.
In many ways, it was during the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah that solidified Shi’ite Iran’s “resistance front.” It demonstrated the Axis of Resistance’s ability to disrupt the status quo and create chaos. Hezbollah, a key player in this alliance, emerged as a formidable force, fundamentally altering the regional balance of power and shifting its dynamics.
The upheavals associated with the Arab Spring that began in 2011 presented another opportunity for Iran, which had now firmly adopted terrorism as its primary means of extending its influence. The wave of uprisings threatened various regimes around the region, prompting Iran to intervene by supporting various terror groups under the pretext of countering ISIS. This only fueled the growth of the Axis of Resistance.
Today, the Axis of Resistance or the Islamic terrorist club constitutes a direct threat to the delicate regional balance of power, stability and security. If it is not overcome, we can expect nothing but more chaos, terrorism and war.
Regional cooperation is central to countering this Islamic terrorist Axis. Middle Eastern countries should come together to demand regime change in Tehran and address underlying grievances. This is why, for example, in 2008 King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia strongly urged the United States to take decisive military action against Iran’s nuclear program, likening it to “cutting off the head of the snake.” Unfortunately, the U.S. did not do so. It should now reconsider this decision.
It is clear that if the terrorist-loving mullah’s regime in Iran continues its monstrous behavior, the security framework of the Middle East will unravel, potentially leading to a regional nuclear arms race. The world finds itself on the brink of a perilous quagmire that could engulf it at any moment.