Arrays of intersecting conflicts in the Middle-East have drawn the region into a complex battle-field, with damaging effects on its social fabric. Even before the 2011 Arab uprisings, major conflicts in the region tended to intersect with local divergences, creating primary as well as secondary conflict clusters, poisoning relations between regional and international actors and complicating any attempts for sustainable solutions.
Since the 1979’s revolution, the Islamic Republic of Iran has had a crucial part in the hybrid and changing course of the conflicts in its neighbors and in the overall balance of power in the region. Their long-lasting alliances with Hezbollah, as well as a strong engagement with Assad, Shia militias and some of the Kurdish groups and the Houthis are a clear illustration of the country’s efforts to expand its influence in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
As a result of these interference as well as power and security vacuums which were created in the chaos of conflicts, synchronized with numerous foreign interventions, radical Islamist groups were supplied with the necessary support they needed to empower their position.
The emergence of these armed groups upholding an extremist ideology, which profited from local and international grievances, widened the scope of the already complex civil war in Syria, the chaos in Iraq and the uprising in Yemen.
The internationalized aspects of these intersecting conflicts were, among other factors, illustrated by the region’s major powers’ interference by supporting the supply of foreign fighters to various Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan and Yemeni groups (with jihadist and religious extremist ideologies) operated on a logistical level, subsidizing travel costs and armament and financing many of their capabilities.
According to a NATO report, the issue of private financial contributions to further any form of armed jihad is a particularly sensitive question for Iran, which is regularly accused of funding many terrorist groups.