Since emerging as a regional power and embracing the notion of exporting the revolution adopted by the Iranian Islamic Republic led by al-Khomeini, Iran has been trying to create parallel powers in different countries. Iran has succeeded in penetrating Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and Syria on the military and political levels. Teheran backs different militias in these countries; however, Iran tries also to adopt soft power strategies such as proselytizing and promoting Shiism among traditionally non-Shiite societies.
This strategy faces significant challenges in Syria, as Iran cannot rely on the sectarian popular support of the Shiite Arabs as in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon. Nevertheless it also has some potential in Syria, where the regime has offered an opening for Iranian activity, leaving it free to engage in Shia Dawa activities and thus promote its ‘soft power’ strategy.
In Deir Ezzor, the largest city in eastern Syria, Iran tries to exploit economic hardship in order to attract local society starting with three categories: tribal dignitaries, by offering money, young men by providing recruitment in return for a monthly salary, and children by organizing entertainment tours and offering money to the children’s families in return for their embracing Shiism and learning such practices as Latmiyat – Shiite religious song
In this article, we try to compare Iran’s soft power strategy to its military approach, represented by Iranian militias and weapons in Syria and other countries…
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