8-03-2015: Yonsei Ali, the Tehran regime’s Assistant Iranian President for Nationalities and Religious Minorities, has said that his country has become an empire with its capital in Baghdad, attacking those who oppose Tehran’s expansionism and influence in the region, and saying that Iran now rules the Middle East, in what he called an “Iranian union.”Ali a senior adviser to Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani, described in the West as a ‘moderate’, made the inflammatory statements at a forum on ‘Iranian Identity’ held in Tehran on Sunday, according to ISNA, the Iranian Students’ News Agency.Ali reportedly stated that “Iran today has become an empire as it was throughout history, with its capital in Baghdad; our civilisation and our culture and identity are central today, as in the past,” referring to the period of the Persian Sassanid Empire (224 AD to 651 AD) when Iran seized control of Iraq and other regional nations, taking Baghdad as its capital.

Speaking about the participation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces in military operations in Iraq and in effectively controlling the Iraqi army, Shiite militias and the Iraqi state, Ali said that “geographically Iraq and Iran are indivisible and our culture cannot be dismantled, so we must either fight or unite.”

Ali, who previously served as the Iranian regime’s minister of intelligence under the reformist government of President Mohammed Khatami, launched a scathing attack on those opposing Iranian regional control and influence, asserting that “all of the Middle East is Iran.” He continued, “We will defend all the peoples of the region because we consider them part of the totality of Iran, and we will stand against Islamist extremism, Takfirism and atheism, against the neo-Ottomans, the Wahhabis, the West and Zionism.”

The senior regime official also referred to Turkey’s dismay at Iranian control of the Iraqi army and government and its backing for the Shiite militias which rule many areas of Iraq, saying, “The competitors from the historical heirs of the Eastern Roman and Ottoman Empires resent our support for Iraq.”

He added that the Tehran regime intends to establish an “Iranian federation” in the region, saying, “I don’t mean that the borders should be erased, but all the nations of the Iranian plateau should remain distinct and associated, because their security and interests are linked.”

Ali concluded, “We must regain our position and historical consciousness: that is, to think globally and act as Iranians regionally and nationally.”

The senior Iranian official’s comments come two days after a speech by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal in which he stated that “Iran controls Iraq,” citing the example of Tikrit where the efforts to recapture the town from Daesh are led and organised by IRGC commander Qassem Suleiman using Iranian troops and Shiite militias.