Arabic is native tongue of Shi'a Mullahs in Bahrain but most are also fluent in Farsi because they have attended seminaries in Qom, Iran. Centuries ago, most Shi'a in Bahrain were Ismaili* Shi'a Muslims. Today, the overwhelming majority of Shi'a in the archipelago country are of the Akhbari School* aka Twelvers like most Iranian Shi'a. Therefore, despite the ethnic divide Arab and Persian, there exists a close spiritual affinity between the Shi'a of Iran and Bahrain. Moreover, the principal underground resistance group the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain (IFLB) follows the theological orientation of the Islamic Republic. The IFLB has embraced the velayat-e-faqih*principle which is the religious concept that recognizes Iran's Supreme Leader (rahbar) as infallible.

The West does not seem to appreciate the intensity of Iran's mission to protect the rights of Shi'a throughout the world. We Shi'a have long endured the hatred and persecution of our Sunni cousins. The frequency and intensity of this oppression increased when the ideologues of Wahabbism allied with Arabia's al-Saud clan in the mid-18th century. When oil was discovered on the Arabian Peninsula in the 20th century, Riyadh's power expanded exponentially from the petro profits. It's suppression of Shi'a rights expanded as well. From Bahrain to Pakistan, Shi'a are killed virtually every day by Riyadh-inspired vituperative lies about Shi'a.

Christendom may no longer believe that it has a responsibility to protect Christians in the Middle East from Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi sect intolerance. Consequently, Christian communities in the region for millennia are disappearing rapidly. But this is not the case with the Islamic Republic. Iran's forward policies in Persian Gulf countries that have a substantial Shi'a population should not be dismissed as traditional nation-state aggressive expansionism. Iranians of all political persuasions possess a profound sense of spiritual simpatico with their fellow Shi'a abroad. This sentiment is transcends the normative rules of international relations. It can be described as loyalty to the Shi'a Umma as expostulated by the largest Shi'ite organization in North America, the Universal Muslim Association of America which draws attendees from all over the globe at its annual conventions.

Much Western reporting that addresses Iran's supposed commitment to the Assad regime in Damascus is superficial journalism indeed. Iranian Shi'a are not Assadists but the Assadists are Shi'a. Iran's Shi'ite Ayatollahs have declared that Syria's Alawites are genuine Shi'ites. Therefore, the Shi'a clerics in Iran feel obligated to defend the interests of the Alawi Shi'a community. Though there is much to criticize Assad for, who would doubt that the probable alternative is worse.

Another dimension of Iran's support for regional Shi'ism which upsets the West, is Iran's growing operational relationship with Russia. The Shi'a are not naive about Moscow's real intentions but why should Iran make Russia an enemy? This is especially true when Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other Gulf States have turned a blind eye to the substantial support flowing from their countries to Sunni extremists like al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, and Daesh.

In light of the recent execution of our Shi'ite Sheik Nimr al-Nimr by the barbarous Saudi regime, one would hope that the West would see the similarity between the atrocities of America's al-Saud ally and Daesh. Perhaps, it is not so cut and dry that the interests of Iran and the West are at opposing poles, on every issue.

Iran's commitment to Shi'a interests seems firmly linked to its idea of its mission, as well as to the survival of its revolutionary regime. Iran's theocracy is likely willing to pay a high price to safeguard this legacy. The West should not expect Iran to reduce its presence in Syria or Iraq, even under severe military pressure.

If President Hasan Rouhani believes that sanctions relief will lead to an improvement in Iran's economy and his easy re-election to a second term as President, he may have been seduced by his own political rhetoric.

In order to understand the Islamic Republic's link with the Huthi (Houthi) of Yemen, one must be open to appreciate the significance of the religious dimension of that relationship. Ties between the Houthi and the Shi'a seminaries in Qom quickened more than a decade ago. Many young Houthi Shi'a joined the "Association of Believing Youth,"* some of whom attended summer camps where instructors helped shape their political and religious values. Often, these mullah teachers were Iranian and most of the texts were tracts from Lebanon-based religious figures like the late Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. When these students matured, they altered the daily focus of Zaydi Shi'ism * ("The Fivers") in Yemen. Heretofore the Zaydi were more concerned with issues of a local interest.

We are in a Pearl Harbor moment with Iran. I think the Iranians may already possess a nuclear bomb. At least one report appears to suggest that they do, as they are constantly towing something around in Iran's northern desert.