The concept “Shiite Crescent” refers to the potential emergence of a political alliance created by Iran, which geographically stretches from Iran to Lebanon, and is composed of countries within which the Shiites play a political role.
Iran is currently striving to expand its political influence and become a regional hegemon. In order to promote this goal, Iran is seeking to establish a political alliance that stretches from Iran to Lebanon, and is comprised of countries within which Shiism can serve as a platform for cooperation.
However, Iran’s ambitions today are different from its ideological aspirations following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, mainly due to the fact that the religious-ideological factor today is secondary to the exertion of economic, cultural, and political influence.
The collapse of Saddam Hussein’s Sunni regime in Iraq (4/03) and the establishment of a subsequent Shiite-dominated government (12/05) have been perceived as the removal of the political buffer that has prevented Shiite expansion in the region.
Iran is using several means to promote the emergence of a Shiite Crescent. These tools include the use of the Resistance Network in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, as well as economic and moral encouragement to Shiite communities throughout the Middle East and to its allies. For example, since 2003, Iran has sought to expand its influence by increasingly promoting Hizbullah in Lebanon and by sponsoring Shiite groups in Iraq.