Iran since it was taken over by the Ayatollahs in 1979 has become a theocracy state where the religious figures, not political ones rule the country. Khomeini when he took over Iran in 1979, didn't proclaim himself as a leader or even a religious leader, but he went further than that. He declared himself a prophet based on his well-known idea of Vilayat-Al-Faqih ( the rule of the most sacred religious man or better translated as the rule of the jurist ).
To understand the change that Khomeini introduced to the Shiite sect, some background must be said. Shiite sect has many sub-sects but the main one is in the Twelvers . The Twelvers believe that the twelve decedents of Prophet Muhammad are the most sacred and are infallible. They also believe that the last of them ( Imam Mahdi ) has occulted and disappeared ( against his well ) but he will reappear. Shiite are praying for his reappearance. Khomeini idea is that why wait until Mahdi reappears, I will be acting for him until his reappearance. This change elevated Khomeini from the religious leader of Iran to the acting prophet for all Shiite across the world. Many political analysts believe that the motives for this change are rather political than religious and time has proven that. Shiite across the Middle East began to see Iran as the savior and the mecca. It became a duty for every Shiite regardless where he lives or to what country he belongs, to abide by whatever Khomeini says and follow him. Shiite at large began to believe that disobeying Khomeini means disobeying God.
Now the platform is set and ripe, Iran begun its second move. Hezbollah was created in Lebanon and small destabilizing cells began to form in Bahrain and Eastern Saudi Arabia. It couldn't succeed in Iraq because the then Iraqi strong President Saddam who has an army that already has a deep ideology (The Ba'ath Party). Fast-forward to today, Iran struggles to keep its influence in Syria but has failed to maintain influence in Bahrain and Yemen. Iran Stronghold is now in Iraq (Thanks To America).
Iran and ISIS are similar in the principles but vary in the approach. Both want to use religion to expand and conquer as many land as they can. ISIS resorts to direct terrorism and violence to achieve that. Iran uses proxies (who are already convinced that Iran's Supreme Leader is an acting prophet) to perform the terror they want them to do such as the horrible killing of Rafiq Hariri or the alKhobar bombing that killed 18 Americans or the 1983 Beirut massacre that killed 250 Americans and list goes on and on. The only difference is that ISIS kills some twenty or so people in front of the world, while the Ayatollahs in Iran kill hundreds using their proxies in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.
One last world. It is sad to see the Europeans who fought against the rule of the Church and many lives were lost to get rid of that and of the Inquisition, receive, in the 21st century, a reminder of the rule of the Church when they in France and Germany received Hassan Rouhani , a religious man in his turban and cassock who is ruling over the people and the land of Iran.
As long as Iran is ruled by religion and Priests, the Middle East will never regain stability, and it is a shame that the civilised world allow some 80 million Iranians who are looking for the Good life to live in the Dark Ages where religion rules.
Hamad S Alomar