The outpouring of emotions and people onto the streets of the Muslim world and beyond after the American assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and comrades was so serendipitous that Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei called it a “day of God” during his historic sermon on the occasion of the January 17 Jumu‘ah prayers in Tehran.
“The day of God means seeing the hand of God in the events — the day when tens of millions in Iran and hundreds of thousands in Iraq and some other countries came to the streets to honor the blood of the commander of the Quds Force,” the Imam said.
Resistance and revolution are definitely in the air, not only in Iran and Iraq but everywhere the heart beats for peace and justice. The last time Muslims rallied in similar numbers was during the 2011 Arab Spring, which was ignited by the self-immolation of an impoverished Tunisian street vendor. People hit the streets to bring down US-backed dictators and the havoc their decades-long imperial rule had wrought in the Muslim East. Within months, US puppets in Tunisia, Egypt, and Lebanon were booted and regimes in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, and Jordan were under pressure.
But Empire struck back fast and furious then, and it is doing the same now, vehement in its desire to maintain hegemony over the Muslim world. It is important for committed Muslims to study the tactics used to subvert the Arab Spring so we can avoid falling in similar traps today, some of which are already underfoot.
The US and its allies “employed a number of simultaneous tactics to sabotage the Arab Spring,” according to a 2012 opinion piece in the Muslim Village. “These included: (1) instigating fake instances of the Arab Spring in countries that were/are headed by insubordinate regimes; (2) co-opting revolutionary movements; (3) crushing pro-democracy movements against “friendly” regimes; and (4) using the age-old divide and rule trick by playing the sectarian trump card of Sunnis vs. Shi‘ites, or Iranians vs. Arabs.”
American think tanks like the Brookings Institution, are already predicting (hoping?) the assassinations will be “plunging the region into a chaotic abyss.”
There are signs, however, that this time things will be different. Here are three:
1. There is a single apparent leader this time, Imam Khamenei, who has 30+ years’ of experience leading the fight against imperialism.
2. The goal of the movement is concrete and clear: remove US military presence from the region.
3. Martyr Soleimani fought down imperialism wherever it was needed, from Yemen to Palestine to Turkey, regardless of the people’s race or religion, and is a unifying figure among Sunnis, Shi‘is, and Christians as well as Arabs and non-Arabs.
In fact, even US President Donald Trump, who ordered the hit, can fall in line with Soleimani on this one. Trump just a few months ago said, “Time to bring ‘em home”!