One of the virtues of the Islamic Revolution of a quarter of a century ago, and of its forthright and plain-spoken leadership, was its ability to go beyond generalizations and vague language. The Muslims of the world have been in a linguistic limbo for ages. Such words as “kafir,” “mushrik,” “munafiq,” “mustakbireen,” “mustad’afeen,” etc.
One of the virtues of the Islamic Revolution of a quarter of a century ago, and of its forthright and plain-spoken leadership, was its ability to go beyond generalizations and vague language. The Muslims of the world have been in a linguistic limbo for ages. Such words as “kafir,” “mushrik,” “munafiq,” “mustakbireen,” “mustad’afeen,” etc., are so broad, so traditional, and so “Arabic”, that they no longer convey any precise meaning in a world that has turned secular in every sense of the word. The revolutionary spirit that expressed itself in Iran breathed new life into these words and into other Qur’anic terms. Suddenly the United States of America and Saudi Arabia (to give just to examples) began to be understood in terms of Qur’anic terminology and concepts.
The Islamic Uprising in Iran a quarter of a century ago is too important and too special for Muslims to simply watch it wander from its original and true course. We remember all too clearly the impact this breakthrough had on Muslims everywhere. For the first time in modern history, Muslims had risen against a corrupt government and its imperialist and zionist sponsors, and were able to take control of their own country, and begin to show the rest of us how things should be done.
Of course, the road forward was not likely to be smooth. The sponsors of the Pahlavi regime could not be expected to sit and watch a people shape their own future on the basis of their Islamic faith and commitment. Throughout the last 25 years, America and Israel have been working to bring the Islamic government in Iran to its knees, with the support of their Western allies, Iran’s pro-Western neighbours and even supporters within Iran. Iran’s borders amount to some 8,000 kilometers; American troops are now based across six thousand kilometers of this border. This grim scenario has been gradually built over 25 years, and has passed almost unnoticed by most Muslims, and even most Iranians. There has never been any cessation of hostilities between the followers of the line of Imam Khomeini (r.a.), who refuse to compromise when it comes to the independence and sovereignty of the Islamic state, and the numerous other interests wanting to shape the state on their terms.
Part of our object in this new column is to look at some of the gaps that have developed since the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a.), many of which are rooted in earlier events, and how these gaps have caused serious problems about which we can no longer remain silent. But before we walk into this sensitive area, one point needs to be made absolutely clear. This is that none of the points we make are intended to express any criticism of Imam Sayyid Ali Khamenei, the successor to Imam Khomeini (r.a.) as Rahbar of the Islamic State. Many of the points we make will be highlighting natural processes in the evolution of post-Revolutionary state and society. Others will indeed involve criticism of errors and failures in Iran, mainly on the part of those who have been responsible for aspects of Iranian government and policy at the executive level. It was inevitable that such errors and failures should emerge over a quarter of a century in an unprecedented and highly-pressured historical situation; unfortunately they have contributed greatly to what many now see as the Islamic experiment’s current stagnation.
Sometimes frank statements of truth can be bitter pills to swallow; we hope no-one will consider this column to be too bitter a pill. We say what we say only to express our honest understanding of the issues. If we are correct, we appeal earnestly to Allah to accept our humble words to our humble readers. If not, we request Allah’s forgiveness and correction from anyone able to do so; without, we hope, descending into personal issues or hidden agendas. Ameen.
The officials in Washington and Riyadh understood precisely what that meant for their position and interests throughout the Muslim world. It was hardly to be expected that they would take this serious expression of Islam, emanating from a vibrant, revolutionary Islamic State, lying down. Their response was immediate and multifaceted. They launched their war of aggression through Saddam Hussein; they imposed economic and other sanctions on Islamic Iran; and they launched a massive propaganda campaign to spread misinformation about Imam Khomeini, the Revolution, the Shi ‘is, and – to make sure they had all bases covered – the “Persians” for good measure.
While Islamic Iran, under the clear and focused leadership of Imam Khomeini and the ulama around him, was redefining the Islamic line on all issues – but particularly that of the global imperialism of the US and the oppression and exploitation of Muslims by pro-Western kings, colonels and other dictators – the Saudi-American alliance was also preparing deeper and longer-term fronts in its war against Islamic Iran and the Islamic movement inspired by the Islamic Revolution. Realizing that Saddam Hussein would not succeed in destroying the Islamic Revolution, the Saudi-American axis also launched other campaigns against the Islamic movement, including cultural and intellectual ones, and even ones presented as Islamic movements in their own right. To counter the influence of revolutionary Iran, therefore, the US and Saudi regimes turned to the promotion of alternative understandings of Islam, even of revolutionary, political and anti-Western understandings, all over the Muslim world, including in Afghanistan and Iraq, and even in Iran itself.
This does not mean that these Islamic movements consist of certified and paid American agents ; the suggestion is absurd. What it does mean is that there are ‘Islamicists’ whose understandings of the future are less threatening to the US master-plan, and whose activities can be manipulated to serve the US’s short-term interests even if their long-term objectives are unacceptable to the Americans, and their Yehudi and Saudi allies. (Whatever their other differences, the mini-munafiqeen otherwise known as the Saudis, and the larger-than-life munafiqeen otherwise known as the Israelis, agree on one thing at least: Islamic Iran has to go.)
The CIA and Mossad were not resting on their laurels in the years that followed the final defeat of the Soviet Union; rather, they immediately transferred their attention to renewed attempts to ensure the destruction of Islamic Iran. Afghanistan was a key sphere of their activities, where they worked closely with their counterparts in the Egyptian and Saudi intelligence services. Revelations about the US’s dealings with the Taliban in pursuit of their oil interests in the region have confirmed that they were as well-connected with the Taliban as they were with the Northern Alliance, and the Saudi connection was also a key factor in their dealings with the Taliban.
On Iran’s other flank, the CIA and Mossad, along with considerable input from the intelligence services of Arab regimes, were frantically establishing connections with Iraq’s political groups. As in Afghanistan, they took care to make sure that they were all over the Iraqi scene. They were just as well “plugged into” the Ba’ath party as they were “plugged into” secular and Islamic elements of the Iraqi opposition groups abroad. Karzai, Fahim and Dostum, with a sprinkling of mullahs around them in Afghanistan, Chalabi, ‘Allawi and Barzani with a sprinkling of mullahs around them in Iraq, have become trojan horses securing Iran’s neighbours for its greatest enemy. This is the real relationship between what is happening tn Afghanistan and Iraq, not the supposed links between Saddam Hussein and Usama bin Laden, much vaunted by the Bush regime and the neocon elite.
What complicates an already complicated scheme is the diffidence of Iran’s foreign-policy makers and diplomats. Their wait-and-see attitude suggests they are no longer resisting the Shaytan-e buzurg – the West, led by the US – even diplomatically, let alone in any more substantial sense. The decade-long silence of these diplomats on the issue of the ten billion dollars of Iranian assets that the US seized after the Islamic Revolution has become so deafening that many Muslims suspect that a secret deal has been cut between the two sides; and their change of tone regarding the well-established links between the US government and Saddam Hussein, and the US’s responsibility for Saddam’s war on Iran, is also worrying. These deadpan diplomats have caught a severe case of what we might call “Turkishitis.” They seem to be begging the West for acceptance and recognition, instead of recognising them as the enemies that they are. They seem to be fiddling their fingers in the tradition of Nero while historical Persia is burning. They do not even seem to have “Persian” blood in them – let alone the standards and brotherhood of Islam.
It doesn’t take a degree in philosophy – which, by the way, many Iranian mullahs are anxious and excited to obtain from Western universities – to realize that the US is acting on a perverted logic. Philosophy and political mumbo-jumbo aside, the US, despite all the sweet words it may be whispering in the ears of gullible foreign ministry officials, is still planning its military operations to enter Tehran as it entered Baghdad, and to invade Qum as it has invaded Najaf.
If there are some debilitated diplomats who have had it with the pressures of jihadi politics, who are fed up with the implications of the combination of “Islam” and “Revolution” – and it certainly looks as though these are the types calling the shots in Tehran’s foreign ministry – and that is why they have put their confidence in Ahmad Chalabi, a neo-con, and his ‘neo-Islamic’ cohorts, who arrived with him in Iraq riding on American military vehicles, they will soon learn that the US will dump Chalabi, as they dumped Saddam, when they decide that that is what the US national interest demands.
Of course it is not easy to stand for Islam. Nobody ever said it would not be difficult to represent an Islamic State in a world whose enemies range from the dogmatic Saudis to the dog-eat-dog Israelis – especially when both of these are allied with the power of the global American hegemon. The risk is that, if these dead-end diplomats want out of this assignment, they may decide to work for the establishment of a somewhat-less-than-Islamic Iran. When we examine the record of the last ten years or so, we realize there has been a chipping away effect at the Islamic roots of the Islamic State in Iran, and the results are more evident in the country’s foreign policy than anywhere else.
Without being paid for their efforts, indeed, without even realising the implications of what they are doing, the unfortunate reality is that many even in the Islamic State itself have been manoeuvred and manipulated into joining the ranks of the many Muslims, all over the world, whose efforts serve the interests not of Islam, Islamic movements or Muslims, but of the greatest enemy we face: the United States of America.