This month, Muslims around the world will celebrate the 27th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, at a time when the Islamic State is facing a greater direct threat than at any time since the end of the imposed war, when US military forces intervened to ensure that Saddam Hussain was not defeated and the Muslims of Iraq were not liberated by Iranian mujahideen. Having already invaded Afghanistan and Iraq on spurious grounds since coming to power in 2001, and despite its problems in both those countries, the ultra-nationalist American regime led by George W. Bush has turned its attention to Syria and Iran in recent months. Syria is being attacked for its involvement in Lebanon, despite Bashar al-Asad attempts to stay on good terms with the Americans, for example by cooperating in the US’s war against Islamic movements. (Syria is one of the countries to which the US has sent so-called terror suspects for torture and interrogation). Iran is facing the sort of demonization over its nuclear programme that Iraq faced in the 1990s, which proved in Iraq’s case to be the prologue of military invasion.
There is a strong sense that the increasing focus on Iran marks the culmination of the US’s plans for the region, and that all else that has happened in recent years has been part of the build-up to this endgame. This is not surprising. The Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussain in Iraq never posed any genuine threat to Western interests in the region. Both were built up by Western propaganda because the West needed enemies to fight that they could hope to defeat. Islamic Iran, on the other hand, has been recognised since the Islamic Revolution as a far more dangerous enemy. Others needed to be built up in order to be credible; the threat posed by Iran has constantly been downplayed over recent years, with Western analysts repeatedly declaring the Revolution to be over, that Iranians are demanding Western alliances and lifestyles, and that sectarian differences mean that Iran can have no influence in most of the rest of the Muslim world. Everything possible has been done to obscure the fact that the Muslims of Iran have overthrown a powerful pro-Western dictator and established a state based on their indigenous Islamic values. In the process, the Muslims of Iran achieved greater political freedom than is found in any other Muslim country, demonstrated that being Western was not the only way to be modern and that a Muslim country can make more social and political progress by rejecting Western hegemony than by accepting the false promises of aid and assistance that have led other Muslim countries only to dependence and weakness.
For over a decade and a half after the end of the imposed war, and the death of Imam Khomeini (ra), the West hoped that Iran could be subverted by subtle attacks and political pressure. They deceived themselves that the debates between ‘reformers’ and ‘conservatives’ on the direction of the Islamic State suggested an abandonment of the Revolutionary ideals by Iran’s youth. The election of Mahmud Ahmedinejad as president last year may have been the single factor that finally persuaded them that such hopes were baseless.
The West has clearly realised that Iran will need to be countered more directly if it is to be weakened and defeated. The current furore about Iran’s nuclear programme may well prove to be the beginning of a new phase of intensifying political attacks on it. Muslims, too, must now realise that Iran is in fact more than just another Muslim nation state. Iran is the leading edge of a global Islamic movement that it the only hope that we have for real political change and liberation from Western hegemony. Iran may well need Muslim political support in times to come, but Muslims need Islamic Iran far more. The future history of the Ummah will depend on the survival and future prosperity of the first and only Islamic state in modern times.