by Zafar Bangash (Reflections, Crescent International Vol. 35, No. 1, Safar, 1427)
It would be naïve to miss the significance of the successive attacks on Islam and its sacred symbols: last year there were revelations about the desecration of the Qur'an at GuantanamoBay; then came the insulting caricatures of the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace. While the cartoon controversy still rages, we witness the deliberate destruction of the ImamAskari Mosque in Samarra, Iraq, taking the country even closer to sectarian warfare. In between, there have been revelations about the abuse of children and other detainees by the Americans in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, Bagram and a host of other unknown locations.
Are these events merely coincidental? It is very unlikely. The invasion of Iraq was planned and executed on a complete lie. The only thing not part of the script was the resistance the Americans would encounter; instead of welcoming them with flowers, the people are throwing grenades at them. Meanwhile, everything that the US and its allies have have done to weaken Iran have actually strengthened the Islamic Republic, the real target of the Iraqi invasion. Far from isolating and weakening the Islamic State, it is the US that stands discredited and despised, even by people in the countries it counts as its closest allies. This is not how it was supposed to be.
The latest outrage in Samarra needs to be analyzed carefully, for it has implications far beyond the borders of Iraq. While the destruction of the mosque and holy shrine where two great Imams are buried is serious enough, and has naturally aroused the anger of Muslims worldwide, its broader implications are far more sinister. The bombing is meant not only to exacerbate sectarian conflict in Iraq, but also to create a divide between Sunnis and Shias around the world, leading, they hope, to the isolation of Iran from the rest of the Muslim world. The election of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and the principled stand the Islamic Republic has taken on a number of issues have earned it the respect and admiration of Muslims worldwide; there is widespread acknowledgment among Muslims that Iran is speaking on their behalf, as an Islamic state should. Every move the US and its allies have made to isolate and damage Islamic Iran has backfired, and Iran has become stronger.
The US-Europe-zionist trio realize this. They believe that the only way to undermine Iran is to try to isolate it from the rest of the Muslim world, as the US tried to do immediately after the victory of the Islamic Revolution 27 years ago, with some success. The Iraqi invasion of Iran was portrayed as an attempt by Sunnis to counter the rise of Shias, and the Saudis and otherUS agents financed anti-Shi'i sectarianism all over the Muslim world. Today, however, Iraq lies in ruins as a result of American aggression, while the US is trapped in a quagmire of its own making. If it prolongs its stay, it will suffer more deaths and incur even greater financial losses; if it tries to cut and run, there will be humiliation in store for it. Today, attempts to play the sectarian card against Iran should face greater resistance because of more awareness among Muslims about the nature of both the US and Islamic Iran, but the sectarian impulse is so great among some Muslims that it remains dangerous nonetheless.
The Iraqi experience does not mean that the US and its zionist allies will see reason and begin to behave responsibly. The American establishment and its zionist allies have a vast arsenal of weapons at their disposal to create discord and undermine other societies. One of the most serious threats the Muslims must beware of is the zionist plan to destroy the Masjid al-Aqsa to pave the way for the building of a zionist temple. This has been a long-time dream of the zionists, and if they see Muslims distracted and weakened by internecine conflict they may well consider it a good opportunity to pursue their nefarious designs. If they succeed in this, it will help the Muslims little to hold rallies and condemn it. While Palestine today is not what it was in 1967 or 1969 one should not underestimate the zionists and their American allies. They are capable of doing far worse than most ordinary people can imagine.
While Muslims vent their anger about the cartoons and the destruction of the Imam Askari Mosque, it is important that we are aware of wider issues such as the threat to the Masjid al-Aqsa. It is precisely at such times that the enemies of Islam and of humanity will exploit the situation. Do Muslims have a contingency plan if the zionists attempt something like this? What plans are in place to prevent the destruction of Islam's third holiest site? After all, in August 1969 a zionist set fire to it and would have destroyed it but for the timely response of the Muslims in Palestine. Are Muslims ready to prevent another onslaught or, Allah forbid, is Masjid al-Aqsa destined to go down the route of the Barbri Mosque in India?
The threat to the Masjid al-Aqsa is precisely the sort of danger that Muslims must anticipate and work to avert, rather than reacting to the crimes and plots after they have been perpetrated.