by Tahir Mahmoud (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 44, No. 1, Jumada' al-Ula', 1436)
Having seen the total failure of its sanctions regime on Islamic Iran, Washington is now opting for a soft-power approach. It hopes to penetrate and undermine Iran through a charm offensive. Islamic Iran, beware!
Over the past month the Western corporate media has been awash with reports about Iran, trying to project two “opposite” narratives about the Islamic system in the country. At a superficial level the narratives appear to be opposed to each other but both aim to discredit and damage Muslim aspirations for an Islamic model of governance.
One narrative, typified by an article in the National Interest titled, “The Only Thing Scarier Than Iran’s Nukes” along with a similar column in the Huffington Post titled “I Used to Be a Muslim Fundamentalist. Here Is My Story,” subtly attempt to paint Islam and Iran as a force and system opposed to modernity and progress. Both these pieces, like many others published between January and February 2015, foist the orientalist vision on Muslims.
On the opposite spectrum are reports like “A Free Couch To Crash On In Iran” published in the Huffington Post, and the video report from inside Iran broadcast by the ABC television network, tilted “The Iran You Haven’t Seen.” These two reports try to project the narrative that “Iran is just like us, the West. All they want are Western products and pleasures, so let’s give these to them and they will begin to love us and do what we ask them to do.”
The first reports identified above are trying to project an Israeli/Netanyahu narrative on Islamic Iran: let us continue the economic and political pressure aimed at approaching a suitable moment when we can launch direct military aggression. The latter two reports project the current US government’s approach on Iran that aims to neutralize the Islamic system in Iran through long-term cultural and soft-power socio-political methodologies.
The first approach toward Islamic Iran has failed but it suits the well-entrenched neocon and Zionist elite because by adopting this approach they use various NATO regimes as cash-cows. Further, they know how to operate in the sanctions/political pressure environment. The approach favored by the Obama regime is new to the neocon/Zionist elite and it contradicts the immediate interests of the barely surviving Israeli entity.
The novelty of the Obama regime’s approach is in the fact that it does not see regime change as a viable option and has excluded direct US military attack on Iran, at least for the moment and from its rhetoric. It only aims to neutralize the Islamic system in Iran. This in and of itself is a major victory for the Islamic system but this can be considered procedural victory. It needs to be taken to its logical strategic conclusion, which is the reduction of US influence to a possible minimum within Iran and indeed the entire Muslim world. Reducing US pressure within Iran alone makes no strategic geopolitical or economic sense as in this case the US will simply gain time to regenerate and pursue its ultimate objective of eliminating the authentic model of Islamic governance.
The approach favored by the Obama regime toward Iran aims to create a perspective that would engulf Iran in a labyrinth of internal tensions and regional misunderstandings. On the internal front, the US would like to see the rise of two trends inside Iran. The first trend would categorically reject everything Western and the second would blindly accept everything Western. The clash between these two extremes would engulf Iran in mundane political feuds. The US aims to use these feuds to contain the export of the Islamic Revolution to other parts of the Muslim world and to create space for itself to influence internal politics inside Iran.
On the external front, by appearing to warm up to Iran, the Obama regime’s primary tactical goal is to reinforce the takfiri narrative of Islamic Iran, namely, “the kafir rafidi, followers of ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ were always on the same side with the West.” The reinforcement of this myth will hype-up sectarianism and keep Tehran busy with ISIS and Bani Saud type issues.
The Obama regime and the various US think-tanks are fully aware that the westoxicated camp in Iran stands no chance of coming to power, so its only “modest” aim is to make sure that during the “debate” about how Iran should establish its relationship with the West, an Iranian/Shi‘i version of “ISIS” emerges on the socio-political scene that would further discredit the existing Islamic model of governance in Iran.
The Obama approach will go into full swing only if he manages to counter the Zionist lobby and convince it that it is necessary to make a “nuclear” deal with Iran in order to cut US losses in the region and benefit Israel in the long-term. At the global level, the US has been knocked off its pedestal of “super” power status. It may sound peculiar but the Obama regime will most likely force the Zionists in the US to accept the “nuclear” deal that was never about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program, and always about its Islamic ideology.
The key to countering Obama’s approach toward Islamic Iran is by consistently and constantly qualifying the current Western (NATO) civilization within the educational and public relations sphere as batil. This Islamic term can be best explained using the following popular Islamic description; batil is a falsehood dressed up with the garments of truth. In fact, this is what the West is doing today, they are not rejecting Islam completely; instead they are absorbing it in a customized manner and are actively secularizing Muslims. The concept of batil is deeply rooted in the Qur’an and the Sunnah and fully explained. It has also been thoroughly dissected in the teachings of both Shi‘i and Sunni Islamic scholars. For instance, the late Imam Khomeini, Imam Khamenei, Shaheed Mutahhari and Ayatollah Musavi Lari, as well as contemporary Sunni ‘ulama and scholars like Maulana Maudoodi, Dr. Muhammad Iqbal and Dr. Kalim Siddiqui have also touched upon this aspect of the Western civilization in their works.
By qualifying the current Western civilization as batil and explaining its contemporary manifestation to the Muslim masses in a thorough and sophisticated manner will disarm the Obama approach. How? Firstly, it will be hard to label Muslims and Islam as anti-progress. As taking good features of the West corresponding to the Islamic legal framework will deprive the US and its allies from launching “civilizing” campaigns on a political, media and military fronts. For example, how can someone accuse Muslims and Iran of being anti-elections and anti-women’s rights when elections are the key feature of the Islamic system in Iran and the percentage of women accepted into universities and higher education institutions rose from 32.5% in 1976 to 59.9% in 2007 —- a rise of more than 80%. Second, it will contain the reactionary forces within the Islamic movement by making them see the Islamic elements within the current Western civilization and make their approach toward resisting imperialism smarter and positively/Islamically flexible. Third, the currently camouflaged westoxicated forces will lose steam and not be able to subtly portray the West as the peak of progress. Fourth, it will help in shaping an adequate strategic Islamic soft-power response to Western imperialism’s soft-power aggression.
The fundamental principle that will lay the groundwork for countering the new US approach toward Islamic Iran lies in adhering to the institution of Vilayat-e Faqih. This Islamic system revived by Imam Khomeini and masterfully maintained by Imam Khamenei is the sole reason why the US has been unable to undermine and topple the Islamic system in Iran. Acceptance of the presence of Islamic features within the current Western civilization can be properly done only under the guidance of an Islamic legal expert vested with socio-political and military powers.
Extraction of medicinal benefit from the snake’s poison can only be accomplished under the supervision of a qualified medical expert.