by Abu Dharr (Guest Editorial, Crescent International Vol. 35, No. 11, Dhu al-Hijjah, 1427)
All over the world, the confrontation between the forces of Islam and kufr is intensifying, with the forces of the Islamic movement taking on the kuffar – represented in the modern world by the zionist-US dominated West – in many very different ways. And all over the world, we are seeing the kuffar hitting back in one very dangerous way: the promotion of sectarianism and internal discord among Muslims.
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.
In Iran, for the first time in contemporary history, the leaders of the Islamic state have taken the initiative to open up the most controversial issue in imperialist-zionist circles: the so-called holocaust. Despite all the Western liberal propaganda about “freedom of speech”, this is a part of the zionist mythology that has never been put on the table and openly debated with open minds and without prejudice. The centrality of the holocaust in the zionist justification for their occupation of Palestine is such that those who want to counter them must address it. However, like anything else that Islamic Iran does to support the Palestinians, this move will no doubt be used by the zionists to spin more accusations against them, and to justify their own plans against the Islamic State. At the same time the Islamic leadership in Lebanon represented by Hizbullah, leading a coalition of other patriotic Lebanese and anti-zionist forces, are slow-roasting the American-sponsored government of the Saudi affiliate Fuad Siniora. In occupied Palestine, the refusal of the beleaguered Hamas movement to compromise has forced the Palestinian president Mahmud ‘Abbas to expose himself as the spearhead of zionist and imperialist provocations. Isma‘il Haniyyah returns from a tour of Muslim countries with tens of millions of dollars for the foodless Palestinian people, and the old guard of Fatah harass him at the border, prevent him from bringing money into Palestine, and then try to assassinate him. Desperate people do desperate things; and the politicians of the PLO are showing themselves willing to inflict any degree of suffering on the Palestinians in order to try to protect the political empire they have built in the Palestinian Authority.
Meanwhile political pressure is being felt in the cities of Washington and Tel Aviv. The US capitalist establishment, seeing its domination threatened by the fall-out of the Iraq fiasco, are telling Bush and his coterie that they must deal with Tehran andDamascus to get things sorted. Some are even talking about reaching a “grand bargain” after detailed negotiations on a broad range of issues. In other diplomatic and political quarters, the sirens are sounding the alarm about the ascendancy of Tehran in the whole Middle East. As the smoke begins to clear, it appears to some observers that the US is on the run across the Middle East: Iraq is more than a disaster; Lebanon is less than a success; Afghanistan is slipping away; and Saudi Arabia is in the twilight zone. The American imperium is dangerously close to failing; and yet, like a cornered animal, the Bush administration is as dangerous and aggressive as ever.
Knowing that direct military confrontation has got them nowhere in the Islamic world – a lesson they should have learnt years ago, from Saddam Hussein's total failure to defeat Islamic Iran in the 1980s – the Anglo-American-Israeli axis of evil is now reverting to a last-ditch strategy: exploiting the sectarian fault-lines within the Ummah in order to weaken the enemy that they face. The Sunni/Shi‘i schism is the last diplomatic bombshell in their political arsenal, and Iraq – poor suffering, burning Iraq – is where this bombshell has been detonated, to spread its poisonous fall-out across the Middle East. All talk of a democratic Iraq is finished now; now the US's closest ally in the Muslim world, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, wants to come to the rescue of its Sunni brothers in Iraq. Forget about its Sunni brothers in Palestine; their decades of struggle and suffering against zionists merit no Saudi assistance. But the Sunni Muslims of Iraq are must be encouraged and assisted to fight against the Shi'i Muslims alongside whom they have lived peaceably for years. But it is not the love of Sunni Muslims that motivates the politics and the policies of the Saudi ruling family; it is rather the instructions and guidelines that come to them from Washington – and if things continue to develop as they have been in recent years, the orders will soon be arriving in Riyadh directly from Tel Aviv, instead of taking the indirect route through Washington.
So what is the new political development in Iraq that will save the administration in Washington, or at least help it create a more favorable political climate before the presidential elections in less than two years time? The answer is as simple as it is bloody: sectarian warfare leading to the break-up of Iraq. For the US, violence that can be blamed on sectarianism has the advantage of being somebody else's fault, while the “inevitable” break-up of the country and the establishment of pro-Western rulers in at least parts of it can be presented as a success of sorts. So the Saudi government, which has placed tight restrictions on fund-raising and contributions to Islamic charities and brotherhoods around the world, is now funding Sunni groups in Iraq. For this deadly game to work, the Iranians will have to finance and support Shi‘i sectarians in Iraq. This, of course, is not something that the USand Israel can order, as they can give orders to Riyadh; however, they confidently expect, and are probably not wrong, thatTehran will play along as a matter of national interest or “Shi‘i solidarity.”
There are two words coming into vogue in this new zionist-imperialist scheme; they are Wahhabi and Safawi, used by Shi'is and Sunnis respectively to label and condemn their opponents. If things continue to slide down this dangerous sectarian slope, two stronger words will become more common; they are already being heard in places. These are nawasib and rawafid respectively. These two words were the “nigger” words for Sunnis and Shi‘is way back in the early centuries of Islam, when sectarianism reached a fanatical climax. Recently around 40 ulama’ in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia signed an edict that virtually declares open hostilities against Shi‘is. The timing could not be more crucial as it comes just weeks before the annual hajj in Makkah. We can only pray that the fanatics will not ignite their sectarian fuel in the Holy Lands at these Holy Times. However, whatever happens or does not happen during this hajj season should not prevent us from viewing the larger picture, in which officials and politicians in Egypt, Jordan, and Arabia are seeing a “Shi‘i arc” extending from Central Asia to the Mediterranean. They fear that, at the minimum, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon will become one political bloc. This governmental mindset has to take a sectarian course of action; therefore, protecting the Sunnis, according to this twisted and maligned logic, begins with fighting the Shi‘is in Iraq. The fear hiding behind this fear is the zionist fear of an Islamic bloc of people (140 million) on its northern border.
If the sectarian bomb explodes in Iraq, the fall-out could contaminate Muslims around the world. Let us not be drawn into this massive political and “religious” trap. Let us, both Sunnis and Shi‘is, confess that we all have our own types of fanatics, and let us take the lead in opposing the fanatics on our own side, instead of contributing to the polarization by pointing the finger only at fanatics on the other side. If the Islamic State in Iran cannot do that with the Shi‘i component of the Ummah, and the wider Islamic movement cannot do that with the Sunni component of the Ummah, we will almost inevitably find ourselves moving down a path of self-destruction. In recent times our relative solidarity has caused our enemies to split, divide and shatter. Now is the worst possible time to listen to sectarians, schismatics and stooges who are working to promote the zionist-imperialist agenda.