by Abu Dharr (Guest Editorial, Crescent International Vol. 34, No. 3, Rabi' al-Awwal, 1426)
The extent of the danger that the US poses to Islamic Iran
"The tiger is a dangerous animal." This sentence is simple, self-explanatory and straightforward. Any adult - or even a child beyond a very simple stage of development - understands what this statement means and knows to steer well clear of tigers. However, insert different nouns in the same very simple sentence - "the government of the United States is a shaytani buzurg (a giant Satan)", for example - and somehow the clarity of meaning disappears, at least for many leaders in the Islamic movement and politicians and officials in the Islamic State of Iran. Many of the ministers, leaders, bureaucrats, technocrats, decision-makers and opinion-formers who have risen to positions of authority and influence in Islamic Iran, as well as the ever-eager "pro-democracy" headmen in certain parts of the global Islamic movement, are suddenly conducting their political affairs as though the US were no longer a shaytani buzurg. The clear lens through which the late Imam Khomeini (ra) viewed the state of the modern world seems to have become clouded somewhat with the passing of time since his death in 1989.
The American regime in Washington provides daily reminders of its status as shaytani buzurg in this world, in defiance of all the wishful thinking of burned-out former revolutionaries and pseudo-Islamists. It is not difficult to confirm Washington's shaytani status by its own words and deeds. First, we keep hearing a loud voice in Washington telling us that oil-rich Islamic Iran is the number-one sponsor of terrorism in the world. They also say that Iran is hell-bent on producing nuclear weapons. President Bush and his circle of advisers constantly repeat the mantra that a nuclear weapon in the hands of terrorists (they mean the Islamic movement and State) is the greatest threat possible threat to US national security. In fact, any informed observer would know that if the Ummah were to acquire nuclear technology, it would act first and foremost as a deterrent to zionist Israel. But considering that Tel Aviv and Washington are virtually indistinguishable in their objectives, we begin to understand what the neo-cons mean.
The shaytani buzurg distracts attention from its war-mongering with seemingly common-sense overtures and initiatives. These political gestures fool the naive into thinking that the US is reasonable, honest and sincere in its concerns about Iran's nuclear progress. Hence its working through the European trio of Britain, France,and Germany to neutralize Iran's nuclear project. And if that does not work, the US wants to take Iran to the UN Security Council. As an alternative to these threatening moves, the US also offers Iran the prospect and benefits of improved international relations, such as the lifting of US sanctions, if it cooperates with the US plans. Vice-president Dick Cheney has publicly suggested that the US lift sanctions against Iran.
The cat-and-mouse diplomacy between Tehran's naive negotiators on one side and the sophisticated, double-speaking European diplomats on the other is of no practical political value to the warmongers in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. These hawks are, when it comes to Iran, more like attacking dogs. For the time being they are partially satisfied with US sanctions on Iran, but their hunger is growing and once unleashed they will be as ferocious as pit-bulls or Dobermanns.
In the meantime, the US scheme is to lull the Iranian negotiators into a false sense of security. This can be done by offering them significant incentives while also marshalling an international alliance against Iran through a diplomatic campaign, centered around the UN Security Council, that may enable the US to force the Europeans, the Japanese, and even China to join in its sanctions on Iran.
The reason that the US is determined to make Iranian officials understand that their nuclear program has to shut down is the perceived threat to Israel's national security. Iran is also expected to withdraw itself from the global Islamic movement. Israel and the US cannot live with an Islamic pulse in Lebanon, Iraq or even Afghanistan, because officials in Tel Aviv and Washington think there is an Iranian hand meddling in all these regions. In other words all the US is asking Tehran to do is pull out of the global Islamic movement, and instead become a part of the West-dominated international order that the Islamic movement is determined to destroy, and the rewards will be phenomenal: relations between Tehran and Washington will be normalized. The US will then release to Iran the phenomenal billions of dollars in frozen assets that have been held hostage since the Islamic Revolution, and, in its promotion of capitalism and free market activities, will encourage new trade and investment flow. What is more, to ensure no one can still suspect Iran of being an international pariah, the mighty US will even allow a remodeled Iran to become a member of the World Trade Organization! And for those who think that Iran is still getting a bad deal the US will guarantee Iranian access to civilian nuclear power. How, as a salesman might say, about that?
That, in a nutshell, is the US's broad plan to emasculate Iran and neutralize the Islamic movement. This is a stage in history when the political moment in Iran demands the emergence either of a diplomatic Mu'awiyah or a principled 'Ali. The question of which it will be - and this is not a Sunni-Shi'a issue - is what remains for the Muslim people of the Islamic Republic, who have already made such massive sacrifices for the Revolution and the global Ummah, to decide.
At the same time as the US is pursuing this diplomatic and political front, it was leaked to the media some time ago that US and Israeli commandos have been involved in covert operations inside Iran. Although Iranian officials indignantly denied that such a thing was possible, it is not difficult to imagine it actually happening. The fact that Seymour Hersh, a reputable American journalist, comes up with these claims suggests either that they are true or that some in the US would like people to think that they are in order to put more pressure of a different kind on Iranian officials. It is by no means impossible for the neo-cons in the shaytani buzurg to have let the re-election of George W. Bush go to their heads; they may actually think that they have a mandate to enlarge their war on terrorism, this time against Iran. Bush's cheering crowds are not the American workers who have been laid off, nor the farmers who are no longer able to pay back their loans, nor the college graduate who is now more likely to find a blue-collar job than a white-collar job - the ordinary people in America suffering while Bush serves the interests of big capital; and big capital may well welcome another expensive military adventure.
The daydreaming diplomats in the Islamic state and movement should remember that sources at the Pentagon report that Bush has advised his secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, that his key foreign-policy objective in his second term is to change the governments in Damascus and in Tehran. Washington's intelligence services are now in overdrive to rationalize such a policy. In his state of the union address in January, Bush declared solidarity with those Iranians who are opposed to the ayatullahs and apparently demanding US support in their drive for freedom. It is undeniable that there is a rift between some of Iran's leaders and their people; and whose fault is that?
It is difficult to understand why the phrase shaytani buzurg, which is such an apt description of the Washington administration, has fallen out of use. It is incredible that, at a time of intense and aggressive American operations against the Islamic state and the Islamic movement, the phrase no longer features in the political language of our time. Apologies are due to the humble soul of the late Imam Khomeini for the deviation of Islamic-movement leaders and gullible Iranian officials since his passing. The only reassurance is that there remain many within the Islamic movement, and of the oppressed of the world, Muslim and potentially Muslim, who continue to understand exactly what he meant when he so succinctly characterized the United States as the shaytani buzurg of our time.
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.