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Shiite Revival or Majority Resistance?

By: Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich


Much attention is being centered on the revival of the Shiite power; a recent theory posited by Vali Nasr, author of ‘Shiite Revival’.  This thesis has proved itself most opportune for Washington and pundits everywhere are speaking of this incredulous phenomenon.   Even the political comedian Bill Maher is speaking of the Shiite-Sunni divide. However, while religious wars are nothing new, it is precarious to revisit ancient animosities to explain the current crisis in the Middle East.  This only serves to absolve decades of exploitation by the West, the dictators who were instrumental in facilitating same, and to alleviate the incompetence and short-sightedness of the Bush Administration’s ill-conceived occupation of Iraq.  But above all, it puts a cover on the neo-cons’ end plan.


While Nasr states that the “Iranian revolution combined Shiite identity with radical anti-Westernism, as reflected in the hostage crisis of 1979, the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, and Tehran’s continued support for international terrorism” (Foreign Affairs[i]), he should be mindful that he is using an American/Israeli perspectives/concoction to drive home a theory while avoiding historical and current facts.


One of the ‘international terrorists’ Nasr refers to is Hezbollah.  The Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon is equally supported by 74% Sunni dominated Syria (Nasr).  As such, a theory that claims it is a Shiite identity that supports has an ‘anti-Western’ stance and commits ‘international terrorism’ is a contrived one.  Presumably, the others are Hamas and Islamic Jihad which are in conflict with Israel.   To state that “Tehran supports international terrorism” is a very narrow view of ‘international’, that is, minimizing the world to Israel and/or the US or positing a theory to favor a Tel-Aviv-Washington worldview.   


To argue that “Iranians also believe a Shiite-run Iraq would be a source of security; they take it as an axiom that Shiite countries do not go to war with one another”[ii]), begs the question why the only country that did not go to war with Iran during the 8-year Iran-Iraq war was the 74% Sunni dominated country, Syria, while other Shiite populated countries (Bahrain, Kuwait) were indirectly party to that war?  Molding an age-old Western theory and forcing it on the Islamic Republic, is akin to forcing Cinderella’s step-sister’s to wear the magic slippers.  While the Kantian peace theory is taught in the West and the idea that democracies do not go to war with each other (although Isarel and Hamas do – both democratically elected, as are Israel and Lebanon), arguably, the Shiite version that Nasr puts forward is not something on Ahmadinejad’s mind since he is more clever and pragmatic as a result of having lived history.


The Iraqi resistance for the most part is the Sunni faction, as is correctly stated.  What is being concealed here is that the US and Israel, under the cover of a civil war, are creating a ‘free Kudistan’ (Aljazeera& BBC [iii]).   The civil war gives the planners the opportunity to implement their goal – that is to divide up Iraq, or better stated, to eliminate it.  Oil rich Kirkuk will become part and parcel of the newly created ‘American/Israeli’ Kurdistan while the Shiite and Sunnis are engaged in sectarian conflict.  


According to Stratfor, Israel concluded that Americans would not be able to stay in Iraq and with America’s blessing, took it upon itself to train the Kurds.  It has been training Barzani's forces ([iv]) for eventual hostilities with its neighbors.   The newly created Kurdistan will be oil-rich, dependent on the US and Israel, and act as a proxy in the heart of the Middle East.   Meanwhile, The Mojahedin-e- Khalg (MEK) in Camp Ashraf provoke the Azeris in Iran with the same intention. Turkey, a long time ally of the US and Israel has not been left immune to the Kurdish uprising.  The recent bombings in Turkey by the PKK have left the Turks bitter towards the US and Israel, who understandably, hold them responsible.

Given the scenario for division in Iraq, it begs the question that who benefits the most from the civil war in Iraq – especially in light of the fact that from a cynical view point, dead Iraqis eliminate less Israeli and American enemies.  This view was once expressed by a CIA officer who was feeding false intelligence to both Iranians and Iraqis during the 8-year Iran-Iraq war.  At the same time that the U.S. was giving Tehran weapons that one CIA analyst believed could affect the military balance and passing on intelligence that the Tower Commission deemed of "potentially major significance," it was also providing Iraq with intelligence information, some misleading or incomplete. In 1986, the CIA established a direct Washington-to-Baghdad link to provide the Iraqis with faster intelligence from U.S. satellites. Simultaneously, Casey was urging Iraqi officials to carry out more attacks on Iran, especially on economic targets. Asked what the logic was of aiding both sides in a bloody war, a former official replied, "You had to have been there.[1]"(Shalom [v])

One must surely wonder who sowed the seeds of hatred with the bombing of the Askariya Shrine…


But even if one were to contemplate the apprehension caused by “Shiite revival”, it is hard to foresee the Saudi Arabian rulers fear that they may lose their power to Shiites.  Nasr correctly argues that they use the Iraq scenario as a pretext to curb freedoms.  Something that Washington openly criticizes, but covertly welcomes.  After all, this White House is left with three Arab allies it can truly rely on, Saudi Arabia. Egypt, and Jordan.  Given that the recent conflicts in the Middle East have been the direct result of a majority cadre of Saudi terrorists (9/11), the bin Laden owned Carlyle Group (who has George H. Bush, James Baker III, and John Major on their payroll) have recently announced over a billion dollars investment in the Middle East –  This is insurance for Saudis rulers that there will be no Shiite uprising.  And as long as Jordanian and Egyptian kowtow to Israel, they can continue to rule with iron fists.


Furthermore, the Institute of International Finance reports that gross domestic product in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries -- Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates  -- (all majority Sunni) has grown 75 percent over the past three years.  Dubai's government announced some $2 billion of investments in Sunni dominated Pakistan. GCC investments targeted at (communist) China and (eclectic) India are proliferating. (Moslem) Malaysia and (Moslem) Indonesia are also trendy investment spots, and investors also are pouring money into projects in (Sunni) Jordan and (Sunni) Egypt and North Africa.  


Since most countries in the Persian Gulfrentier’ states, that is, the citizenry are not charged taxes, there are is no representation.  People are bought, their silence, their obedience.  Otherwise stated – dictatorships are implemented for as long as there is money to ‘buy’ the population.   It is the marginalization of the majority and the neglect that brings about discontent, not religious discord.  However, it is the lack of freedom of expression that drives people to religious outlets, which may be Sunni or Shiite.


One must not lose sight of the fact that Iran was not about a Shiite uprising but a popular revolt against a tyrant.  The Iranian revolution, unlike any other, was for the most part, led by the intellectuals.  The theocracy developed as a result of the Shah, his SAVAK and America’s assistance in ensuring that there was no free society – the mosques were the only outsource for a free voice, enabling the clergy to get better organized at taking the reins of a post-revolutionary state.  Today, Iran derives its strength not from those in power, but from 85% of the people who are standing behind the government  against foreign aggression as a matter of national pride – Iranian pride and not in support of Islam,  Shi’ism or otherwise.


In fact, at this point in history when “Shiite Iran”, as it is being referred to, is being subjected to resolutions and being considered for sanctions, a prelude to military action, simply for defending its inalienable right for pursuing peaceful nuclear technology in order to emerge out of its periphery status, a Shiite-Sunni schism would prove most beneficial to those who would wish to see her progress halted.  Given that there is a chorus of 57 Muslim nations defending her, a religious divide based on fear would isolate Iran.  The neo-cons know that violating Iran would bring a retaliation from Muslim nations; unless the fear of the ‘Shiite Crescent is greater than  American imperialism.  Fear has incapacitated Americans; why not Iran’s allies. 


The fear that is felt in the West stems from those culprits who are marginalizing the majority in the Third World for their own benefits.  One must not question why Iran offers aid to war-torn Iraq when corrupt American companies are swindling this devastated nation after its illegal invasion, but rather why America is sending $6 billion a year to Israel for destroying its neighboring nations instead of truly reconstructing them.


The dispossessed majority will rise up to defend itself, whether they use a national flag or the call of an Imam.    The Sunni-Shiite divide is a deplorable ploy that was implemented by the West to create a diversionary tactic.   Regrettably, the people of Iraq have fallen prey to it, for violence begets violence.  Undoubtedly, in the Middle East voices have risen in a struggle for autonomy, self-respect and dignity, but the people live under dictatorships and their only recourse for protest is in a place of worship.  These places of worship have been turned into political tools not only be ambitious insiders, but by outsiders.  Perhaps the only time Saddam Hossein put his country before his own ruthless greed was when he asked that the Iraqis unite. 



[1] Stephen Engelberg, "Iran and Iraq Got 'Doctored Data, U.S. Officials Say," _New York Times_, 12 Jan. 1987, pp. A1, A6.

[i]  Vali Nasr When the Shiites Rise Foreign Affairs – July/August 2006 85:4 pp58-74

[ii] Vali Nasr . Ibid.

... Payvand News - 9/6/06 ... --

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