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
he should be mindful that he is using an American/Israeli
perspectives/concoction to drive home a theory while avoiding historical and
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
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."(Shalom
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
Since most countries in the
Persian Gulf ‘rentier’ 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
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.
Vali Nasr When the Shiites Rise
Foreign Affairs – July/August 2006 85:4 pp58-74
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