December 7, 2006
Islamic Wars MMVI: Return of the ShiitesBy Marc Sheppard
A long time ago in a land far away the Prophet Muhammad, who had united the Arabian tribes under the banner of Islam, died. The ensuing battles over naming his rightful successor sparked a schism in the Muslim community which endures to this day.Two years ago, Jordan's King Abdullah II accused Iran of planning to hijack the then-upcoming Iraqi elections. He spoke of a sinister scheme to employ tactics of intimidation, vote rigging, bribery and militia training, in an effort to install a pro-Iranian government. Such an alliance, the King warned, would help further Iran's quest toward empowering a "crescent" of dominant Shiite movements and governments -- stretching from Iran to Lebanon. The Sunni monarch's words infuriated many Shiites, particularly those at the helm in Tehran, who rejected the accusations outright.
Today, rapidly deteriorating events are bearing out Abdullah's sullen analysis of Iran's objectives. In fact, on November 26th the King launched his "I told you so" road tour on ABC's This Week, on which he predicted these 3 civil wars to fortify his earlier prophecy: Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.
Unfortunately, the hierarch stopped short of placing the recipe book for these stewing cauldrons squarely where it belongs - in the hands of Iran. He should have shown a bit more chutzpah and kept his foot firmly on the gas pedal. After all, His Majesty is all too aware that Iran is no stranger to meddling in the affairs of the region he has quite accurately characterized as its political playground.
A New Hopelessness
One of the primary causes of the 8 year Iran-Iraq war was the fear of Iran exporting its Shiite Islamic Revolution to the secular Iraq. Indeed, history recounts many longstanding regional rivalries between Persian Iran and Arab Iraq. And yes, tensions were clearly aggravated by the 1975 Algiers Accords which redefined the border of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, vital to both countries' oil exports, along its mid-channel line. Yet, it was the 1979 overthrow of the Shah by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini loyalists, and the fanatical new regime's subsequent attempts to foment Shia rule of its neighbor to the west through civil war which sparked first blood in the summer of 1980.
Of course, the bloody and costly corrivalry concluded with virtually no distinguishable advantage, either territorial or philosophical, being garnered by either side. In spite of the loss of over a million in lives and a trillion dollars in assets, the Shia majority in Iraq remained a repressed political minority under Hussein's Sunni-dominated Baathist regime.
The Hezbollah Menace
Surprisingly, defending their land against the onslaught of Saddam's armies failed to deter Iran's injection into a Civil War being waged concurrently in Lebanon. That conflict, which began in 1975 as a power struggle between Christians and multiple Muslim factions, eventually became a proxy war for the disparate interests of Syria, Israel, the PLO and the United States. Yet, it was an Iranian initiative to provide funds, weapons and training to the Shia minority during that time which gave birth to Lebanon's most powerful and deadly militia - Hezbollah.
Iran's bastard child quickly matured into the force behind countless attacks upon the American presence in Lebanon. The most notable and cowardly was the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing which sent 241 American servicemen home with flags draped over their coffins. Hezbollah likely grinned through its scarcely cut teeth as it observed the complete retreat of the remaining U.S forces shortly thereafter.
Israel's pullback was less consummate, establishing a security zone extending 18 miles beyond its own northern border. When the war finally ended in 1990, Hezbollah refused to disarm, citing the danger and outrage of the Jewish State's presence in southern Lebanon. Accordingly, Iranian arms continued to funnel to the expanding militia through Syria for deployment against the IDF forces protecting their zone.
By decade's end, range-evolving Iranian-supplied missiles allowed Hezbollah to traverse the security region and deliver mayhem into northern Israel. This compelled the newly elected Ehud Barak to return the failing buffer zone to the Israeli-friendly South Lebanon Army, which was summarily crushed and disbanded by Hezbollah. Iran's terror proxy, the "Party of God," soon recommenced its attacks -- now breaching Israeli borders.
The Republic Strikes Back
In June of 2005, Iranian voters moved hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into the presidential palace. Right from the start the theocrat made 2 things perfectly clear:
Then, in July of this year a plot was hatched to escalate the ongoing border skirmishes into an all-out war by kidnapping Israeli Soldiers. Ahmadinejad's messenger boy, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, thus held the world's attention all summer long by orchestrating the destruction of much of Lebanon before a useful and eager western media. By turning mankind's opinion even further against Israel and its eyes away from Iran's ongoing fission programs, Nasrallah forwarded both of his master's prime directives within the framework of a single enterprise.
Thus the world bore witness to a malignant conjunction which solidified Iran's footprint at Israel's doorstep. In August, a U.N brokered cease-fire ended the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war and Israel, once again, returned its troops south of its northern border. To the surprise of no one, 2 months later the Washington Times reported Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz's contention that:
Iran and Syria [were] rapidly rearming Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon as an international peacekeeping force has failed to carry out a U.N. mandate to disarm the Shi'ite militia groupRevenge of the Mahdi
For years, the MSM have shamelessly promoted the notion that sectarian bloodshed in Iraq is a direct consequence of our military presence there. True to form, these pillars of virtue are being both conspicuously disingenuous and unforgivably naive. In reality, the ongoing battles between the Shia militia and Sunni insurgents are driven by nothing short of the human condition itself. Centuries of religious squabbles and the resentments of a majority freed from the despotic rule of a minority have sired the consummate cannon fodder for the hegemonic Persians. And no one in Iraq exemplifies this better than Moqtada Al Sadr, the leader of its largest Shia militia -- the "Mahdi Army."
The 32-year-old Shiite Islamic cleric commands a large and dedicated following of mostly lower class (and, thereby, highly impressionable) Iraqi Shiite Muslims. Considered by many to be the de-facto co-ruler of the country, his anti-American feelings and presumed eye for the followers of ailing moderate Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani make him the perfect Persian puppet.
Multiple sources have reported that Hezbollah has been training al Sadr's forces in Lebanon. Furthermore, in October of 2005, Tony Blair made many public statements accusing Iran, through "its terror proxy Hezbollah," of supplying explosive devices and triggers to Sadr's Mahdi Army to make IEDs.
Almost a year later, American Forces Press Service confirmed the British PM's suspicions:
The Iranian government is behind shipping components used to make improvised explosive devices to Iraqi insurgents, a senior intelligence official in Iraq said yesterday. Labels on weapons stocks seized inside and outside Iraq point to Iranian government complicity in arming Shiite militias in Iraq, Army Maj. Gen. Richard Zahner, the deputy chief of staff for intelligence with Multinational Force Iraq, said at a news roundtable.Bottom line -- Iran arms and controls Hezbollah, which, in turn, arms and controls al Sadr's powerful militia which in turn controls the majority of the hostility in Iraq.
Attacks on the Thrones
And, true to the predictions of the Jordanian King, Iraq is not the only country experiencing nascent Iranian interference déjà vu.
Recently, the Middle East Media Research Institute declared that Lebanon is "on the Brink of Civil War." The November 29th article quoted Hezbollah Executive Council Chairman Hashem Safi Al-Din warning of possible fitna (civil war):
"Lebanon does not have a legitimate and legal government, but only a group that claims to be a government, a group that is usurping the government... As far as we are concerned, any government or element in the world which regards [the Al-Siniora] government or its decisions as legal is part of the internal [Lebanese] dispute. These elements [should not become involved] in the dispute, since they would thereby become involved in the conflict."Of course, in the interest of tarnishing either Israel or the U.S, Iran is often willing to overlook factional divergence - at least, for the moment. In Gaza, leaders of the rival pro-Iranian (yet, Sunni) Hamas and U.S-backed Fatah movements appear to be stalemated in attempting to create a national unity government to end economic and political crises in the Palestinian territories. Many Mideast analysts believe that the hardening of the Hamas position which has threatened Civil War is due entirely to the external influence of Iran and its strangely credulous Sunni bedfellow, Syria.
The Phantom Crescent
Surely, Iran's accelerating attempts to sculpt the sands of the Middle East since its Islamic Revolution are indisputable. The hurried rise of hard-liner Ahmadinejad has certainly served to strengthen that resolve. In recent years, the "republic" has brazenly broadened its influence in Iraq, Lebanon, and remarkably, even Israel.
The Jordanian King's concerns are not his alone amongst Sunnis. Nor should they be. While 15% of Muslims worldwide are of Shia extraction, the faction's strength in Iran and Iraq is nearer 90 and 62 percent, respectively. In Lebanon, they represent about a third of the population but 60% of Muslims. They represent the majority in Azerbaijan and Bahrain and about half the population of Yemen. And, while Saudi Arabia is predominately Sunni, most of its significant oil reserves lie beneath areas of Shia majority.
Needless to say, the recent expansion of Shia forces in the region has caused the Saudi royal family much deserved anxiety. Accordingly, they have joined leaders of other Sunni states, including Pakistan, Syria and (likely) Jordan in tacitly aiding Sunni insurgents to prevent the emergence of a Shia dominated Iraq government. Control of Iraq is seen as pivotal in preventing the dreaded crescent, or perhaps a shape of even greater surface area.
Ironically, the MSM and other agents of the left's tired battle-cry that Iraq is "another Viet Nam," has become somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy - albeit tangentially. The war in Indochina was essentially a proxy extension of the cold war being waged between east and west. Iraq is emerging as a similar surrogate battlefield - this time for Shiite Iran and its Sunni neighbors. And, as before, misplaced PC pressures assure that American soldiers are only along for the deadly ride.
Never concerned with such delicate protocol, MSNBC's Pat Buchanan has posited that Al-Qaeda orchestrated the bombing of the Golden Mosque last February in order to widen the Sunni-Shia rift and intensify the battles between them in Iraq. They would, indeed, seem likely suspects. But suppose, instead, that the dome of one of the most important Shiite Mosques in the world was served as sacrificial lamb by the country having the most to gain by such a split - Iran.
Is Iran crafting the final battles of a war nearly 1400 years in the making? Surely they're fully aware that the Wahabi, Salafi, and Deobundi sects within Sunni states will never countenance a "crescent" much less a potential ellipse. Mightn't this further explain Ahmadinejad's fanatical nuclear aspirations? After all, Pakistan commands the Sunni bomb and Israel is steward of the "Zionist" bomb -- doesn't a Shia bomb seem the perfect accessory to a would-be ruler of the world awaiting the glorious reappearance of the Mahdi? [*]
Iran to the Dark Side
In a tirade which aired on the Iranian News Channel on August 15, 2006, the despot warned:
"If you want to have good relations with the Iranian people in the future, you should acknowledge the right and the might of the Iranian people, and you should bow and surrender to the might of the Iranian people. If you do not accept this, the Iranian people will force you to bow and surrender."These highly confrontational words were misinterpreted worldwide as a challenge specific to America and its allies. Truly, the entire planet would be wise to listen more carefully. Tehran is simultaneously fueling both the acrimony and machinery of war between Islamic States and between Islam and its fellow Earthlings. Still, they have recently received a high-level delegation from Iraq responding to an offer to "help" with the "problems" which they themselves are at the duplicitous core of.
Nonetheless, the same myopic useful idiots who cheered the disastrous loss of John Bolton as our U.N ambassador speak of "reconciliation through dialogue." Notwithstanding the mad Iranian's November 29th "convert or die" letter addressed directly to them, they urge the administration to also "sit down and talk" with our enemies.
As suggested by earlier leaks, Wednesday's long-awaited yet essentially humdrum Iraq Surrender Group's report concurred with this history-disproven approach. Big mistake -- in addition to providing Iran bargaining leverage regarding its nuclear ambitions, likely demanded concessions will seriously jeopardize the fate of Israel. And, of course, the guileless proposal will serve to further aggravate the national debate over our priorities and loyalties in the broader Mideast.
Alas, such are precisely the Iranian objectives. Our widening philosophical differences in the west are being exploited just as are those between the embattled Islamic sects in the east. Meanwhile, we -- all of us -- continue to underestimate the menace whose clear purpose is to establish not a Shiite Crescent nor even a Shiite Ellipse, but rather a Shiite Globe and the subjugation or extermination of all within it.
Dare we idly await the completion of their Death Star?
Footnote: [*] For the benefit of those not fluent in "Twelver" Shiite dogma, the Mahdi refers to the 12th-Imam who vanished somewhere around the 9th century. His return, some believe, will be preceded by war, destruction and bloodshed. After a cataclysmic confrontation with evil and darkness, he will lead believers to an era of universal peace. Ahmadinejad has made numerous references to speeding up the arrival of this Hidden Imam through global confrontation.
Marc Sheppard is a technology consultant, software engineer, writer, and political and systems analyst. He is a regular contributor to American Thinker. He welcomes your feedback.