Sunday, April 11, 2004

Mullahs' fingers in the Iraqi pie 

This will not really come as a surprise to anyone - the increasing number of reports about the role Iran is playing in the "spontaneous" Shia uprising in Iraq. It all makes perfect sense - not only is there is a history (and an expectation) of Iranians supporting their Shia brethren elsewhere in the Middle East (Lebanon comes to mind), but now it's more than just a matter of sectarian solidarity: it's the mullahs' fight for own survival and for the survival of Iran as a Shia theocracy. Remember how the geopolitical situation has changed for Iran over the past two years. Both Iran's western (Iraq) and eastern (Afghanistan) neighbours, until recently a fascist and a theocratic basketcase respectively, are now part of the US's grand experiment at remaking the Middle East and the Muslim world generally into normal states and working democracies. Add to that the constant domestic unrest in Iran, and you have a potent mixture of threats for Iran's aging Shia establishment.

So Khomeini's heirs are shit scared that the liberal democratic experiment will catch on in the region and give Iranian people more boost in their quest for freedom at home. Hence this desperate attempt to turn Iraq into another warringn of waring ethnic and religious factions, where fanaticism and terrorism will bleed America dry and chase it out of the neighbourhood with its tail between its legs (remember Beirut in 1983?).

The Iraqi border has been porous; thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Shia pilgrims have been for months crossing into Iraq to visit the holy sites, giving the Iranian special services an unparalleled opportunity to infiltrate the country. Now we're seeing the results.

The rebellions have to be put down and authority re-established. Then it's time for Iran.

There have been rumblings in Iran for many years now, but despite frequent unrest and rioting, the push for political change there never seems to acquire the sufficient critical mass to allow it to progress to the next stage (like Eastern Europe in 1989/90, Serbia a few years ago, and Georgia recently). The internal opposition is still not strong enough, the rest of the population not desperate enough, and the ruling mullahs not demoralised enough for the "Iranian spring" to take place. But I have a gut feeling that revolution is around the corner and in the next year of so Iran will join the family of democratic nations. As ironic as it sounds, the popular feeling in Iran is already the most pro-American and pro-Western of all the Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries (see here and here). This normalcy among Iranians bodes well for the country's post-theocratic future.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?