An article appeared two weeks ago in this magazine entitled ‘Iran is our natural ally’. Images came to mind of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and their good friend Adolf.
The argument is that Saudi Arabia is the instigator of international Islamist terrorism, not Iran; that Saudi Arabia is a repressive country while Iran is quasi-democratic; that unlike Wahhabis, ‘the Shia have no interest in converting everyone else to their religion’.
The author is correct that the Saudi kingdom has used its extensive wealth to promote Wahhabi Islam in schools, madrassas and pesantren, that it has funded Middle East studies centres in universities throughout the world based on values incongruous with those of the West, and has funded think tanks to promote its own interests. Yet while Muslim terrorists throughout the world may follow Wahhabism, it does not follow that the Saudi government has been involved in promoting international terrorism, nor is it inaccurate to state that it has cooperated in limiting the damage. The author is incorrect in implying that the Saudi government instigated Al Qaeda and Isis. Osama bin Laden was hell-bent on overthrowing the Saudi royal family for allowing American military bases on its holy soil.
As for Isis, it originates from the disbandment of Saddam Hussein’s army. Many of its unemployed military leaders joined Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s Al Qaeda in Iraq, which morphed into Isis. Isis’ success derived from its conquests of Mosul with its Iraqi military base. A handful of jihadis captured its enormous arsenal of the latest American military weaponry and vehicles. It is said that the Shia Iraqi army weren’t driven out, they drove out.
This arms stockpile created the best-equipped army in the region, its resources supplemented by the oil wells and refineries captured. None of this had anything to do with Saudi Arabia.
But as for Iran, the contention is that it is not expansionary, doesn’t promote terrorism, is more liberal than Saudi Arabia and is a democracy. Let’s dispose of democracy first. If democracy is a choice between a mullah in a green turban and one with a purple turban then Iran is a democracy, but that’s about it for choice.
‘Iran’s constitution protects the rights of Christians and Jews’, according to the author. Dozens of Jewish and Bahá’í leaders have been hanged, which should be a warning to others not to mess with the clergy. Iran also has the highest rate of execution of anyone other than China. Capital crimes include adultery and homosexuality, which should give anyone intending to deviate from the government’s ideology food for thought.
The author claims that Iran is not engaged in terrorism. In 1983, the Beirut barracks of the Multinational Force in Lebanon were bombed, killing 241 American troops. In 1994, the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina centre in Buenos Aires was bombed, killing 85 civilians and injuring hundreds. All evidence pointed to Iran. Iran supports a range of terrorist organisations including Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and its proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, to name a few. While Iran may not be engaged in terrorism throughout the world, leaving that to the Sunnis, it does support the Syrian regime, which uses Sarin gas and barrel bombs against its own citizens. With over half a million Syrians killed, the world has stopped counting. Iran is also responsible for the many millions left with no homes to return to, and thus for the unprecedented migration into Europe of undocumented Muslim males. Iran has a stated policy of destroying Israel, something that the author scoffs at, describing the fear of this existential threat as a ‘borderline insane obsession’. Somehow the Israeli military doesn’t treat it as a joke. When someone points a gun at you, it is advisable not to laugh at him. Then there is of course the slight issue of the annual ‘Holocaust Denial’ celebrations run by Tehran, at which every KKK, Nazi, white supremacist, racist and anti-semitic nut is more than welcome. The planned annihilation of Israel is to complete Hitler’s task, the mass murder of European Jews, which of course ‘never happened’.
But all of these are side issues. The main thrust of his argument is that Iran does not have any expansionist ambitions. Really? In 1987, Amir Taheri, former editor of Kayhan, Iran’s largest newspaper until the 1979 revolution, produced a book entitled Holy Terror. In the book, he describes Ayatollah Khomeini’s blueprint to convert the world to Islam. There is no time frame for the completion of the task; it may take centuries but the objective must be achieved. There can be no peace between Islam and the West. Contracts can be entered into with kuffirs but on the basis of taqiah, meaning a contract should be honoured only as long as it remains in your favour. The blueprint glorifies death in the cause. The vast majority of this holy mission’s victims will be Muslims since most Muslims are corrupt and beyond redemption.
This is not the place to précis this book, but having read it in 1996 I was well prepared for 9/11 and subsequent events. Over the period since Taheri wrote his book, we can contrast the regime’s achievements with this blueprint. Iran has its tentacles to the east in Afghanistan, plays a key role in Iraq through its Shia -controlled government, has established a commanding presence in Syria down to the Jordanian and Israeli borders, maintains full control of Lebanon through its proxy Hezbollah and is on a path to take over Yemen. Moreover, Iran is committed to developing deliverable nuclear weapons and clearly has the intent of controlling the Gulf. Bahrain has a Shia majority and large Shia communities exist in other Gulf states including Saudi Arabia.
While today’s terrorists are Sunnis, we can see the source of their inspiration from the chapter headings in Holy Terror, written 30 years ago: ‘I kill therefore I am’, ‘The waiting room of Paradise’, ‘Brides of blood’, ‘Daily life under terror’, ‘Death is not an end but a continuation’, and ‘The infidel who cherish life’. All sound familiar? They could be headlines in the late star jihadi recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki’s blog Inspire. Does that sound like the CV of our ‘natural ally’?
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Subscribe – Try a month free