The United States lost another ally in the war against Islamic terrorism. The pro-American government in Yemen–which helped us fight the ruthless Yemeni al-Qaida and allowed our drone attacks–was overthrown by Houthi rebels. The Houthi are Shi’ites, meaning they oppose the Sunni al-Qaida and ISIS, but are allied with Iran. Still, they oppose the drone strikes and are strongly anti-American and anti-Israel. The coup is another setback for American anti-terrorism efforts. [Read more…]
Remember the Badr Brigade, the vicious jihadists that were the bane of our existence in the Iraq War? Remember Iran, the vicious jihadists that have been the bane of our existence ever since the hostage crisis during the Carter administration? Well, the Badr Brigade and Iran are both our allies in the struggle against the even more vicious jihadists known as the Islamic State.
The fact is, the struggle in the Middle East is not just against the West or even Israel. We are seeing a religious war between the two major sects of Islam, the Sunni and the Shi’a. Their relationship is about the same as that of the Catholics and the Protestants during the Thirty Years War. While they are both arrayed against the West and Israel (just as Protestants and Catholics were both arrayed against the Muslims in the 17th century), these two groups consider each other heretics and apostates and wage jihad against each other. After the jump, a rough guide as to who is on what side. [Read more…]
The U.S. trained and equipped Iraqi army is much bigger and better armed than the ISIS insurgents, but in combat they have been running away in droves. So the chief Shi’ite cleric has called for volunteers and a reconstituting of the militias to fight back against the Sunni insurgents. And that seems to be working. The ISIS forces have been stopped for now on their march to Baghdad and some of the territory they won is being recaptured.
In the meantime, Iran is offering to help their Shi’ite brethren. And President Obama has said that we won’t send in troops, but leaves the door open for air strikes. [Read more…]
It looks like we are approaching the helicopter-on-the-roof phase in Iraq, as Americans are being evacuated as the rebel army moves closer and closer to Baghdad. (To add insult to injury, the rebels are apparently making use of American equipment that was left behind.)
But the situation there is not just about us. The rebel organization is called ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. They are Sunni Muslims, which was Saddam Hussein’s denomination, seeking to overthrow the Shi’ite Muslims, who make up 60% of the population and who assumed power in the American-imposed democracy. The Sunnis are also opposed to Iran and to the Shi’ite dictatorship in Syria. Iran might actually support the existing government, as ISIS–which includes Syrian rebels ostensibly supported by the United States–seeks to create a pan-Sunni state in the region. Both factions have their jihadist terrorists and consider the USA their enemy, but they also hate each other. So this is not only a war against the West, but also an intr-Islamic religious war. [Read more…]
Theology may be bringing down Iran’s President Ahmadinejad. So says Karim Sadjadpour, writing in the Washington Post:
While Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s demagoguery and Holocaust revisionism on the world stage have earned him alarmist comparisons to Adolf Hitler, his recent, ignoble fall from grace reveals the Iranian president for what he really is: the dispensable sword of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The marriage of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad should be understood in the context of Iran’s internal rivalries. Since the death in 1989 of the revolution’s father, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini — whose austere nature and anti-Americanism set the tenor for Iran’s post-monarchic order — Tehran’s political elite has been broadly divided into two schools.
Reformists and pragmatists argued that ensuring the Islamic Republic’s survival required easing political and social restrictions and prioritizing economic expediency over ideology. Hard-liners, led by Khamenei, believed that compromising on revolutionary ideals could unravel the system, just as perestroika did the Soviet Union. . . .
Ahmadinejad’s pious populism resonated among Iran’s working classes, and his revolutionary zeal and willingness to attack Khamenei’s adversaries endeared him to the supreme leader, whose backing of Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential election proved decisive. The balance of power between the two was exhibited during Ahmadinejad’s inauguration, when the new president prostrated himself before Khamenei and kissed his hand.
Under the supreme leader’s approving gaze, Ahmadinejad’s first term as president was spent bludgeoning Khamenei’s domestic opponents, taking a hard line on the nuclear issue and taunting the United States. Ahmadinejad’s newfound fame abroad, however, confused his true position at home.
What Khamenei failed to realize was that Ahmadinejad and his cohorts had greater ambitions than simply being his minions.
They spoke of their direct connection to the hidden imam — Shiite Islam’s Messiah equivalent — in an attempt to render the clergy obsolete. In “private” meetings — which were bugged by intelligence forces loyal to Khamenei — Ahmadinejad’s closest adviser, Rahim Mashaei, spoke openly of designs to supplant the clergy. The last straw came earlier this year, when Ahmadinejad tried to take over the Ministry of Intelligence, whose vast files on the financial and moral corruption of Iran’s political elite are powerful tools of political persuasion and blackmail.
The supreme leader was publicly nonchalant about Ahmadinejad’s insubordination; privately, however, he unleashed jackals that had long been salivating for the president’s comeuppance. The powerful Revolutionary Guards — who helped engineer Ahmadinejad’s contested 2009 reelection — swiftly declared their devotion to Khamenei, and several of the president’s advisers were arrested.
One former Guard and current member of parliament, Mohammad Karamirad, sent Ahmadinejad a message last weekin the form of a macabre Persian proverb: “If [Khamenei] asks us to bring him a hat, we know what to bring him,” i.e., the head of the person wearing the hat.In addition to proving the primacy of Iran’s supreme leader, the rise and fall of Ahmadinejad exemplifies the contempt that Tehran’s ruling cartel has for the intelligence of its citizenry.
Ahmadinejad’s tainted reelection — which spurred millions to take to the streets — was hailed by Khamenei as a “divine assessment” and the people’s will. Two years later, Ahmadinejad and his cronies are accused by former supporters of being “deviant Zionist agents” and “possessed by the devil.”
Khamenei’s desire to project a unified front to the world is likely to keep Ahmadinejad in office until his term expires in 2013. Khamenei seeks to wield power without accountability; this requires a president who has accountability without power. A disgraced Ahmadinejad can conveniently absorb blame for the country’s endemic economic, political and social disaffection.
Not to be outdone by Harold Camping, some Muslims are predicting the onset of the End Times to occur on June 5. Iran’s political establishment is being torn by a controversy over the return of the messiah-like Mahdi. Some Shi’ites have set a date, so we will be able to see if they are right. From Reza Kahlili:
Increasing tensions between Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad intensified when hardline clerics exerted pressure on Ahmadinejad to obey the supreme leader as the ultimate authority. Those tensions were exacerbated with the arrest of over 25 of Ahmadinejad’s associates and loyalists, along with a high-level member of his inner circle. Supporters of the supreme leader are referring to Ahmadinejad’s group as “The Deviant Movement.”
This “group” has announced that within the upcoming weeks a monumental event will turn the tide to their advantage.
Based on a report from Iran’s Ayandeh, one of the officials within “The Deviant Movement” has informed his confidants that certain sources close to the “Mahdi’s Emergence Movement” have stated that an important event will soon change the course of operations to Ahmadinejad’s favor. According to interpretations offered by Ahmadinejad’s team, a high-ranking member of the Islamic Republic will meet with a climactic incident. This in turn will build up to the announcement of the “covert emergence” of the Twelfth Imam (or Mahdi) in Medina, Saudi Arabia.
Hardliners critical of Ahmadinejad maintain that his team believes a covert emergence will commence on the 14th of Khordaad (June 5) in Medina, setting the stage for the announcement of the actual emergence in the next few years.
Certain accounts have chronicled that prior to the official emergence of the Mahdi, he will appear covertly in Medina, and during a period of one to three years he will lay the foundations for the actual announcement of his appearance. . . .
Ahmadinejad believes that the covert emergence has, in fact, occurred. Therefore, he acts like he no longer needs the supreme leader and that he can disobey him, as he is taking his orders directly from the Mahdi himself.
Mehdi Khazali, son of Ayatollah Khazali — an ally of Khamenei who has access to high-level authorities within the supreme leadership — has noted on his website that the month of Khordaad (May 21 to June 21) will generate much chaos within the Iranian political strata. He has also expressed grave concern regarding the state of affairs and developments facing the Iranian people in the second half of the month. . . .
Since Ahmadinejad’s ascent to power, talk of the emergence of the Mahdi has increased. A number of hardliners, who are installed within the halls of the presidency, are attempting to utilize the Iranian and global situation to demonstrate the signs of the emergence of the Mahdi and to prove that the Rapture is imminent.
As I revealed recently, a secret Iranian documentary, The Coming is Upon Us, details the last condition for the reappearance as the destruction of Israel and the conquest of Jerusalem by Ahmadinejad. He has been portrayed as the mythical figure in centuries-old Hadiths, Shoeib-ebne Saleh, the Islamic commander who attacks Israel in the End of Times and creates the needed circumstances for the reappearance of the Shiite messiah, the 12th Imam Mahdi.
The question is: Will the rifts in the Iranian leadership push Ahmadinejad and his team to draw Israel into an unwanted war to prove that he is that mythical figure and to facilitate the Rapture?
How is the religion of Harold Camping like that of Islam?