Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Iran threatens Western powers
Troubling signs from Iran as MEMRI reports this morning of recent threats made by Iranian leaders against Western powers. Over the past few days and weeks, prominent Iranian figures have been drumming up their populus with some dangerously antagonistic messages that seem to be leading to an overt support of terrorist activities.

Iran's spiritual leader, Ali Khamenei, said on July 5th: "We, the Iranian people, within the borders of our country, will cut off any hand that harms our scientific, natural, human, or technological interests. We will cut off the hand that is sent to invade and work against our people's interests. We will do this with no hesitation.... If the enemy has the audacity to harm and invade, our blows against it will not be limited to the borders of our country... If someone harms our people and invades our country, we will endanger his interests anywhere in the world."

This is a usual fiery response of Islamic leadership that perceives an external threat, but Iranian Revolutionary Guards Political Bureau head General Yadollah Javani seems to infer a more sinister threat.

He stated: "The converging of millions of Iranian youth imbued with the spirit of Shehada [martyrdom] in the Basij forces... along with a courageous leader, the trend of the Islamic awakening, and the consolidation of many supporters around Iran's Islamic revolution can [all] go into action in times of crisis and play their part in light of these threats. Today we have in our possession long-range smart missiles which can reach many of the interests and vital resources of the Americans and of the Zionist regime in our region. Thus, if the enemies show stupidity and make any mistake towards Iran, [Iran] will certainly use all the means and capabilities at its disposal."

Whether this can be viewed as mere rhetoric or not is a debatable issue, but the message it sends to radical groups within Iran is unquestionable. It amounts to an unconstrained, inferred approval of what we could be termed 'terrorist activities' from the "many supporters around Iran's Islamic Revolution".

The Middle East is becoming an increasingly enflamed arena of foreign policy for both the US and more generally the West. One does get that feeling that we're nearing some sort of tipping point either way, a watershed if you will, and the foreign policy initiatives played out in the next few months will have vast implications. With this all being extrapolated in the midst of a US (and possibly UK) election campaign, the stakes could not be higher.