Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Target: Iran
After yesterday's comments by the leadership of Iran's Revolutionary Guards stating that there would be an "astonishing" retaliation to any attack against the Islamic republic by Israel or the United States, MEMRI has some interesting titbits from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In an address to the Hajj pilgrims he said:
"… At present, the Islamic world is faced with an all-out siege, both on the economic and the technological fronts, as well as with a propaganda offensive, and most recently with military occupation. The occupation of Palestine and the holy city of Quds [Jerusalem] have culminated in the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The Zionist octopus – along with the vicious and despicable U. S. imperialism – now harbors plans for the entire region of the Middle East, as well as North Africa and the entire Islamic world. They have created the general awakening, which has breathed new life into the Islamic nation [ Ummah ], the target of their vengeance and spite.

"The U.S. and the Western imperialists have finally concluded that Muslim countries and nations, especially those of the Middle East, form the core of this awakening and resistance to their plans for global domination. They foresee that if they fail to control or suppress this Islamic awakening in the next few years with political and economic measures, through propaganda, and as a last resort through military aggression, all their plans for absolute global hegemony and control of the most vital oil and gas resources, which constitute the sole powerhouse of their industrial machinery and [the sole] cause of their material edge over the rest of humanity, will come to nothing.

"If that happens, the big Western and Zionist capitalists, who are the real backstage players in all imperialist governments, will fall from the height of their power and their domination over the nations.

"However, as a consequence of the insolent and foolishly reckless conduct of the U.S. and British rulers, this mask of deception and hypocrisy has been fractured. With their own hands, they have stuffed the hearts of Muslim nations and youth with hatred for the arrogant imperialists. Should free elections be held today in any Muslim country, the people would definitely vote against the wishes of the U.S. and Britain."

Khamenei is clearly framing an ideological battle here, as most other anti-US Muslim leaders have. What's important is that he credits the US policies for "awakening" Islamic ideology throughout the Middle East.

The last sentence is also very interesting. Khamenei is clearly trying to play to an international Islamic audience in taking the sting out of the Bush Administrations comments that democracy would change mindsets in the Middle East. This cuts to the bone of the Bush Administration's policies, and the theocratic strength of Khamenei within Iran may well achieve stature for this type of argument.

There are huge political powerplays unfolding in front of our eyes here, with both the US and the Iranians ramping up the rhetoric. One could conclude that the US is sabotaging any European actions in diplomatic resolve with Iran in its daily threats, and it seems there is little backing for pre-emptive action from European allies, not least from British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. Bush is resolute in his 2nd term aims, stating yesterday that he has "planted a flag of liberty" and committing to continue his course. There seems no doubt now that no diplomatic solution will be found to the Iran issue, as it us unlikely that the Iranians can back down without losing face. Given the troop involvement in Iraq, and attack may be at least a year off yet, but bolstered by Israeli troops, perhaps we could see it sooner. In either case, it seems a formality now...