July 13, 2004

the liberation of Najaf as "a gift from God."

Here's yet another item for the Lonnng list of reasons why the Iraq Campaign was a move of pure genius, and will be remembered in history as a premier example of "Grand Strategy." Actually this item should be listed as a sub-section of one of the more general reasons: To destabilize Islamo-fascist tyrannies.

A New Voice Is Being Heard in Iran, by Amir Taheri
While the world is justly focusing on the movement of terrorists and weapons from Iran into newly liberated Iraq, a movement of ideas and those who preach them traveling in the opposite direction may prove to have more lasting consequences in the long run.

The ideas are coming from Najaf, a dusty nondescript town in southern Iraq which is re-emerging as the principal center of Shi'ite Islam after a hiatus of more than three decades. The men who are taking those ideas into Iran are Iranian and Iraqi clerics who believe that Khomeinism -- the official religion of the Islamic Republic in Tehran -- represents a betrayal of their faith...

The corrupt and brutal tyrants of Iran are at a disadvantage compared to other dictators. Because of their Shi'ite theology, there is one place in the world where they would like to forbid their people to go, but can't. Iraq. Iraq, where the Shi'ite Holy places are. And now literally millions of Iranians are visiting Iraq. They are meeting Americans (check this out!). When they visit they visit a free country, thanks to George W Bush. Iraq may look messy to us, but to Iranians it looks great. And the leader if Shi'ism is in Iraq.
..."Today, Sistani is probably the most influential Shi'ite [religious] leader in the world," says Sabah Zangeneh, who was Tehran's ambassador to the Organization of Islamic Conference until last year. "Many Iranians see in him a revival of the mainstream Shi'ite theology."

Many clerics agree. "It is now clear to most Shi'ites that Khomeinism is a political ideology and a deviation [from the faith]," says Ayatollah Mahmoud Qomi-Tabatabi. "Those who represent authentic Shi'ism cannot speak out in Iran. This is why the Najaf clergy, especially Sistani, are emerging as a pole of attraction for Iranians."

Another Iranian cleric, Hadi Qabel, says that Khomeinism should be regarded as "a political ideology" while Shi'ism, as a religious faith, is represented by "theologians like Sistani who do not seek power."

Hassan Sanai, a prominent mullah in Qom, sees the liberation of Najaf as "a gift from God." "Shi'ism needs a theological center that is not controlled by a government," Ayatollah Sanai says. "It is natural that Najaf should play that role. With Sistani now able to address the [Shi'ite] community, the faith could resume its natural course."...

Posted by John Weidner at July 13, 2004 7:42 PM
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