March 24, 2005
ORTHODOX IRAQ VS HERETICAL IRAN:
Iraqi Shiism could topple the mullahs (Cameron Khosrowshahi, March 24, 2005, International Herald Tribune)
At the start of the last century, some time before World War I, my grandfather left his native Iran for Najaf, Iraq. It was a common journey back then for the young and religious-minded in Iran, eager for guidance.
The Shiite centers of learning were located in the shrine cities of Iraq, where the brightest theologians of their time taught in numerous seminaries. This Shiite base outside Iran became one of the critical factors in the downfall of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, which culminated in the Islamic revolution in 1979. The religious classes had a network of followers and funding that existed beyond the reach of the Pahlavi state, which could never completely crush their opposition. Back then, Iraq contained the seeds of upheaval in neighboring Iran. Today, it does so once again. [...]
[T]here is a more organic way to effect change in Iran using the same networks that contributed to its last revolution. Rather than worrying about Iran's influence over Iraq, we should be harnessing the strength of Iraq's newly empowered Shiites against the regime in Iran. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of Iraq's Shiites, is cut from a different cloth from the ruling clerics in Tehran.
Shiaphobes have mistaken Iranian attempts to meddle in Iraq for offensive manuevers when they are in fact defensive, and doomed to failure. Posted by Orrin Judd at March 24, 2005 11:49 PM