July 19, 2006


Iranian President Ahmadinejad: Day of happiness for region near (YNetNews, July 18, 2006)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday, “The day of happiness for the region is near… The world is on the verge of great changes,” according to the Iranian news agency.

To those who have been following Ahmadinejad's statements to the Iranian people, the "day of happiness" is obviously the coming of the Twelfth Imam, or Mahdi -- the hidden Imam who is supposed to usher in the reign of Allah and conversion of the whole world to Islam. The premise of Khomeinism (and Ahmadinejadism) is that the coming of the Mahdi can be hastened through terrorism and warfare by Muslims.

What's interesting to me is that in recent months, Iran has openly attacked the United States and our allies in Iraq and Israel. Hezbollah's attack on Israel has included cruise missiles based on the Chinese Silkworm that were obviously provided by Iran; Revolutionary Guard forces have been observed fighting with Hezbollah; and Iran has flagrantly orchestrated attacks in Iraq by Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and jihadist groups on democrats both Sunni and Shi'a as well as Americans. Iran is not hiding its effort to provoke war. Such openness doesn't make sense as a diplomatic strategy or as a warfare-by-terrorism strategy, both of which benefit from secrecy and try to inflict damage without provoking a strong response. But openness may make theological sense as a prerequisite for drawing the Mahdi.

I find that Omar at Iraq the Model has the same concern: Just new banners, or war drums? (Iraq the Model, July 19)

A few days ago we mentioned that we tend to believe that this ongoing war in -- geographically -- Lebanon is not only about Hizbollah and Israel; that it is probably the first stage of a wider regional conflict that is going to extend far beyond the borders of Lebanon and Israel....

What we must realize here is the involvement of the theological (mythological) element in this particular conflict which is also the reason why this conflict has the potential to expand into full-scale regional war....

[T]his time there's a totally different theological belief that is being used by Iran to provoke and direct this war; I think the best way to say it is that we are about to see Iran launch the mullahs' version of an 'Armageddon'.
I know this may sound absurd and maybe some of you are thinking no one could possibly be thinking that way but remember, I am telling you what extremist theocrats seem to be planning for and logic has very little space in the mullahs' way of thinking....

I know about those of the regime in Iran and its arm in Iraq; both Ahmedinejad and Sadr are devout believers in the 'Savior Imam' of Shia Islam who is the 12th grandson of prophet Mohammed, also known by the name 'Imam Mehdi' hence the name of Sadr's militias 'the Mehdi Army'....

Both Ahmedinejad and Sadr believe it is their duty to pave the way and prepare the ground for the rise of the Imam whose rise, according to their branch of Shia Islam, requires certain conditions and a sequence of certain events....

We are seeing some signs here that make us think that Iran and its tools in Iraq are trying to provoke the rise of the imam through forcing the signs they believe should be associated with that rise. One of the things that do not feel right is the sudden appearance of new banners and writings on the walls carrying religious messages talking specifically of imam Mehdi....

The interesting part is that these banners appeared within less than 24 hours after Hizbollah kidnapped the Israeli soldiers. Coincidence? I don't think so.

I believe that Iran has had nuclear weapons for several years, obtaining some from North Korea at about the time of the Iraq invasion in 2003 and completing its own assembly line since. They certainly have the capability to wage a very deadly war. Perhaps they believe that nuclear weapons are what the Mahdi has been waiting for.

The sensible thing for Iran to do would be to draw back from war, but they haven't been sensible for some time now. Any bets on where this goes next? Does Iran back down, or raise the stakes?

Posted by pjaminet at July 19, 2006 10:48 PM

They've had several opportunities to back down and have instead become more provocative. It doesn't make any sense unless they are trying to precipitate a conflict. The most obvious next step would be an attack on U.S. troops in Iraq, either by Mookie's militia or some type of CB/nuclear weapon, but I don't see how they can possibly win such an engagement.

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 12:07 AM


If the mullahs are serious about the imment return of the Mahdi, then that's all they need to win. Conventional forces will be irrelevant. It wouldn't be the first time leaders have lead their people right off a cliff based on the presumption of the End of Times.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at July 20, 2006 12:40 AM


The Sioux in the late 19th Century believed that partaking in the 'Ghost Dance' would make them immune from American bullets. We all know how that one turned out.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at July 20, 2006 12:45 AM

Empirical theological experiments are always dangerous and generally counterproductive. The hubris in believing you can force God to do something is a heresy in all religions of which I am aware.

What I find curious is what must be going on behind the scenes to make them want to force the issue now. The proposed U.N. sanctions can't be sufficient reason.

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 1:15 AM

I wonder if the leaders actually believe in the Mahdi, or if they are exploiting the beliefs of their followers. Perhaps they believe war with the US is inevitable, and are preparing their followers for it.

Either way, it seems war is likely.

Posted by: pj at July 20, 2006 7:48 AM

I don't think that they have nuclear weapons yet. If they did have them, why wouldn't they have already used them?... or at least tested one in a highly visible way?

Posted by: Earl Sutherland at July 20, 2006 9:00 AM

If so, bring it on.

Why not one more Omdurman?


Posted by: Lou Gots at July 20, 2006 9:08 AM

The problem for Iran with nuclear weapons, if they have them, is that while Ahmadinejad may believe they will fortell the coming of the 12th Imam or whatever, the saner heads running the country know that any use of them is a one-shot deal. Shooting off a nuke at Tel Aviv will immediately draw retaliation not only by Israel (which they no doubt think they could handle and would turn the rest of the world's Muslims to their side), but also the U.S. And just like Nixon back in 1973, Bush has done enough militarily so far to give anyone who might think about going nuclear pause that they aren't bringing massive retaliation down on their own heads (Kissinger's "Madman Theory" works both ways -- we don't know for sure if Mahmoud is as crazy as he acts at times, but they don't know if GWB isn't mean enough to give them a taste of their own nuclear medicine).

Posted by: John at July 20, 2006 9:34 AM

Any Iranian use of nuclear weapons ought to bring the destruction not just of Iran, but of North Korea which supplied them with nukes.

Earl, there's no reason for Iran to demonstrate it has nukes. If it's planning to use them, why would it waste one in a demonstration? And why it would use one before they're ready, especially since, as John says, they only get one chance to strike? They must have some overall plan. To wage war in a serious way against the U.S. and Israel requires far more than one nuke. No, they will keep building more, and then use the whole arsenal when they feel the time is right.

Posted by: pj at July 20, 2006 10:42 AM

I might add that recent behavior suggests a high degree of self-confidence (or hubris). If in a Wild West showdown, you saw a guy acting with great swagger and provoking others, would you guess he was unarmed, or that he had a gun and maybe a bulletproof vest too?

Posted by: pj at July 20, 2006 10:44 AM

"From the beginning of time, humanity has longed for the day when justice, peace, equality and compassion envelop the world. All of us can contribute to the establishment of such a world. When that day comes, the ultimate promise of all Divine religions will be fulfilled with the emergence of a perfect human being who is heir to all prophets and pious men. He will lead the world to justice and absolute peace.

"O mighty Lord, I pray to you to hasten the emergence of your last repository, the promised one, that perfect and pure human being, the one that will fill this world with justice and peace."

- Ahmadinejad in his most recent UN speech

This was the last thing in the speech. One might also remember that this is where he thought the hand of God put a glow over him to put the UN members in a trance like state.

Posted by: BJW at July 20, 2006 10:51 AM

Surprise! The twelfth Imam is Bush.

Posted by: erp at July 20, 2006 10:51 AM

I'd like to know whether there has really been a change in rhetoric from Iran in the last couple years, or whether the internet means that we're more aware of it (the MSM has zero interest in reporting on these ravings). Either way, they can't be allowed to have nukes, but the perceived risk is greatly altered if there's been no escalation from the standard level of craziness of the last 25+ years.

Posted by: b at July 20, 2006 12:28 PM

North Korea does not have nukes. So, where would Iran get them?

Posted by: Bob at July 20, 2006 2:33 PM

Soviets maybe?

Posted by: erp at July 20, 2006 3:19 PM


There has been a distinct change, but you can trace almost all of it back to Ahmadinejad. That's a big plank of the "saner heads" theory, in which the ruling mullahs let him rave on because it's useful internally and externally, but they don't let him get his hands on any power.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at July 20, 2006 6:27 PM