of operations in Iraq against Shia civilians, particularly during the holy month
of Ramadan (October), may antagonize Iran so much that it decides to support, at
least covertly, American efforts against al Qaeda in Iraq. This would, in turn,
give the U.S. (and the Shia) a major victory over the Sunni-led al Qaeda Jihad.
At the moment, Iran is caught between a rock and a hard place. While Iran backs
Islamic radicals, it also portrays itself as the defender of Shia Moslems. When
the Taliban and al Qaeda were running Afghanistan, Iran was quite hostile to the
atrocious treatment given to Afghan Shia. But once the Taliban were out of
power, some Iranian Islamic hardliners were willing to help al Qaeda members get
away from Afghans and Americans pursuing them.
Iraqi Shia leaders are
already quietly pressuring Iran for some help against Zarqawi's murderous al
Qaeda terrorists. If Iran doesn't do something, these complaints could turn
public, which would be very embarrassing for Iranian Islamic conservatives.
Al Qaeda's man in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, appears to be
headed for a falling-out with his nominal boss, Osama bin Ladin. Although bin
Laden is anti-Shia, he has been careful not to antagonize Iran, the largest
Shia nation in the world, too much. There were practical reasons for this, as
Iran is the only "Islamic Republic" on the planet, and has plenty of oil. Iran
and al Qaeda both want to see the United States, Israel, and the West in
general, destroyed. Bin Laden has long had a hard time keeping Iran friendly
towards al Qaeda. That's because the Islamic conservatives, who are the core of
al Qaeda support, believe that Shia Moslems are heretics, and should be forced,
under threat of death, to practice the mainline Sunni form of Islam. But at
least bin Laden tried. Zarqawi is another matter.