Counter-Terrorism: The Iranian Threat to Islam

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October 12, 2006: The Saudis are making a major behind-the-scenes effort to convince the Palestinians to restart negotiations with Israel. This may indicate a quiet shift in the Saudi position on the legitimacy of the "Zionist entity," prompted largely by fears that a continuation of the Israel-Palestinian conflict will fuel Islamic radicalism in the kingdom itself. The Saudis are also worried about Iran. While, on the surface, Saudi Arabia is on good terms with its mighty neighbor across the Gulf, in private, Saudis are unhappy with growing Iranian military power. And then there is the religious angle. The Iranians are Shia Moslems, a sect based largely on a thousand year old disagreement over who is the legitimate successor to the founder of Islam. The Shia lost the original struggle, and have not forgotten. Put another way, the current religious dictatorship in Iran is run by Shia clerics. When these guys preach about Islam dominating the entire planet, they are talking about Shia, not Sunni (as practiced by 85 percent of Moslems). For most of the last four thousand years, the Iranians have dominated the region militarily. The Iranians want a return to their good old days. The Saudis may be a little paranoid, but they do note Iranian influence among Iraqi Shia (who control the Iraqi government), as well as in Syria (where a Shia minority runs a Sunni country) and Lebanon (where Hizbollah's exploits are being extolled, by Iran, as an example all Moslems should follow.) The Saudis see the Iranians forming this "arc of control" with all these foreign adventures. Saudis also note, with horror, that Sunni clerics in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, are being encouraged to convert to Shia Islam. The bottom line is that Saudi Arabia is beginning to view Iran as more of a threat than Israel.

 


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