Islamic Republic of Iran Fearful Of Sunni Extremists In Pakistan
In the aftermath of a weak central government in Pakistan and escalating attacks by the reactionary Islamic extremists, the new government of Pakistan headed by Asif Ali Zardari is headed towards a collapse. Zardari who is unable to control the unfolding events in Pakistan, recently was forced to allow a coalition of Taliban and Al Qaeda to impose their Islamic Sharia in tribal region of Swat in Northeastern Pakistan. Such a concession to reactionaries of the region has caused a new wave of Islamic extremism to sweep this populous nation of 173 million people.
Central government's pullback hasn't been limited to giving concession in Swat region, few weeks ago Imam Abdul-Aziz, prayer leader of the Red Mosque in Islamabad, was released on bail. Abdul-Aziz with some minor differences is what Khomeini was for Iran thirty years ago. Right after he was released from prison he announced, "Islamic laws not only should be enforced in Pakistan but those laws should be followed all over the world". Abdul-Aziz who was treated like a hero by thousands of his followers in the Red Mosque, with a mentoring tone announced that, "we hope, with God's help, our sacrifices will not go in vain and Islam not only will rule Pakistan but also the entire world". While talking like a leader he added, "we are a peaceful people, but if they try to stop us or create obstacles for us....they first should take a look at what we did in Swat and other tribal regions". He was referring to recent events in that region and threatening the central government to either cave in to pressures from the extremists or face the consequences.
The mosque that Abdul-Aziz delivered his speech is the same mosque that on July 10 2007 was stormed by the Pakistan's military forces and is considered one of the operational centers for the Muslim extremists. At that time the mosque was surrounded for one week by the police and 100 people were killed during the clashes. Abdul-Aziz's brother, Abdul-Rashid Fazi who was also a prayer leader, was among the deads. Abdul-Aziz who considers himself the leader of the Muslims was in the Red Mosque during the clashes and was arrested while trying to escape by disguising himself under Islamic veil. Different types of firearms such as, rocket launchers, machine guns, grenade launchers were found in the mosque.
Mounting fears among the heads of the Islamic Republic regime, and statements issued by Taliban.
With the spread of Sunni extremism and the weak central government of Zardari, more than America and any other Arab nation in the region, regime of Islamic Republic is deeply concerned about the events in Pakistan. With the collapse of the central government, and takeover by the Sunni extremists, in a country with more than 100 nuclear warheads and 2.5 times more people, the power image of the regime in Tehran can easily evaporate.
High anxiety among the heads of the regime in Tehran forced them to actively participate in Tokyo conference few weeks ago. In this conference Iran's delegation promised to shoulder some of the money that has been allocated as a financial aid to Pakistan with the conditions that the US also will keep the Zardari's government in power. Despite all the promises made by Zardari in this conference to fight the extremists, his past policies and the unfolding events in Pakistan may prove otherwise. His talks and promises are mainly intended to encourage more financial aids for Pakistan.
Based on the previous agreements between government and the extremists when the government accepted to give the control of the Swat valley to the extremists and allowed them to enforce Islamic Shariah, in return they promised to lay down their arms and maintain peace in the region which is only 100 kilometers from the capital Islamabad. But the events in the last few weeks proved the opposite, Molla-Aziz's speeches show that they are after taking over the government.
Despite all the talks about "bad" and "good" Taliban circulating in Washington, there is no sign from "good" Taliban helping the US in the region. Few weeks ago spokesman of the Taliban in the region, Moslem Khan, said, "as long as governments in Pakistan and Afghanistan continue their anti-Islamic policies there is no reason for Taliban to lay down its weapons". He continued saying, "if we achieve victory in one region, people want us to help them in the other regions as well". Taliban along with Al-Qaeda and the Imams such as Abdul-Aziz are pretty adamant about spreading Islam in the world and making "divine ruling" universal. Spokesman of Taliban said, "we both are fighting for the same goal and that is to enforce Islamic law on the earth".
Fears and high level of anxiety among the heads of the regime in Tehran make sense in the context that not only in the last 30 years they have imposed a theocratic tyranny on the people of Iran but also have accumulated millions of dollars in personal foreign accounts. With the collapse of the government in Pakistan and a following takeover by a coalition of Taliban and Al-Qaeda the true color of the "anti-imperialist" slogans of the regime will be exposed.
It has been very clear from day one that the regime has based some of its domestic policies around international tensions hoping to solidify its oppressive grips on power. The Islamic regime has always tried to seek some sort of pretext such as "attack by foreign enemies", "spread of Western culture", or nuclear issues to justify its repressive crackdowns.
Nonetheless regime's worries about the events in Pakistan are not completely baseless. With the emergence of extremists in Pakistan, public perception in Iran is not in a mode to let the heads of the regime to drag down the entire nation into a sectarian Sunni-Shia war. This time regime will not be able to use the same demagoguery that they used in the 8 years war with Iraq. The war that had devastating consequences for the whole nation. Slogans such as "establishing divine government on the planet" are no longer effective. Those slogans and empty promises that followed belong to an era that the true color of the regime was still in doubt for many. If thirty years ago some responded positively to the Khomeini's slogan that, "blood is triumphant over sword'', those days are all gone.
Nowadays, Ahmadinejad's slogans and speeches have much different tones. His speeches for the crowds in towns that he visits is more like a teacher teaching war lessons to the kids in elementary schools! He goes asking, "what do we do if enemy attacks us?", and the crowd chants, "we resist". He seems in not tired of repeating his ever boring slogans. He asks, "what is nuclear energy" and the crowd responds, "our just right". Most of the times, these crowds are the same people which are bussed in to the government's parades in an organized fashion by the government organs.
Something similar to what happened in Iran thirty years ago might repeat itself here in Pakistan. Even though Pakistan's extremists are not in power yet but the pattern is similar. It might take a long time, perhaps another thirty years or so, until people like Abdul Aziz, Molla Omar, and Bin Laden to build up their foreign bank accounts, and only then they might tone down their fiery slogans. Ahmadinejad's speeches and messages for the world of Islam don't come close to the fiery agenda that Pakistan's extremists are presenting. Few weeks ago during Abdul Aziz's speech in the Red Mosque when the crowd where crying out "Jihad, Jihad" (i.e., holy war) , he responded saying, "we must intensify our struggle". Then facing the crowd he asked, "are you willing to give your life and blood for our goals". The alienated crowd chanted back, "yes, yes, we do". These type of slogans don't mean too much in Iran anymore even for the uneducated sectors of the society. Only government organs such as Passdaran, Basij, and paid operatives of the government are willing to become part of these circus shows. Almost on a daily basis, extremists deliver suicide attacks in Pakistan, but in Iran there are only talks about these type of operations. Now and then, government officials thinking to flex their muscles against the West try to bring out some of their supporters to the streets claiming to be ready for these type of operations. Groups such as "Khahrane Zeinab" (sister's of Zeinab) usually are bussed in near the foreign embassies as part of the regime's scare tactics. Suicide attacks that the regime in Iran is behind them are usually carried out by the Palestinian supporters of the regime, and no member of the Passdaran, or Basij ever directly is involved in these attacks for "freeing Jerusalem", or "defeating dirty world power oppressors". "Resistance against Zionist until the last drop of blood", slogan that we have been hearing from the mouthpieces of the regime for so many years is good only if is carried out by the Palestinians and the blood comes from them!
Some of the factions in the regime in Tehran, specially some of the fundamentalists are pushing for the policy that makes the extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan as imminent dangers. There are talks to "forget about fighting America". Talks like these have reached the government's publications and web sites. Even though these policies haven't become the government's official policy yet, but in reality the regime has already promised large sums of financial aids to the government of Zardari in Pakistan. Regime in Tehran continues to complain that the US has failed to control the situation in Pakistan as expected.
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