Saturday, March 25, 2006

Amir Taheri: Iran Need Not Be Israel's Enemy

After watching Syriana this afternoon, through a link on Wikipedia I found Amir Taheri's review of the film at Benador Associate's website, which led to finding this interesting analysis by the Iranian-born writer and editor:
Yes, the anti-Israeli discourse of Iran's rulers is as virulent as that of Hamas and other Palestinian radical groups. But that discourse is partly prompted by the regime's desire to hide its Shiite identity so that it can claim the leadership of radical Islam, both Shiite and Sunni.

In fact, regardless of who rules in Tehran, Israel and Iran have common strategic interests.

If Israel had never appeared on the map, the energy of pan-Arab nationalism movement, which dominated Arab politics in the post-war era, would have been directed against two other neighbors: Turkey and Iran. To a certain extent, it was anyway. Even today, the Arab League claims that the Turkish province of Iskanderun is "usurped Arab territory" and regards the Iranian province of Khuzestan as "occupied Arab land."

And Arab Sunni Islamism is an even more deadly threat to Iran. It was Arab Sunni Islamism that destroyed the Shiite holy shrines in Iraq in 1802, and returned last month to do so again in Samarra. The same movement is behind the cold-blooded murder of several thousand Iraqi Shiite men, women and children since 2004.

To Arab Sunni Islamists, Iranians are gabrs (Zoroastrians); Shiites, including Arab ones, are rafidis (heretics) who must be "re-converted" or put to death.

Both pan-Arab nationalism and pan-Arab Sunni Islamism are as much mortal foes for Iran as they are for Israel. Neither nation will be safe unless the twin monsters are defeated and the Arab states democratized.
For me, Syriana was an intersting film because at least it was about something serious, so I'm prepared to forgive its flaws, of which it has many.

The biggest credibility problem with Syriana's storyline appears to be that the CIA missile aimed at the Emir hits its target--something that didn't take place in the case of Mohmmar Qadaffi, Saddam Hussein, or Osama Bin Laden. As Taheri says:
The CIA masters, for their part, would be pleased with "Syriana" if only because it claims that they can do anything at all!