The English-language daily Tehran Times, quoting political scientist Hassan Nurani, said the influence of the late Imam Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution on the Palestinian cause is very obvious.
The ideas of Imam Khomeini reinforced the Palestinians’ determination to liberate their homeland and led to the formation of the Islamic Jihad movement of Palestine, he underlined. — from this Islamic Republic News Agency story
The wrong lesson to draw from this is that there is nothing important dividing Sunni and Shi’a. There is, and there has been for 1350 years, and because of Sunni persecution and murder of Shi’a, Shi’a resentment has grown. Through assorted accidents, the Shi’a in Iran and Iraq, while hardly sharing the same views on everything, do share an interest on protecting themselves from being attacked by or subjugated within Sunni Arab states.
What the story above illustrates is what we already knew: that the Shi’a of Iran are not, pace Gerecht and other admirers of Sistani and “the Shi’a” at My Weekly Standard, less fervent than Sunnis in their opposition to the sliver of a state controlled by Infidels — Israel. And anti-Infidel fervor, the Islamic Republic of Iran feels, can be used to win the allegiance not of the Sunni Arab rulers, who are suspicious of their attentions, but of the Sunni Arab ruled.
And not only that. Like Muslims generally among non-Muslims in Europe, the Shi’a have been outbreeding the Sunni Arabs in both Iraq (where they were a few decades ago less than half the population, but now constitute 60-65%) and in Lebanon (where the Shi’a now constitute the largest of Lebanon’s many groups, with 40% of the population). It is hardly unknown for Sunnis to convert to Shi’a Islam. And recently, apparently out of admiration for the determination and seeming effectiveness of the Islamic Republic of Iran both in its nuclear project and in its championing of the “Palestinian” cause (the Lesser Jihad against Israel), there have been cases of such conversion. This must worry the Ruler of Bahrain; it must worry the Sunnis in Lebanon; it must worry the Saudi government and especially those in charge of the Province of Al-Hasa.
But of course even if the Shi’a of Iran are supporting the largely Sunni “Palestinians,” that does not mean that they have made up with the Sunnis, or ever could. Sunni theology is different, and Sunni history is full of anti-Shi’a wars and persecutions.
When it is a matter directly involving Infidels, then Sunni-Shi’a differences do not matter. But when the Infidels can choose to remove themselves, as they could in Iraq, the split between Sunni and Shi’a could be allowed to flourish. Now Israel cannot “remove” itself and should not be forced to, but rather, supported to the hilt in the moral, intellectual, and civilizational interests of the Western world. This support should be seen by every member of the Western world (and by every Christian in the non-Western world) as arising from the West’s very sense of itself and of its own coherence. But in Iraq those Infidel soldiers can and should remove themselves, not out of any desire to placate or appease, or to “cut and run” as the teasing first-graders like to say, but in order to allow the natural divisions within Islam to become still stronger, and to create a permanent fault line between Shi’a and Sunni that will cause tensions, hostilities, and expenditures of men, money, materiel by both the Islamic Republic of Iran and such malevolent Sunni states as Saudi Arabia. It will also require constant attention from both.
There is at least one event that demonstrates clearly that Muslims, being Muslims, will always assume that in the end it is better to trust fellow Muslims than any kind of Infidel. That event took place during the Gulf War. Saddam Hussein was afraid of the Americans bombing his airforce. What did he do? The leader of a country that had attacked, unprovoked, a neighboring Muslim country, Iran, and who had conducted an eight-year war against that same country, Iran, that had just ended three years before, nonetheless chose to move as many of his planes as he safely could to Iran. He chose, that is, to trust the Iranians, even after that eight-year-war, with 80 or more of his planes. He calculated that the Islamic Republic of Iran, much as it might hate him and Iraq, would see the need to help out fellow Muslims.
It turned out he was wrong to have such faith. The Iranians never returned the planes. In this act of touching and misplaced faith, Saddam Hussein showed how deep, even for someone as suspicious as he was, is pan-Muslim loyalty or the sense that in a pinch, a fellow Muslim state not temporarily co-opted by the Infidels will help out another Muslim state. (Saudi Arabia, with its rented lackeys Egypt, and Jordan all supported the American effort against Iraq in 1990-91 because they feared that if Saddam successfully digested Kuwait, he might then move on Saudi Arabia. This “alliance” was misinterpreted in Washington as one of “staunch Arab allies standing with America in fighting aggression against brave little Kuwait”).
And Saddam Hussein’s trust in fellow-Muslim Iran was akin to the trust shown by his great model, the man he admired most, Joseph Stalin, when Stalin had Molotov sign the pact with Ribbentropp. And though a master of malevolent deceit himself, Stalin was genuinely surprised, genuinely chagrinned, when Hitler, ignoring the Molotov-Ribbentropp Pact, invaded Russia in June 1941. Why, he had counted on a fellow mass-murderer and totalitarian dictator to have some loyalties to at least another mass-murder and totalitarian dictator. Something of the same seemed to have passed through Saddam Hussein’s perfervid and agitated brain before and during the Gulf War.
And in both cases, the dictators in question were wrong.