I could not fully believe what I have been hearing about Iran's support for Syria. Might I say I am beginning to feel disappointed?
I thought it was a form of benign neglect until I read news of its 'new' position regarding holding nuclear talks in Istanbul. To snub Turkey and her popular Islamic-minded PM, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan in this manner is rather unexpected, disrespectful, patently unfriendly, dangerous and foolhardy, to say the least. Iran cannot live with anyone it appears. What the West has long wanted is now actually happening!
When somebody just last week (week of March 26, 2012) on NPR's morning talk radio called Syria Iran's stooge, I laughed. The endless maligning of Iran was not about to stop just because the War Game has been put on pause. The diabolical propaganda machine which has brought yet another war to the front door has acquired immense inertia. It has to be force fed peace before it will choke and begin to cease and desist.
I am a Muslim, but I am neither an Iranian nor an Arab or Turkic. However, I am a Sunni. Regardless, I have long been on Iran's side. Note my two articles on www.iviews.com ('The Name Game Comes Home to Roost: Islamophobe' and 'At War's Door: Confusion or Deliberate Duality about Iran') as evidence of that. I have felt that Iran has been treated and judged unfairly by western nations and some segment of Muslim countries and intellectuals for almost the entire part of last three decades.
I tried to justify what could make Iran adhere so closely to the Alawites of Syria. Perhaps, wildly guessing, I told myself, now that Israel could swoop down on them from nowhere, having listening posts in Syria would help. So, Iran could be excused for its low key disposition toward the Syrian regime.
Surely, it could not be a tit for tat exercise: GCC and Western support for Bahrain vs. Iranian support for Syria. Iran is a pretty principled nation. Right and wrong are very clear to its leadership. No?
What is it about the Syrian regime that is not OK? It should be a quick read for the revolutionary Hanif (upright) leaders of Iran. But in case there is a hesitation, let me do some exploring and fact finding.
First, let us ask a few questions about Iraq's late erstwhile leader Saddam Hussain. Was he a Stalinist Baathist? Did he come to power by coup d'tat and/or by inheritance? Was he seriously anti Islam? Did he kill thousands of his compatriots so as to hold on to power? Did he keep getting elected unopposed and with almost 100 percent approval rating? Did he rely on family and close-knit friends' circle to control the economy, the military and the government? Did he believe in Shura? Whatever the answers may be for the above queries, would the answers change if we asked them about Syria's Bashar Al Assad?
Secondly, in this Spring of Muslim liberation, why should Bashar Al Assad be judged any differently from Tunisia's Ben Ali, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh and Bahrain's Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa? Before this momentous season of uprisings, the dealing with Syria could be of one kind. However, following that watershed period, how can Iran not change her position?
Thirdly, why cry for the past death and destruction suffered in Palestine and Lebanon in Israel's hands when that suffered under Bashar is glossed over?
Fourthly, what defense support is Syria really able to give to Iran in today's environment?
Fifthly, would a new Syria not be a stronger ally and a better Muslim State?
Sixthly, is Iran not driving revolutionary Syrians towards Iran's enemies for a long period of time?
Seventhly, when the Syrian people supported Lebanon, Palestine and Iran, were they only the Alawites giving that support?
Finally, why is a secular, sectarian, abjectly tiny minority (2 m Alawites out of 22 m Syrians), dictatorial regime, with highly skewed Aquida (creed) deserving of Islamic Iran's approval and protection?
It appears to me that Iran is finally facing a fitnah (trial) truly testing its righteousness.
The decision not to make a WMD was and is yet another such trial for Iran. I believe that if it is not bluffing then Iran has truly understood the nature of Jihad-al-Saghirah (the Lesser Struggle) and has passed it with flying colors.
Failure to have a really friendly relationship with Azerbaijan, in spite of its current inhospitability is inexcusable. If Russia and China could be befriended by Iran, then why not befriend Azerbaijan?
The Prophet (pbuh) was asked not to be a manager of people's affairs, but be simply a warner and bearer of good news to them. Is there guidance here for the Islamic leaders of the great Iranian nation?
Dr. Shafi A. Khaled is a freelance writer. He teaches and does research in Business & Economics.