The Rise of Iran and the Shi’a State

Muslim Matters

The Rise of Iran and the Shi’a State

By Geoffrey Cook, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Berkeley–August 29th–Darius Zahedi was one of three participants in the first of an ambitious series of programs, which will address the foreign policy challenges facing the next American President whoever he may be. The pragmatic schedule is projected through the 2008 elections.

Darius Zahedi began his comments “Iran and [its] Shia [brothers] have increased [their influence] geo-politically.” These considered words, have much to put the comments last week of the Presidents of Iran and the United States in context. The Chief Executive of that Islamic Republic stated only that Iran was capable of filling in the vacuum that would develop when the States will withdraw. Bush responded in his cowboy manner with a threat that his commanders on the ground in Mesopotamia act in an aggressive manner against Tehran. That night our armed forces picked up several Iranian professionals there to consult over the redevelopment of the homeland of the Two Rivers, who were there at the invitation of Baghdad, and paraded them through the streets of the occupied capital tethered together. In the morning, when the District of Columbia was caught with “egg on its face,” they were released.

The U.S. has done the Farsi a great favor by toppling their two worst (neighboring) enemies – Iraq and the Taliban! Unfortunately, the NeoCons (Neo-Conservatives) have had control over Washington’s foreign policy during these Baby Bush years. Their plans and concepts regarding the Middle East have been quite mired and ill thought out. Awhile back, the Persians had made overtures to the United States to back down from most of the charges made against them with little asked in return, but D.C. snubbed their letter by filing it in the “circular file.”

Our Administration’s grossest incompetence can be seen in Iraq and Kabul. Our errors empowered that considerable power between the two. The United States of America is responsible for the expansion of their (Iran’s) sway. Domestically, our War along the Tigris and Euphrates forced the price of oil up – especially in the West — which helped Iran gain grateful friends in distress – like the Palestinians – which won them allies in their geographical locality of the Middle East.

Yet their success is built on a fragile domestic foundation. The population has doubled since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The current unemployment rate — over all the nation’s ethnic groups — is extremely serious; thus, forty percent of the population is below the poverty line. Inflation has been running at 25-30%. The Farsis as a whole are extremely well educated groups. Yet a World Bank Report finds them to have the worst brain drain in the world!

The U.S encircles Iran militarily. Tehran is vulnerable to attack at any time and place by the U.S.A. Therefore, Tehran has developed an asymmetrical deterrence that includes a nuclear game plan. (In many ways, though, Israel – the fifth largest nuclear nation in the world — is as dangerous a foe to them as we are – possibly more so.)

To understand the domestic discontent, we should look at a few figures. Shiites represents 70% of the people around the area about the Gulf, and 50% of the Middle East itself. Yet the partisans of Ali have been disenfranchised even though they formed a majority within their own territories. “There are a number of factors that impede Shia solidarity” and domination. The greatest impediment to the Shiites in exerting their rights as a majority about the Gulf is the contemporary ruling Sunni Post-Colonial States.

In Iran, after the Revolution there was a thorough regime change, but the traditional infrastructure of the State remained. The Shia/Arab divide damages Shiite solidarity. Also, this fractures the State itself. (Iran has considerable Arab minorities, too, that are consolidated in one large area.)

All the Shiites in Iraq depend upon support from Iran – moreover militarily, materially and morally. If the United States withdraws, the Shiites will have to depend upon their co-religionists across their Western border.


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