Tehran and Islamic Fundamentalism: Facing Realities
The enthusiastic media response to the election of the “moderate” and “reformist” Hassan Rohani is reminiscent of the unrealistic drivel that greeted the Arab Spring. Indeed, there was perhaps greater justification for the misplaced optimism over the downfall of despotic Arab leaders than in the election of this mullah, one of eight candidates approved by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei from a pool of 686.
While Rohani is far more sophisticated than his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust denier who continuously called for Israel to be wiped off the map, he is no moderate. In the past, he sought to cover up Iranian nuclear development, and during the recent elections reiterated that he remains adamantly committed to Iran’s nuclear project. In 1999, he supported the brutal suppression of the Iranian student protest. As a member of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, he was also fully au fait with Iranian global terrorist attacks including the 1994 bombing at the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and injured hundreds of others. Rohani still unhesitatingly refers to Israel as the “little Satan.”
There are, in fact, grounds for believing that Rohani was the ayatollah’s preferred candidate, on the grounds that his appearance of moderation could ease Western sanctions and reduce the threat of military action.
Besides, there is no doubt that the ayatollah will continue to call the shots on this and all major policy issues. In 1997, Mohammad Khatami’s election on a reformist program was greeted as a turning point by the West, but merely resulted in stylistic changes, while the basic policies and structure of the radical Islamic regime remained unchanged.
Western leaders are already falling for the ploy: White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough referred to Rohani’s alleged “moderation” as “a potentially hopeful sign” and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton suggested that the president-elect, who will not be taking office until August, be granted time to appoint new negotiators.
U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western leaders, reluctant to resort to military action to prevent the Iranians from becoming a nuclear power, will likely use Rohani’s cosmetic moderation to justify indefinite “ongoing negotiations.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the international community “not to become caught up in wishful thinking and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program,” urging that Iran be judged by its actions and, if it continued to develop its nuclear program, that it be stopped by “any means.”
But, as we witnessed during the Arab Spring, a thin line divides naive optimism from delusion when the West grasps at straws to convince itself that Islamic fanaticism can be managed diplomatically.
While Israelis have now largely accepted the true nature of Islamic extremism, the Western world remains largely in denial. This is highlighted by the ongoing chant that “Islam is a religion of peace.”
All religions, including Christianity and Judaism, include texts which can be interpreted to justify violence and intolerance. However, while many, if not the majority, of Muslims seek to live in peace, today it is the Islamists who are empowered and are imposing their fanaticism, intolerance and violence on their own people and seeking to do likewise to those in the West.
There is no difference between extremist Shiite and Sunni millennial ideologies committed to violent global conquest. Their leaders all loathe the West, are pathologically anti-Semitic, and yearn for the global imposition of Shariah law. Most Westerners fail to internalize that these concepts represent the core values of the jihadi movement.
Although overall, the region is like a scorpions’ den in which Islamic fundamentalists reign supreme or are becoming stronger, there are variations. States with residual secular roots are less burdened with oppressive regimes. Thus Turkey is currently less oppressive than Iran, Saudi Arabia or Egypt, despite Recep Erdogan’s vicious anti-Israeli rhetoric designed to foster popularity in the Arab world. Some describe his regime as “Muslim Brotherhood light.” Nevertheless, Erdogan’s regime is becoming increasingly authoritarian, as evidenced by the recent brutal suppression of demonstrations, and the fact that Turkey has proportionately more journalists in jail than any other country.
Unfortunately, the West and the U.S. administration in particular continue to pursue a disastrous policy of appeasing the Islamists. Since Obama’s Cairo speech, his abandonment of Mubarak “to promote democracy,” and his outreach to Iran and rogue states, it has all been downhill.
Middle East specialist Barry Rubin even accuses the U.S. of entering into an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood — in all its pristine evil. Yet American liberals bury their heads in the sand, characterize Islamic fundamentalist leaders as “moderates,” and ignore the evil anti-Western, anti-Christian and anti-Semitic ideological foundations upon which the Islamist regimes are built.
Hamas is a direct offshoot of this poisonous network. President Mohammed Morsi is strengthening the Brotherhood’s control of Egypt and, despite the huge financial support he receives from the U.S., responds contemptuously to American concerns about increased human rights abuses. Tunisia’s Arab Spring has led to intensified repression. U.S. intervention on behalf of the anti-Gadhafi rebels in Libya culminated in the murder of its ambassador. Yemen is a breeding ground for al-Qaida, and in Afghanistan, the U.S. is engaging in direct negotiations with the murderous Taliban.
The long-standing bipartisan love affair between U.S. and Saudi Arabia has enabled the global export of Wahhabi ideology, resulting in the emergence of clusters of Islamic fundamentalists and even homegrown terrorists throughout the Western world. Yet exposure of wealthy Saudi Arabians exporting jihad is kept off the radar.
Of course, Syria represents the ultimate abomination where the obscene bestiality of Islamist barbarians is displayed in the atrocities perpetrated by Assad and the Shiites, backed by Iran and Hezbollah, as well as the Sunnis supported by the Saudis, Muslim Brotherhood factions and other extremists, including offshoots of al-Qaida.
Until now, the U.S. seems undecided whether to stand aside and enable the Iranian-backed Assad regime, which only two years ago it considered a potential ally, to annihilate its enemies, or to provide military support to Sunnis, including terrorist bodies like al-Qaida, that are likely to turn these weapons against the West. In the meantime, 100,000 Syrians have been butchered and if the conflict continues, many more will be killed in ethnic massacres.
In this constellation, if Iran becomes a nuclear power, it will either completely dominate the region or ignite a wild race among these unstable Islamic countries to also achieve nuclear status.
We invite disaster if we succumb to Iran’s timetable by remaining inactive following the election of a president who follows instructions from the bitterly fanatical Khamenei, who has never responded positively to any diplomatic overture.
It is no exaggeration to state that this situation impacts on the future of Western civilization. We in Israel are at the front line. Our role must be to persuade the world that confronting Iranian and Islamic fundamentalism is not merely an Israeli problem.
The challenge facing the West is no less critical than the battles fought to prevent Nazism and communism from achieving global domination. Democracies led by the U.S. must devise a realistic strategy including the option of employing force, to deter terror and efforts to undermine our social and democratic order.
This is no time for “hoping for the best.” It is a time for facing reality.
Isi Leibler’s website can be viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom and the Jerusalem Post.