Iran-Saudi nexus – the two make strange bedfellows


On “It’s 1989, but we are the Russians” by FT’s Gideon Rachman

For the western world, the “Arab spring” threatens to be a classic case of good news and bad news. The good news is that this is the Arab 1989. The bad news is that we are the Soviet Union.

An exaggeration? Certainly. But there is enough truth in the analogy to explain why both the US and the European Union are uneasy about revolutions that – on one level – promote core western values, such as democracy and individual rights.

The Spring of Arab revolutions cannot be compared to the breakup of Leninist/Soviet hold on Eastern Europe. Soviet states and Eastern Europe were millions of very enlightened people chained behind the Iron Curtain. I think this is a very average oversimplified analysis of a far serious nature of the beasts of Revolutionary Spring by Gideon Rachman.

Here in the Middle East, the long and dark shadow of the ‘Iron Curtain of ideology and despotism’ has unfortunately not left a cadre of millions of secular democratic enlightened minds looking for the chains to be broken so that they can join the world of free thinking.

No revolution process would be completed if the Middle East is not ready to break its chains from ideological underpinnings of political Islam; this ‘Dechristianisation’ is the most important factor to consider. The reason Americans kept mum in the case of military intervention in Bahrain was simple – it is the Saudi aversion towards ‘Shiite expansionism led by Iran’ in the peninsula. Popular will of Saudis to resist Shiite indoctrination of their neighbours would be opposed by masses. The US know well that hinterland of Nejd and Wahhabi/Saudi alliance alongside all the tribes agree on one domination that they will never accept the Shiite threat. This 1400-year-old schism is too far strong a reason for most of the Saudis to resist a reformation movement now. The threat they most worry about is Iran and its doctrine.

The revolutionary fervour petered in Saudi Arabia as soon as Bahraini Shiites demanded removal of Bahraini minority Sunni regime. The reform minded majority Saudi Sunnis soon realised that the ugly tentacles of this ‘Spring revolution’ may lead to succession of oil rich Eastern provinces. The internecine rivalries between Najdi tribes will remain subservient to Shiite threat. In Yemen that is not the case; Yeminis may be able to overthrow Saleh with no impact from Iranian indoctrination efforts. For Saudis the Sunni-Shiite divide is more powerful than any freedom that will usher as a result of this ‘Spring of Arabs.’

Presently Iranian/Arab world is not ready for enlightenment and ‘Dechristianisation’ process like that of France during the French Revolution and Civil Constitution of the Clergy.’ The French Revolution brought about a massive shifting of powers from the Roman Catholic Church to the state. Is the Arab world ready to take the powers of the clergy/Mullah away? If this happens, revolution in the Iranian/Arab world will be a real exclusive event. So far it is an uprising against entrenched dictators. Given the tendency of Islam to rely upon the strong man, one group of strongmen will be replaced by another. Probably that will be the nutshell of these revolutions in the Middle East. The revolutions also have distinctive character based on geography and culture. The Maghreb revolutions are different from Egyptian category and so will the Spring of Saudis and Iranians be. Iranians are ready to revolt against the ‘selected’ autocratic regime; they are 35 years ahead of any other Middle Eastern country, i.e., being incarcerated by the chains of ideology. Iranian spring is the most viable amongst all that we talk about; this uprising has the seeds and elements of Dechristianisation i.e. a revolt against the Islamic republic.

Iran is one country that is ripe for a real revolution, lock stock and barrel, it is possibly the revolt against Mullahcracy. A modern post-revolution Iran will be a secular Iran. Ahmadinejad can only stir that much trouble in Bahrain, Iranians really don’t want a Bahraini revolution that may trigger a mass Shiite reform-based uprising.

A revolution of Shiites in Bahrain will encourage a revolution across the streets of Tehran; much as Iran wants the trouble in Bahrain to multiply, they want this spring of freedom to be choked as soon as possible, as these revolutions are the Iranian mullahs’ worst nightmare. The slide of Iran cannot be arrested by half measures of a ‘lesser dose of religion,’ rather, an eradication campaign aimed at revolution to be democratic and freedom akin to the passage of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen! Ex radical Musavi cannot deliver this; he does not have the credentials. And any revolution led by reactionaries who perpetrate continuity of ‘doctrine and faith’ that has lost all significance will just fade away or result in Robespierre and the Jacobinians’ anarchy.

Iranian revolution will be a modern revolution, may be even demanding a secular state whenever it may come. Until such time, Iranians and Saudis are well placed to contain their own populace by proxy wars in Bahrain. Iranian/Saudi nexus makes them, without realizing it, strange bedfellows; both are anaemic to the idea of reform and revolution that would bring a change of direction and thinking, any status quo that multiplies ignorance, debauchery, depravity and transgression is ideal spring for both the nations.

A modern Iranian revolution will lead to an Iran that will be less threatening; in turn a lesser amount of evil posturing by Iran will encourage the reformists in Saudi to stir troubles. At the moment the reformists have gone on the back foot and Iranian/Saudi preoccupation with their ideologies has won the day. The ‘Spring’ has withered due to ideological expediencies of the Middle East. Iran needs Saudis to crush the Bahraini revolution and Saudi need Iran to maintain its jingoistic posture. That balance keeps both sides happy and well installed.

Revolutions are inspired by prophets of ‘Enlightenment.’ Until Iranian/Arab enlightened philosophers are brought ahead of the sacred writings no ‘revolt’ is possible. Revolutions only succeed when a society is able to embrace new realities. If society chooses to live in space of decadence and old thought, any revolution will only be a tool to accelerate its descent to ignominy and disasters. Iranian Islamic Revolution is one great example of that permanent decline where 5000-year old cradle of civilisation lost its significance and primary important status of intellectual greatness to some ruffians and radical louts.

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