President George Bush has hailed the new interim constitution in Iraq as a significant step forward in embracing democracy. Another president had the same vision of a Shiite state embracing democracy. The year was 1979, the state was Iran. Jimmy Carter had many reasons for confidence as he attempted to win the American people over, and become a two-term president.
The sun was, indeed, shining when on March 26, President Carter stood with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin to proclaim to the entire Middle East that peace had come. The polls were not very upbeat on March 26 for Ronald Reagan and his running mate, George H.W. Bush. That changed quickly.
Just four days later, on March 30, an ayatollah by the name of Khomeini united 90 percent of the population of Iran (Shiites) and birthed an Islamic state. Khomeini’s announcement was made on April Fool’s Day. He called it “The first day of God’s government.”
This would herald the end of the Carter era. Not only would this Shiite ayatollah destroy Carter’s visions of Middle East peace, he refused to order the release of the hostages taken during the attack on the American Embassy. To heap further shame on Jimmy Carter, the hostages would remain captives of the ayatollah’s Islamic state until Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president of the United States.
George Walker Bush is now facing his own crisis. He wants democracy for Iraq, yet he does not want the Shiite population to be in power. This is despite the fact that the Shiites control 62 percent of the country. Furthermore, the ayatollah to which the Iraqi Shiites look is a “grand ayatollah” – only one of five living today. More importantly, he has significant ties to Iran – he was born in Iran.
The greatest fear the United States has harbored for more than a decade is the unification of the Shiites of Iran and Iraq. For that reason, America refused to support the Shiites after they supported the United States during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. As a result, tens of thousands were slaughtered by Saddam Hussein.
With a mountainous border the length of the U.S.-Mexican border, and 10,000 Iranians a day legally entering Iraq, one can see the handwriting on the wall. Already, Iraq has restored trade, security, investments and diplomacy with Iran. In addition, pro-Shiite Hezbollah, one of the most violent terrorist organizations in the world operating from Lebanon, is now moving in the direction of the Shiite Iraqis.
The spin coming from Pennsylvania Avenue is that the interim constitution is making excellent progress, and defines democracy at work. Three times, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani has checkmated the United States. It is becoming quite obvious that the United States cannot make a decision in Iraq without his blessing. There is no question that Sistani knows it!
More than half of the Shiite population in the entire world lives in Iran and Iraq. Najef is the ayatollah’s center of operation, and one of the holiest Shiite sites in the world. Five of Muhammad’s direct descendants have been buried there. For 1,300 years Najef was the center of the Shiite world and the birthplace of the cult of martyrdom following the death of Muhammad’s son Husseini.
Now, not only is it extremely likely that Iraq will ultimately become a Shiite Islamic republic, but that Iraq will have significant ties to Iran. The U.S. has been attempting to avoid such a scenario for a very good reason: Such an event could become exceedingly more dangerous for America than was Saddam Hussein.
Beware of the Ides of March! America’s attempts at establishing a constitution are just an exercise in futility to the Grand Ayatollah. He is biding his time, knowing that Islam already has a constitution based on Islamic law – the Quran. It defines every aspect of Islamic law. The battle between church and state cannot be won in Iraq. No Islamic country has been able to separate the two.
President Sadat was assassinated because he tried in Egypt. One simple speech inspired by Jimmy Carter cost Sadat his life. Sadat challenged the Egyptian people to separate religion from government. The principal source of Islamic law, the “Sharia,” contains the rules by which the Muslim world and society are organized and governed. All Muslims believe that the Quran is the basis of the Sharia, and its specific provisions are to be scrupulously observed. Any attempt to do otherwise is considered treason.
In 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini argued that the Quran was the basis for all legislative and executive powers. This sparked the revolution that gave birth to virtually all the problems in the Middle East – from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, to the recruitment of thousands of Islamic terrorists to fight the invading force, to America’s ongoing war on terrorism.
Ayatollah Sistani represents the most significant political power America faces in the Middle East. The United States has reversed its plan to ratify a constitution before elections in an attempt to pacify Sistani. The U.S. has accepted Sistani’s demand that the U.N. be brought in to assess the feasibility of the elections, and Sistani pulled the plug on America’s interim constitution ceremony.
Sistani has no desire to allow Iraq to become a secular state. Neither does Iran, nor the petro-rich, family-owned corporations that have everything to lose if the ebola virus of democracy infects their countries. They fear the collapse of the last axis of dictatorships in the world (as did the Soviet Union), if America’s stealth weapon called democracy contaminates the region. Every attempt will be made to halt this in Iraq by empowering the Shiites to force an Islamic state, thus keeping the rest of the Middle East out of America’s crosshairs.
With over half of the world’s population of Shiites in Iran and Iraq, there is no doubt that this is more dangerous than anyone can comprehend. This could become a greater dilemma than Jimmy Carter faced in 1979. Fortunately, the groundwork has not been laid for it to happen overnight, as it did in ’79. It could take months or years before the concrete of an Islamic state hardens, Iraq forms an alliance with Iran, and the most dangerous threat to the Middle East and the world arises – a Shiite Islamic fundamentalist state at its worst.
The election to approve a constitution will be held in 2005.