Ahmadinejad & Co. starring in Armageddon
If one were to listen to his rhetoric alone, even the most astute political intellectuals would think Iran is a nation equipped with the most dangerous military arsenal capable of hallenging any nation. But IranÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rhetoric has little to do with their outdated and dismal military, their fledging economy or their detested government. The root of the governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fiery tone may be traced to their ShiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢te ideology messianic belief in a mysterious, mystical twelfth imam who ventured into hiding over a thousand years ago.
The Hidden Imam is a central concept in the teachings of ShiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢te Islam. Born Muhammad al-Mahdi he ventured into a cave in 941 AD hidden by a gate called the Gate of Occultation. The doctrine of Occultation professes Allah aided the cloaking of the Imam away from the eyes of man so that he could be kept alive until his return. ShiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢tes believe that the Twelfth Imam will return to lead the religious battle between good and evil when the world has become consummately nefarious.
According to ShiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢te orthodoxy humans may not force or hasten the return of the Imam, but the Hojjateiehs a group of which Ahmadinejad is a member, opine that humans may stir up chaos to encourage his return. With his recent rhetoric vowing for the destruction of Israel, demanding deportation of the Jews to Europe and denying the Holocaust that the President seems to be doing just that. In fact, his messianic axiom of the Twelfth Imam and the ubsequent suppression of the forces of evil [modern day US, UK, Israel and many other nations] is central to AhmadinejadÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s foreign policy. The Iranian governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s official policy has undercut efforts of the international community by rejecting a United Nations deadline to suspend IranÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nuclear program, threatening to quit the Non-Proliferation Treaty and vying that Ã¢â‚¬Å“nothing can stop IranÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s path to nuclear technology.Ã¢â‚¬Â In anticipation of a stand off with the West Iran recently clinched agreements with eight different Middle East insurgency groups to carry out suicide attacks against Israeli, British and US interests across the world. Ironically this plan is called Ã¢â‚¬ËœJudgment Day.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢
During a private meeting with an Iranian cleric in November Ahmadinejad claimed that while giving a speech before the United Nations he felt Ã¢â‚¬Å“the atmosphere change and for 27 to 28 minutes the leaders did not blinkÃ¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“they were astonished.. it had opened their eyes and ears to the Islamic Republic.Ã¢â‚¬Â He further said that he felt the hand of God upon him as he delivered his omniscient speech. In his egocentric fantasy world the Iranian President likely sees himself as a deputy of the Imam with a divine mission to encourage his arrival. His references to the Imam in conjunction with threats to wipe countries off the face of earth should be taken seriously.
Foreign policy experts should examine the Islamic Republic from both a political and religious perspective. To the clerical regime the return of the Imam is not a mere possibility, but a surety. Their attitude towards the international community seems to point at their preparation for that day.
International concerns aside, there are domestic reasons for the regimes erratic behavior. After 27 years of executions, floggings, stoning, oppression of political dissent, violation of womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rights, oppression of religious minorities, the largest brain drain in the world, rampant prostitution, crime, drug use and mass unemployment the Islamic Republic is domestically quite loathed. In fact, recent student polls show that close to eighty five percent of the population supports fundamental democratic changes in the regime. Iranian students have consistently poured into the streets in pro-Democracy protests only to be violently suppressed, jailed, tortured and often murdered. But, dictatorships can only oppress for so long and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only a matter of time before Iran explodes in a pro-Western democratic revolution. The regime knows that the only way they can leave any kind of legacy is by invoking nationalistic pride by pushing the country into another war and unlike the Iran-Iraq war this time theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re paving the way for the return of the Twelfth Imam.
From challenging the world to enhancing IranÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nuclear programs every issue is implemented for the arrival of Mahdi. The Islamic Republic is not vying for war because theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re too arrogant to understand they will be crushed. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re vying for war because they believe Mahdi will return to help them defeat the United States and others who dare stand up to them. Ahmadinejad and CompanyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Armageddon may be coming to a theater near you and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s probably the scariest movie weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll ever see unless we aggressively invest in the overthrow of the regime before itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s debut appearance.
Slater Bakhtavar is president and founder of Republican Youth of America, a frequent commentator and respected analyst on foreign policy issues, and an attorney with a post-doctoral degree in International law.