By Dr Shahid Qureshi -:
The recent attacks on the Saudi Arabian Oil fields have increased tensions in the region specially when claims are being made that Iranian weapons have been used in these attacks. On the other hand, if one says actually ‘Iran is US’s most benefiting ally in the region, it will not be wrong completely. The US invasion of Iraq eliminated the Saddam Hussain’s regime, formed Shia led Government which killed him and shouted, ‘Muqtada Muqtada at his hanging, to which he (Saddam) objected and told them ‘to be decent’. On the other side US invasion of Afghanistan eliminated ‘Taliban Government’ which Iran considered enemy at the time. In return Iran allowed Indian contractors use its borders and ports to build road from Herat to Chabhar Post as an alternative NATO supply route. US and Iran are on the same page from Afghanistan to Syria as one must read the small print.
This Micky Mouse Circus between US and Iran is going on for sometimes and if US wanted to ‘sort out Iran’, it would have done it long time ago’. The reality is that both Hizbullah and Iran are keeping many regional players in the limits including Saudi Arabia and Israel to say the least. Remember Shah of Iran was the closest and planted ally of the West and US, so what was it Shah not doing that he was to be replaced by the France (Paris) based Imam Khomieini, who arrived in Air France special plane in Tehran?
A foreign journalist based in London called me in almost panic asking to have a quick meeting, so we had a dinner in central London: ‘he asked me, “will Israel and US attack Iran’? I said to him: ‘USA and its proxy arms dealer Israel will never attack Iran as long as they have Iranian born President and defence minister in Israel, and Jews in the Iranian parliament’. If US was serious in destroying Iran it would have done it long time ago, but Iran, US and Israel have close historical relations which cannot be ignored. Millions of Iranian Jews live in Israel, Europe, USA and are in high positions as well as they celebrate ‘Navuriz’ more enthusiastically than their religious events.
Moreover, US has surrounded Iran from all sides with its bases and military influence and presences in, Afghanistan, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Qatar and now Oman has offered a naval base to USA. On the other hand, Iran has handed over its Chabahar Port to India to station its military as well as provided a trading port for the afghan goods.
Late Indian foreign minister Shusma Sawraj while in Uzbekistan following US Silk Road plan offered Central Asian countries a rail network connecting Iranian Chabahar port and provided an alternative Chinese Belt and Road plan.
Iran has approximately over 300000 Jews living there for centuries as Pakistan has about 5000 Pakistani Jews voters according to election commission record and Azerbaijan about 30000 Azeri Jews. The reality is Pakistanis, Iranians, Morocco or Turkish don’t have any history of being anti Jews or antisemitism. It is very European thing rather Muslims have always protected their minorities from Spain to Europe.
With regards to Pakistan obviously, Iranians have chosen to form a military and economic alliance with India.
Iran has annual trade of over $30 billion with India and with brotherly Pakistan less than $2 billion apart from having over 700 miles border. Iran buys Basmati rice from India when Pakistan produce the best Basmati in the world.
Iran sold gas to Pakistan at a very high rate of $14 MMBTU when market price was $3 MMBTU and now refusing to review the agreement. It was signed by President Zardari.
Like Pakistan, Iran did same thing to the brotherly Azerbaijan. Iran has very close relations and business ties with Armenia like it has with India apart from Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories in Nagorno – Karabakh. Armenians has committed genocide part two in Khojaly where it killed men, women and children. Iran got upset and complained of violation of freedom of speech with Azerbaijan an over 80% Shia country, when it arrested some individuals return from Syria last year.
On the other hand, Pakistan does not recognise Armenia and support Azerbaijan at all forums. Pakistani people will not hesitate to join their Azeri brothers in case of any conflict with Armenia and specially their experience in beating the Russians would be useful, and why not if European, British and American Jews can join Israeli forces so can Pakistanis or others.
Pakistani Government and especially GHQ must review and made security policy of Zero Tolerance and no compromise on Pakistan’s national interests when it comes to the activities of the politicians and officials becoming spokespersons of other countries including Iran. Pakistan must start oil and gas exploring in whole Baluchistan ‘where a silent moratorium was placed by some pro Iran elements’ within establishment. Pakistan did not do meaningful oil and gas exploring in Baluchistan border areas with Iran since 1947?
The recent bombings and killings of 14 Pakistani soldiers in Baluchistan in April 2019 with the orders of Iranian Republican Guards. This could be linked to oil and gas exploring. Pakistan presented all the evidence technical and electronic of Iranian involvement to the leadership during visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan last week. Iranian leadership at this sacked its IRG Major General Jaffary.
Pakistan has been very soft with Iran and dealt with it delicately even after the arrests of Indian RAW agent commander Kubhushan Yadave and presence of six operational RAW directorates in Iran. No one should take kindness as weakness of Pakistan.
Iran like Armenia has chosen India as its partner apart from Indian Amy’s brutal killings in Indian held Kashmir, demolishing of Babri Masjid and genocide of Muslims in Gujrat.
I was called to comment on Iranian national channel Press TV when Iranian president signed agreement of handing over of Chabahar Port to India in Delhi: ‘I said that India is a country which is fanning Shia-Sunni sectarianism in Pakistan’.
The Iranian president spoke about Israeli atrocities in Palestine but did not mention a word about Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir. Therefore, all is not moral and ethically up to the preached standards in the Iranian foreign policy.
The good thing about Iranian smartness is that they have been able to ‘develop a powerful pro Iran Shia lobby free of cost in media, bureaucracy and academia mostly are from 3% Shia population’. Iranian made a strategic move and have bought in ‘Brelavee – Sunni’ as anti-Saudi elements due to Shia being in small numbers in Pakistan to look big. Pakistani media and Finance are like those two horses who got stolen by minority mafia and no agency have a clue about this, as it is unbelievable?
Pakistan is not a Sunni State by its constitution, but Iran is a declared Shia State by Iranian constitution and that makes Pakistan leader among the Muslim World.
Iran is a Shia State according to Article 12 of its constitution on the other hand Pakistan is Islamic Republic and its constitution does not specify which ‘fiqah’ (Islamic code of Jurisprudence) to follow as all are equal and has same rights.
Article 12 of the Iranian constitution States:
“The official religion of Iran is Islam and the Twelver Ja’fari school [in usual al-Din and fiqh], and this principle will remain eternally immutable…”
The other stumbling block in making peace among the Arab states and Iran is it following of the ideology of ‘Velyat-e-Fiqh’, which almost brings all the Shias in the world under the command of Iranian leader Imam Khomeinie. This exporting of Iranian revolution caused tensions in the Arab states and some African Muslim countries. That is the ideology behind Iranian forces fighting in Syria including five thousand Pakistani Shias and Yemen although some people believes that Russians have guaranteed Israel that they will keep Iranians three miles away from the borders. Some people believe that: “Iran was deliberately dragged into Syria and Yemen to full fill the US agenda of New Middle East, otherwise it is impossible for Iranians to cross in Syria via US occupied Iraq and supply arms to Yemeni rebels by ships by-passing the US Navy?
The support Pakistan receives from Saudi Arabia is enormous and there is no question about the brilliant relations between the two. However, Pakistan also wishes to improve relations with Iran both economic and political, but fact of the matter is that Iran also need to improve relations with Pakistan, simply calling brotherly Islamic county is not enough’.
Iranian Channel Press TV called me in February 2018, to comment on the handing over ceremony of the Chabhar Port to India in Delhi by the Iranian President. I said: “India is responsible to fanning sectarian violence in Pakistan as well killings of Muslims in Gujrat and Kashmir.” Sadly, the Iranian President only mentioned Palestine in his Friday speech and probably forgot to mention Kashmiri occupation and killings by the Indians”.
I said HE Hamid Baeidinejad Ambassador of Iran to United Kingdom at Kazakhstan National Day Reception in London last year, “the fact of the matter is that Iran’s trade with India is over $30 billion a year and trade with Pakistan is less than $2 billion although it has 700 km land and sea border. How can relationship improve between the two countries”? He very kindly invited me for a coffee which I have yet to avail.
For example, Tahir ul Qadri’s whole set up is run by Iran and agencies from 5 I’s countries. Following traditions of Zulifqar Ali Bhutto and Sikandar Mirza, ‘Tahir ul Qadri is also reportedly married to an Iranian woman”, according to senior journalist based in Halifax, United Kingdom. His political wing PAT merged with Shia leader Agha Murtaza Poya’s political party already.
Pro Iran Shia lobby in Pakistan following the Turkish ‘Gulen Network’s strategy of buying out media and influence the national narrative by inducting it agents by cheating exams, in military, police, judiciary, schools, law enforcement.
FIA has recently busted a high-ranking Shia officers’ network who was providing CSS exam papers to Shia candidates hours before exams for over two decades.
However, no serious action has taken so far by Pakistan’s national agencies for this grave security breach. These people need to polygraphed and jailed. Turkey has dismissed over 35500 officials in military, police, judiciary and law enforcement agencies since 2016.
To understand why US will not attack Iran it is important to understand why western favourite Shah was removed and Paris based Imam Khomeini was supported and brought in by Air France to topple Shah’s rule.
Iran had its own Royal family of Ahmed Raza Shah Phelvi installed by the US after the overthrow of democratic government of Prime Minister Mohammed Musdaq. “On August 19, 1953, the military, backed by street protests organized and financed by the CIA, overthrew Mossadeq. The Shah quickly returned to take power and, as thanks for the American help, signed over 40 percent of Iran’s oil fields to U.S. companies”.
In his 1981 book, “Hostage to Khomeini,” journalist Robert Dreyfuss says that the Club of Rome, the Aspen Institute, and other elite think tanks conspired to take out the Shah and undo his modernization plans for Iran which they saw as a threat to their power and control over the region. Dreyfuss wrote:
“The mullahs did not come to rule in Iran on the basis of their own power; they were placed in power by men more evil than they – who would use the depravity of backwardness for their own ends…’
Dr. Ronen Bergman, an Israeli investigative journalist and author of the 2008 book, ‘The Secret War with Iran,’ says that the BBC put Khomeini on a public pedestal and amplified his voice, making his brand of Islamic revolution the only alternative option to the Shah’s rule.
British journalist Ed West interviewed Bergman in June 2009 about his views, and quoted a passage from Bergman’s book in his article, “How the BBC helped bring the Ayatollah to power”:
In the book he writes: “Another propaganda tool for Khomeini was none other than the Persian-language broadcasts of the British Broadcasting Corporation. The channel gave him a platform. His regular broadcasts made him the unchallenged leader of the Iranian revolutionary movement.”
When we met in a west London hotel not far from the notorious Iranian embassy, Bergman pointed out: “The BBC gave free hours of free broadcast to Khomeini from Paris. It is unbelievable. Every time there is a person who is fighting ‘royal’ forces, in the sense of their being autocratic, the BBC gives them a free hand and carte blanche, without trying to understand what their views are.
Bergman is not some loony conspiracy theorist who is on the margins of Israeli society. He is a “member of the Israeli Bar, holds a M.Phil. degree in international relations, and was awarded a PhD by University of Cambridge for his dissertation about the Israeli Mossad, the first ever on that subject, written under the supervision of the esteemed Professor Christopher Andrew, chairman of the History Faculty,” (source: Wikipedia).
Bergman’s views about the BBC’s role in stirring up Iran’s Islamic Revolution are well documented.
Perhaps the factors mentioned above: “Mohammad Reza Pahlavi himself asserted that, “If you lift up Khomeini’s beard, you will find MADE IN ENGLAND written under his chin,” in the later days of his reign as monarch”.
The Hidden Hand: Middle East Fears of Conspiracy, Daniel Pipes, page 80
For the reasons and factors mentioned above while talking on the Iranian state television Press TV program ‘The Debate – Hajj Tragedy’, 24th September 2015, I (Dr Shahid Qureshi) said:
“This is not a time to get into blame game and do politics on this tragedy and Saudis should not feel ashamed asking for help from other Muslim countries like Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Indonesia for crowd management and training of hajjis before the event after all they have whole year to prepare’.
Having said that according to Saudi Press Agency: “from 1980 over 70 million Muslims have performed Hajj in Saudi Arabia sadly approximately 5000 people died while doing Hajj which is 0.00007% ratio. But that still does not justify the complicity on behalf of the Saudi Government”.
The US and allies’ forces supporting Shias fighting with Sunnis in Iraq are supporting Sunnis in Syria fighting with minority Shia dominated regime of Bashar Al-Asad.
Many analysts believe that Iranian policy of supporting Shia sectarian elements in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen and Saudi Arabia is largely damaging the interests of Muslim countries. That has made former Afghan Prime Minister Gulbadin Hakamat Yar who said: “Iranian policy of supporting Shia sect and sectarianism in Iraq and Afghanistan has damaged interests of Muslims over all the world”.
To counter these divisive elements who are damaging the state of Pakistan by hate speech against the holy personalities of Islam, wives and caliphs of the Islam strict legislation must be enforced. The derogatory and abusive coded language and insinuations hurled toward 2nd Caliph Umar and wife of the Prophet of Islam leave no space to negotiate. One can say that in actual fact users “BULB 365 Code” are responsible for sectarian violence in Muslim World.
I spoke to Iranian scholar Ayataullah Al-Araqi in Astana, Kazakhstan October 2018 and 9th June 2015 on this issue and he understood, what I am talking about. You know what I am talking about? People have seen Shia zakirs abusing Hazart Ayesha (RA), Caliph Umar (RA) and others openly. Is it acceptable? Obviously not. How would you feel if someone abuse your mother in public? It will be provocative and surely one will be upset?
This Shia – Sunni sectarian policy has international approvals from so called friends and enemies of Pakistan. Pakistan is predominantly a Sunni country with its less than 3% Shia population enjoying religious harmony and strong bond. There are 380 Shia madrassas in Pakistan as compare to approximately over 30,000 Sunni Madrassas.
Shias of Pakistan dominates media especially, finance and all other areas which made Khurshid Kasuri foreign minister of Pakistan say to his Iranian counterpart: “Shias of Pakistan are not like Sunnis in Iran”.
He pointed to a Pakistani official with him and said: ‘he is a Shia and very high officer’. Iranians has the liberty to infiltrate in Pakistani Shia clergy and officials, journalists, media anchors who religiously toe the Iranian lines and ignoring Pakistani national interests.
One must understand Pakistan economic and strategic interests. Over 2 million Pakistanis are working in Saudi Arabia and about 3 million in Sunni countries in Gulf and UAE and only about 25000 in Iran. Pakistani economic and strategic interests lie predominantly in the Sunni world which cannot ignored due to sectarian policies of Iran based on ‘Velyat-e-Fiqh’ controlling Shias of other countries including Saudi Arabia. Iraqi Arab Shia leadership, however, do not approve of this ideology and have close ties with Saudi Arabia and their leadership had meetings with Saudi leadership.
Zafar Hashmi wrote on 11th January 2005, article, “The Shia Strategy in Iraq and Pakistan’:
“The two most repressive governments from the Shia point of view i.e. the government of Taleban and the regime of Saddam Hussein have disappeared. He wrote, ‘The only way to prevent suicide bombings is through intelligence gathering of the enemy or in other words we have to infiltrate SSP and keep an eye on their activities. If some of our brothers join and infiltrated SSP or LJ then we can keep track of their activities and plans. Any intelligence that we gather on SSP or LJ can be simply passed to the Pakistani security agencies who are closely working with the Americans. In this way we neither have to kill, attack, injure, or hurt anybody. All we are doing is passing the information and the rest is done by the agencies themselves.
It is about time we drop the slogan of ‘Death to America ‘once and for all. We haven’t achieved anything through such hollow slogans. We should stop living in this Utopia and face the reality. It is time we close the foreign front against America and concentrate on the local enemy whose sole aim is the destruction of the Shias in Pakistan.
Iranian origin Professor Vali Nasr (son of Hussain Nasr) of US Naval Academy, while addressing at a program on ‘America and Islam after Bush’, organised by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life on 8 December 2008 said,
“Post-Saddam Iraq is the first Shia Arab state in history. That represents a major turning of the tide. What the U.S. did in Iraq was to show a path to empowerment for the Shia, first through regime change and secondly through elections”.
The News reported on 28th July 2008, that (mostly Shia), “The Hazaras in Quetta have been targeted repeatedly in the past. They suffered casualties which have been sectarian and ethnic biased”. It is reported that the Americans are using Shia Hazars as interpreters in Afghanistan against Taliban and that could have led to attacks on them?
The use of Shias as collaborators is nothing new in the history. Both Mir Sadaiq who betrayed Tipu Sultan and Mir Jafar, who betrayed Sirajudullah in the Battle of Plassy in Bengal, supported and collaborated with British invaders were Shias. Fall of Bengal was the key to the 200 years British rule in India? Historically, “Vengeful Shiites volunteered help to the Mongols in Mosul and other places along their march. The caliph’s vizier, or chief minister, was himself a Shiite of uncertain loyalty. Islamic opinion afterward held that the vizier, al-Alkamzi, vilely betrayed the caliph and conspired with the Mongols; an exhortation in Muslim schoolbooks used to say, “Let him be cursed of God who curses not al-Alkamzi.” As fighting began, Hulagu, acknowledging the importance of Shiite support, prudently posted guard detachments of a hundred Mongol horsemen at the most sacred Shiite shrines in Najef and Karbala”, wrote Ian Frazier April 25, 2005 in The New Yorker.
“Iran may be bombastic, but Pakistan has the Bomb”, wrote Douglas Bloomfield in The Jerusalem Post on 3rd September 2008, “Iran may boast of great strides in its pursuit of nuclear, missile and satellite technology, but analysts say its progress is no match for its overblown rhetoric. But Pakistan doesn’t need to boast. It already has a stockpile estimated at 60 or more nuclear warheads and North Korean ballistic missiles and US-made F-16s to deliver them.”
No country should take sides on the basis of religious beliefs because Shias and Sunnis co-existed for hundreds of years all it required is to save themselves from abuse and keep their house in order? No doubt there would be minor religious tensions but internationalising them is like asking for trouble?
Finally, chances of US attacks on Iran are not imminent because Iran is nicely following the US policy and providing excuses to intervene in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and scaring the Arabs to buy arms from USA in billions of dollars On the other hand, Israel is keeping its public under control by scaring them from Iran and Hizballah in Lebanon. If it is not for US military support Israeli occupying forces and regime will not survive for long and may run off to Europe and Russia.
That’s why US has reportedly advised, ‘Israel not to mess with Pakistan via India as we have seen their abilities and capabilities in Afghanistan, including presence of Al-Zaiboon Brigade of over 5000 Pakistani fighters in Syria at your doorstep’.
(Dr Shahid Qureshi is senior analyst with BBC and chief editor of The London Post. He writes on security, terrorism and foreign policy. He also appears as analyst on Al-Jazeera, Press TV, MBC, Kazak TV (Kazakhstan), LBC Radio London. He was also international election observer for Azerbaijan 2018, Kazakhstan 2019, 2016 and 2015 and Pakistan 2002. He has written a famous book “War on Terror and Siege of Pakistan” published in 2009. He wrote his MA thesis on ‘Political Thought of Imam Khomeini’ and visited Tehran University. He is PhD in ‘Political Psychology’ also studied Law at a British University. He also speaks at Cambridge University and visiting professor in Hebe University in China)
Views expressed are not of The London Post.