Iranian defeat first

Neutralizing the mullah regime in the Islamic Republic is pivotal to any peace negotiations in the Middle East, not the other way around.

By BY TAWFIK HAMID
February 14, 2010 21:56
3 minute read.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

ahmadinejad 58. (photo credit: AP)

 
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In a recent Op-ed piece published in Haaretz, A.B. Yehoshua argued that Israeli-Palestinian peace would neutralize the Iranian threat. Deep analysis of the Iranian issue and its impact on several Islamic movements actually supports the opposite of that assumption. In other words, defeating the Iranian regime is pivotal to solving the Arab-Israeli conflict rather than the other way around.

Whether we want to believe it or not, the main obstacle to the conflict is the widespread radical Islamic views that promote hatred of Jews in the Muslim world. It is rather difficult – or virtually impossible – to have real peace in the area while leading Islamic scholars teach that Jews are pigs and monkeys and that Muslims must fight and annihilate them before the end days. Defeating Islamism is therefore fundamental to changing these anti-Semitic views among Muslims. Indeed, it is undeniable that almost all suicide bombings against the Jews are typically conducted by Arab Muslims rather than by Arab Christians or followers of other faiths.

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Radical Islamic movements that promote violent Jihad instead of peaceful solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict were both inspired and supported by the Islamic revolution in Iran in several ways. The success of the Iranian Islamic revolution to replace a secular regime with an Islamic system was – and still is – in the view of Islamic radicals, an applicable model that encouraged many people to pursue the path of Islamism, as it was in their view a successful model to achieving power.

Defeating the Iranian regime and proving its failure is vital to discrediting it in the eyes of the followers of radical Islamic movements, thus weakening their interest in pursuing radical Islamism as a path. Furthermore, defeating the mullah regime can partially deprive some of its affiliated militant organizations, such as Hamas and Hizbullah, who resist peace with Israel on a religious basis, from their financial support. This can cause an economic blow to these organizations and open the path for less radical political players to have more leadership roles in the area.

IN ADDITION, defeating the regime can bring an end to the inflammatory role played by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinehad for followers of radical Islamic organizations who see him as a hero, because he threatens Israeli security. Typically, Ahmadinejad is seen by them as the next ‘Saladin’ who will bring victory to Islam over the ‘infidels.’

Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric, which contains threats of erasing Israel from the map, gives the radicals a false hope for victory over the Jews and thus continuously adds fuel to the fire regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. Defeating him and changing him from a symbol of victory to an example of weakness can play a vital role in the psychological warfare needed to weaken Islamic radicalism.

When we know that hundreds of Iranians boys, many as young as ten years old, were sent to die on the front lines of the Iranian war with Iraq and that the founder of the Iranian Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, gave these boys plastic keys to heaven and reassured them that if they were killed on the battlefield they will go directly to paradise, it becomes mandatory to defeat such a crazy regime and prevent it by all means necessary from getting a nuclear weapon.

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Such a weapon in the hands of such a regime does not only carry a major threat to the security of the free world but also empowera a psychological sense of victory for radical Islamic organizations, encouraging them to resist any peaceful solution with Israel.

Trying to have Israeli-Arab peace before neutralizing the Iranian threat will not be effective, as Islamic regimes usually mutate and will always find reasons to hate the ‘other’ and use violence. In fact, this approach will only buy more time for the mullah regime in Iran to achieve its nuclear ambitions.

Defeating the Iranian regime first and ending its ambitions of having nuclear weapons capabilities can weaken radical Islamic movements and open the door for actual peace in the Middle East.

The writer is an Islamic thinker and reformer, and one-time Islamic extremist from Egypt. He was a member of a terrorist Islamic organization JI with Dr. Ayman Al-Zawaherri, who later became the second in command of al-Qaida. He is currently a senior fellow and chairman of the study of Islamic radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

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