Friday, May 6, 2011

"apostasy from God"

A question generated by Usama bin Laden's killing is does this mean the end of combat operations in Afghanistan? If so, then the troops can either be sent home or redeployed elsewhere. The most likely scenario would seem to be some type of advising or constabulary role in Libya (as a side note, Qaddafi has to be very nervous after the news of UBL). But now a new specter has arisen.

Most of the news on Iran has focused on Ahmadinejad and his efforts to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Iran has also made several statements reasserting its ownership of the Persian Gulf. All of this would seem to indicate that Ahmadinejad was in a fairly strong position within Iran and was thus able to posture with the ability to execute if needed.

Now comes a story from The Guardian which sheds new light on the problems between Ahmadinejad and the cleric Ayatollah Khamenei. At first look, this would appear to be a predictable squabble between a bureaucrat and a theocrat. However, there is something even more surprising at the core of the two leaders problems.

Ahmadinejad believes the imminent return of the Hidden Imam Mahdi – the revered saviour of Shia Islam, whose reappearance is anticipated by believers in a manner comparable to that with which Christian fundamentalists anticipate the second coming of Jesus. Mahdi is believed to be the ultimate savior of mankind and the final Imam of the Twelve Imams. The Twelve Imams are the spiritual and political successors to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, in the Twelver branch of ShÄ«‘ah Islam.

The reaction by the Ayatollah and his supporters is to charge Ahmandinejad and his staff with sorcery. This means Iran could itself in the midst of an internal conflict as the Twelvers and Ayatollah battle for control of the country. If Iran has nuclear weapons, the winner would thus have control. A theocracy with nuclear weapons could become a major threat in the region. The US may end up in a conflict with Iran over an internal religious conflict.

Ahmadinejad allies charged with sorcery |The Guardian

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