By Bill Collier- Iran is succeeding in waging war against its neighbors and regional powers by using proxy forces in multiple theaters who will do Tehran's bidding. It is also dominating three Arab governments, including Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon in its apocalyptic vision of being a regional and then a global hegemon.
(See author's post on Freedomist about this subject)
While Arab and Sunni powers are waking up to the ambitions of the Iranian regime, the battle lines are not simply Sunni versus Shia or Persians versus Arabs: the true fault line is between Salafist fascism on one hand and modern day Islam on the other hand. The Salafo-fascist ideology is adaptable to both Sunni (e.g. ISIS and Al Qaeda) and Shia (e.g. Iran and Hezbollah) devotees. The basis of the ideology is anti-capitalism, anti-democracy, a strongman leadership, male chauvanism, and an apacolyptic dream of world dominion. The forced practice of Islamic law, as interpreted in the Salafist (originalist/literalist) tradition and in the strictest terms is the ultimate end goal of all forms of Salafo-fascism. Salafo refers to the Salafist base, while fascism refers to its anti-capitalist, anti-democracy, and strongman governing model by which this Salafism is imposed.
It is a misnomer to simply use the term "Islamist" or even "radical Islamist", at least from a technical perspective- a "radical Islamist" could be someone who is quite harmless to others because they simply "radically" follow all the ethical preachments of modern Islam, especially according to the later, and more enlightened, later Surras. But not naming the ideology whose adherents are waging war on all non-Salafists, be they Muslim or Christian or whatever, is also a big mistake.
The battle lines are complicated because the Sunni-Shia rift is the largest among Salafists. Shia and Sunni Salafists loathe one another more than they loathe non-Salafists, chiefly because they see one another as ideological rivals.
In the Muslim world there appears to be a waking up to the threat of Salafo-fascism, although even here the battle lines are somewhat blurred. For instance, Saudi Arabia is happy to wage war on Shia and even Sunni Salafists, but the Saudi regime is a Salafo-fascist regime mitigated in its radicalism only by Arab tribes which are moving away from Wahabism, the Saudi version of Salafo-fascism. This often places the Muslim powers in league with Saudi Arabia, whose ideology those same powers find alarming. The foray into Yemen by a more or less Sunni coalition, led by Saudi Arabia against Shia Salafists, is a case in point.
Iran would desire to make this a Shia-Sunni battle, scooping up all the Shia Muslims in its sphere of influence in an end-times battle which will herald the coming of the 12th Imam. This ideology is based on supernatural events which are believed to be imminent, it does not regard on the ground calculations of fact.
But this effort to create a Shia-Sunni civil war inflaming the entire Middle East, much touted by many news outlets, is not the real fault line and many Muslim powers recognize that this is not the case. Increasingly, there is awareness that Salafo-fascism is the real danger, whether it is Sunni or Shia in nature. And the enlightened Muslim powers, even though they are willing (for now) to cooperate with Saudi Arabia, seem more determined than ever to roll back the tide of Salafo-fascism, dealing with the ideology and its adherents at all levels, whether they are home-grown extremists or foreign fighters.
The war against Salafo-fascism is global. Battles wage in such far ranging places as the Phillipines, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, Yemen, the deserts of Egypt and Libya, in Burma, in parts of China, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in Nigeria and other African states, and elsewhere. Indeed, Iran is seeking to make inroads into South America with anti-capitalist powers like Venezuela, Cuba, and Bolivia and Hezbollah are though to have training camps for radicalized South American Muslims in Venezuela from whence it is feared they intend to infiltrate America's pourous border.
The Arab-led anti-Salafist coalition is somewhat weakened by its pragmatic approach to cooperation with Saudi Arabia, itself a proud Salafist power. In fact the Saudis export their Salafo-fascist ideology throughout the world and it has been claimed (but not proven) that most Mosques in the US are Saudi dominated, and therefore Salfist. But, despite a willingness to cooperate with the Saudis, such Arab powers as the UAE and Jordan openly assail the Salfist ideology and deem it and its practitioners to be a security threat.
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