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The Syrian revolution uncovers scandals - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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If the Syrian revolution triumphs, regional balances of power will fluctuate and certain alliances will be disrupted. However, the fact is that some concepts have already been shaken and exposed, most notably the concept of sectarianism. Before the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, there were those who warned against Iran preaching its Shia doctrine to promote its political expansion, or talked about a sectarian consensus between the Iranian regime and the Syrian regime – or at least a consensus that displayed elements of sectarian contamination. These early warnings, alluding to the seriousness of the Iranian strategy, were limited to the traditional and politicized Salafi currents. As for the Muslim Brotherhood and affiliated Islamists, their approach was to avoid confronting or challenging the Iranian strategy, let alone seeking to expose and undress it. It is true that they complained of a sectarian psychology within the Iranian strategy, but they refrained from any form of a clash because there were shared interests between some Brotherhood branches in Arab countries and Iran, a state which knows how to exploit the Sunni world.

Since the outbreak of the Khomeini revolution, the Iranian propaganda machine, and with it the propaganda of its allies in the region, succeeded in deceiving the Arab and Islamic people; once under the banner of Islamic unity, once in the name of fighting Israel, and once through the blackmail of material support. We saw this prominently with Hamas, but once the Syrian revolution broke out its flames burned the Islamic movement’s false parachute that had been provided by the Iranian revolution.

Even if Hamas’s leaders have remained silent about Iran’s sectarian involvement in Syria, Brotherhood factions in the rest of the Arab world have begun to talk explicitly about the Iranian plans that have been exposed by the Syrian revolution. Sheikh al-Qaradawi warned of the spread of Shiism in Egypt, and Sheikh Ghannouchi adopted a stance objecting to Shiite proselytizing in Tunisia and lent his support to al-Qaradawi’s statements. There was a clear shift in the discourse of Islamist movements who became critical of Iran, its support for Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and its clear sectarian motives. The height of this shift was the resounding statement issued by Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi, who said that Saudi Arabia was “the sponsor of the moderate Sunni Islamic project and Egypt is the protector of this project”. We do not need to consider this further to conclude that this statement is addressed primarily to Iran, which has not spared a single Sunni country from its proselytizing activities, disrupting the doctrinal unity of these countries and destroying their harmony.

The al-Azhar institution is a proud advocate of tolerance, and teaches that the [Shiite] Jaʿfari school of thought is equal with Sunni schools of thought. However, it changed the tone of its discourse after recognizing the seriousness of the Iranian octopus exporting its tainted religious ideology. Al-Azhar then supported a remarkable step to include a new article in the Egyptian constitution that prohibits and criminalizes the act of insulting the companions of the prophet or his wives. This indicates that Iran has gone too far in meddling with the Sunni world, its institutions, scholars and movements. The magic has turned against the magician, who now sees a growing awareness of its plans to spread its ideology.

Returning to the strategic shift in the stances of political Islamic movements towards Iran, and the Syrian revolution’s exposure of Iranian plans, we must take note of this with care, especially as these movements reached the top of the political pyramid in Egypt and Tunisia. If we used to warn of the danger of these political Islamic movements converging with Iran when they were in the opposition, then Arab states – particularly Saudi Arabia – must pay even more attention to this danger now that they are in power.

The blood of the Syrian martyrs is dear and precious to the hearts of the Arabs, and the damages caused by Bashar al-Assad’s fascist regime, along with the huge sacrifices being made, are catastrophic. However, on the other hand, the Syrian revolution has revealed Iran’s outrageous sectarian plans; a country that once claimed to be a supporter of the oppressed. Hence the Syrian revolution is like the Surat al-Tauba, which revealed the scandalous tricks and hypocritical methods used in the prophet’s era.

Dr. Hamad Al-Majid

Dr. Hamad Al-Majid

Dr. Hamad Al-Majid is a journalist and former member of the official Saudi National Organization for Human Rights. Dr. Al-Majid is a graduate of Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh and holds an MA from the University of California and a doctorate from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom.

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