There is nothing new about this prolonged war between the Iranian camp and the Arab camp represented by Egypt and Saudi Arabia; it is a complex war that is composed of elements from politics and religion to culture and media. The most recent chapter of this war has revealed that there is a Hezbollah-affiliated cell on Egyptian territory, and Hassan Nasrallah admitted this himself even if he did underplay the significance of the cell leader by describing him as a “porter”.
Some of those who are more inclined towards the Iranian-Syrian axis and the parties or movements affiliated to it believe that all this talk about the magnitude of the Iranian threat to Arab interests and to top security files in the region has been blown out of proportion or is a scare tactic used by the enemies of the Arab world to create a different enemy to the Israeli enemy. To these people, the Arabs have no enemy except Israel and America of course.
More recently, an intellect from the Iranian-Syrian camp wrote in London, a long way away from the Arabian Gulf, about the charges made by the Egypt’s public prosecutor against Hezbollah and its Secretary General who have been charged with attempting to destabilize Egypt and planting a cell on Egyptian territory at the instruction of Hezbollah itself. According to the writer, the Egyptian regime wants to fabricate a conflict with Hezbollah and Hezbollah wants no part of such evil. Furthermore, the revolutionary writer pointed out that even Britain is now beginning to woo Hezbollah and welcomed an official from the Al Manar TV Channel and a member of Hezbollah’s politburo. So why hasn’t Egypt followed in Britain’s footsteps?
The truth is that the Lebanese Hezbollah is clearly hostile towards Egypt. This party is part of the Khomeini power system in the Islamic world, both ideologically and with regards to the media. Hezbollah’s leader himself admitted this when he stated that he was a proud member of the Waliyat al Faqih party, which is in a state of war with the Egyptian government. Praising the Egyptian people whilst attacking their state will not help the situation. Would Hassan Nasrallah, for example, and those like him from the Waliyat al Faqih party, agree to let a party go and fight the political regime in Iran, whilst at the same time praising the Iranian people and the Persian civilization?
Of course not.
There are great differences between the two visions and orientations in the region, as Syrian President Bashar al Assad correctly pointed out. There is agreement on this point; however, the way these differences are defined is a matter of contention between the Iranian-Syrian camp on the one hand and the Arab camp represented by Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the other. The difference between the two visions is as vast as the difference between stability and chaos. This definition might be better than using moderation and opposition as a definition, as Iran and its allies have a real aim to upset security and spread political chaos as well as to confuse Arab countries and force them to agree with Iran’s vision so as to ultimately accede to the Iranian way of solving matters. The problem, from Iran’s point of view, lies in the lack of opportunity to spread its influence using revolutionary ideas and ideas related to salvation, which is the hope of every nation and those who are oppressed. So the only path to salvation would be to “blend in with the Khomeini ideology, just as Khomeini blended in with Islam,” in the words of the founder of the Iraqi Islamic Dawa Party and Khomeini’s friend, Mohammad Baqr al Sadr.
So it is about Iran’s vision and diagnosis and solution to the problem in the Middle East. From the very beginning, concerned Arab countries did not agree with allowing Iran to spread its revolutionary discourse in the Arab region for fear of sowing the seeds of Khomeini ideology that would later grow into strange entities such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, which is external to the state and the law.
Despite the “delayed” Arab resistance against the attack of fundamentalist Iran, the Iranian camp has an important status in the Arab world, especially in Egypt and Jordan. We all remember how the Islamic Action Front (the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan) and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt sided with Hezbollah when it attacked west Beirut.
In the eyes of these entities, Iran is a country that is sincere in its support of the Palestinian Cause. Some of the intellectuals belonging to the Iranian camp in Egypt believe that Iran, in the words of Mohammad Hassanein Heikal, is the only country of real civilization and weight in the region, besides Egypt, whereas the rest are nothing but numerous variations of this powerful force and blend of Egyptian-Persian culture. Therefore, according to Heikal’s opinion, there is no point to this fabricated enmity between Iran and Egypt. The writer of the revolutionary London-based articles also believes that there is no real enmity between Egypt and Hezbollah.
Some of this support and bias towards Iran, its party in Lebanon and its movement in Gaza could be attributed to ideological similarities in the structure of fundamentalist political dialogue, and this is the case with the Muslim Brotherhood, the head organisation to Hamas and the twin movement of the Khomeini current. The Muslim Brotherhood is the Sunni equivalent of the Khomeini movement (consisting of the Dawa Party, Hezbollah, and al Hakim’s SCIRI in Iraq etc.) The concept of the Waliyat al Faqih is the equivalent of Sayyed Qotb’s theory on rule; and Khomeini’s Islamic government is the equivalent of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic state. Moreover, in order to understand why Mahdi Akef, the General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, is now angry at the Egyptian media that is critical of Hezbollah, we ought to remember the close ties between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Shia Khomeini currents.
What unites those who revolutionized Sunni Islam and those who revolutionized Shia Islam and set in motion a political program for their fundamentalist concepts is their focus on political affairs and their mobilization of all social, cultural and economic efforts so as to serve the party’s “creed” until it takes over the reins of the state.
In the fifties, the Dawa Party in Iraq was a clear example of the resemblance in vision between the Muslim Brotherhood and fundamentalist Shiism, which Khomeini later marked with his own stamp. Some of the leaders of the Dawa party were originally members of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Iraq founded by Sheikh Taqiuddin al Nabhani, a Palestinian Sunni who seceded from the Muslim Brotherhood. The reason for this smooth transfer from Hizb ut-Tahrir or the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood to the Shia Dawa party was the vast common ground of political and ideological thought and common aspiration.
One of the co-founders of the Dawa party (to which the current Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki belongs) was Sheikh Arif al Basri, a Shia fundamentalist activist who left Hizb ut-Tahrir for the Dawa party.
Bahraini writer, Mansoor al Jamri explained that some Iraqi Islamist Shia figures joined the Dawa party after being part of the Muslim Brotherhood in Iraq, as referred to in his research, (The History of the Bahraini Islamic Movement from Dawa to Ahrar al Bahrain to al Wifaq), published in Al Wasat newspaper.
In his memoirs, Ali al Tantawi, the Syrian Sheikh with close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, spoke about how the Syrians openly welcomed the revolutionary fundamentalist Iranian activist, Navvab Safavi, the founder of Fadayan-e Islam society when he visited Damascus. Navvab Safavi was Khomeini’s intellectual and political predecessor. Khomeini referred to him in his speeches on a number of occasions after returning to Tehran victorious.
It should come as no surprise therefore that Mahdi Akef would support Khomeini’s Iran and Hezbollah, which adopts the concept of Waliyat al Faqih, as both movements drink from the same intellectual and political well. Despite that one movement is Sunni and the other is Shia, their source of water is one and the same.
What is surprising however is the support of pan-Arab groups for the Iranian camp and the Khomeini project. One upon a time, these groups used to hail Saddam Hussein as the protector of the eastern gateway and the protector of pan-Arabism. Before that, they glorified Gamal Abdel Nasser. How can these groups endorse an anti-Arab project on the one hand and pan-Arab nationalism on the other, whilst accusing those who resist the Iranian project of betraying the pan-Arab cause?
Such a contradiction can only be met with a tactful silence and a prayer for deliverance from evil.
Somewhere between the kindness of “Sayyed” Hassan Nasrallah and the frankness of the General “Guide” Mahdi Akef and the contemplation of “Professor” Heikal lays the truth.