Few peoples in the world have suffered as much needlessly under tyranny, in this case a theocracy, as have the people of Iran.
I say “needlessly” because if Iran were a working democracy and actively seeking solutions to its internal problems, 40 percent of its 68 million inhabitants would not be living below the poverty line. The country might be able to address its air pollution, industrial effluents; overgrazing; deforestation; desertification; oil pollution in the Persian Gulf; wetlands lost to drought; soil degradation (salination); inadequate potable water; and pollution from raw sewage and industrial waste.
Known as Persia until 1935 and slightly larger than Alaska, Iran is heir of one of the world’s oldest civilizations. The country’s resources are enormous. It is the world’s fourth-largest petroleum producer. It is blessed with huge natural gas reserves and strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, vital maritime pathways for petroleum.
Such good fortune, however, is not enough for the clerical regime which would like to convert the entire Islamic Sunni world into a Shi’ite paradise. To do so, Iran is devoting its resources to establishing its version of an Islamic empire. There was the eight-year war with Iraq at the cost of a million casualties on the Iranian side alone. Facing a new threat — an Iraqi democracy on Iran’s borders, Iran’s bellicose mullahs are now at war with the coalition forces in Iraq. Why? To create a puppet theocratic regime in that country which would support Shi’ite, not Sunni, Islam.
Its fundamentalist leaders wage an undeclared war using suicide bombers against countries Iran defines as enemies. The theocrats operate with confidence there will be no reprisals by their victims. Thus far, their confidence has been justified.
The mullahs have created five major agencies to carry out their global ambitions, the most important of which is the “Qods”(Jerusalem Force). This includes all of Iran’s intelligence and extraterritorial agencies numbering some 21,000 personnel, according to the National Council of Resistance, a longtime exile organization whose inside reports have proven remarkably accurate in the past. Qods headquarters are on the former site of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
In addition to terrorist operations, the “Qods” trains non-Iranian terrorists, including groups of 40-50 from Pakistan, Morocco, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and other Middle East countries.
The great irony is the West finances Iran’s terrorist attacks in Iraq and elsewhere by buying its oil. Iran has financed terrorist operations in Basra, Al-Amara and Nassiriya and prevented Coalition armies from entering major population centers. Iran now recruits “suicide bomber” volunteers to be sent not only to Iraq but other Middle East countries. The Qods headquarters on Aug. 10, 2004, announced enlistment of an incredible 15,000 recruits. Today, they claim to have 40,000 volunteers.
Iran is working on producing nuclear weapons with this aim in mind: destruction of Israel. Iran’s new hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for destroying Israel following the declaration of former President Ali Rafsanjani who on Dec. 14, 2001, threatened Israel with a nuclear attack:
“If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists’ strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything [in Israel] while it will merely harm the Islamic world.”
Arnold Beichman is a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.