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Is A Free Iraq Coming Home To Roost In Iran?

Is A Free Iraq Coming Home To Roost In Iran?

In the weeks prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Johns Hopkins Professor and noted Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami wrote that a free Iraq might have a profound impact on neighboring Iran:

It is in the nature of things today, in an Iranian society deeply divided between those who would bury the revolution and join the world, and others hell-bent on keeping the theocracy, and their own dominion, intact, that the American drive against Iraq would be defined by that chasm. For those who want to normalize Iran, the thunder of war against Iraq is the coming of a blessed rain. The Americans would be nearby, but what of it? Liberty is rarely a foreigner’s gift, and no American war in Iran’s neighborhood will settle the fight between theocratic zealots and those in Iran who have twice, in presidential elections, cast their votes for a reform that never came. But the “contagion effect” of a liberated Iraq will no doubt have a role to play in the fight for Iran’s future. In Persia, there will be multitudes hoping that the foreigner’s storm will be mighty enough to clear their foul sky.

In light of the protests by hundreds of thousands of Iranians over election fraud and in favor of reform, one has to wonder whether Ajami’s prophecy has come true. While I have not seen reports of protesters shouting “Iraq is free and so should we,” one would not expect such a direct correlation.

Nonetheless, the effects of a free Iraq, in which there is a multitude of competing parties and widespread economic freedom, must be great on the Iranians. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Iranians visit Iraq annually. Iraq has maintained a Shiite Islamic character for the most part without the repressive policies of Iran.

While Iraq still is subjected to violence, the contrast between the direction Iraq is moving, and the stagnant Iran, could not be more clear, and must not be lost on Iranians in the streets.

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There is certainly a cause/effect relationship between Bush-era foreign policy and the refusal of Iranians to tolerate thugocracy.
This will be underscored when A Scheissekopf Asserts Suddenly Alternate Scenarios, such as a lament that Bush's failure in Iraq has de-stabilized the region, limiting Obama's options.

We have to consider the mess we made in Iran by supporting the Shah at all costs which led to the Ayatollah gaining political control of the country and forcing sharia and religious oligarchy on the population. This is the mess we inherited from the 1970s and we are only now beginning to see the rumblings from a new generation of Iranians. Perhaps this has something to do with Iraq or not, but coincidence is not proven cause.

I've been shouting this as the prime reason to support the Iraq War since 2003. The greatest threat to Iran today comes from a democratic Iraq on its border that honors the traditional Shia practice of quietism – i.e., maintaining a wall between mosque and state, to put it in American terms. Seeing a functioning democracy next door is huge. But to add to that, Iran's theocracy itself is illegitimate when looked at in terms of a millenium of apolitical Shia tradition – a tradition shredded in 1979 by Ayatollah Khomeini and his velyat-e-faqi, a new philosophy justifying and requiring theocratic rule. And indeed, the most popular religious figure in both Iraq and Iran is now Grand Ayatolah Ali Sistani, an adherent to the quietist school. This is deeply problematic for Iran, if not in the next few weeks, then certainly in the next few years.

Every year that freaky bloddying ritual is done by thousands of shia muslims going to the places they consider holy in iraq. until saddam fell, iranians could not make that journey. And as they did, they true(r) democracy and they saw the positive effects of american involvement.

It has long been assumed that iraq would be dominated by iran because of the religious connection, but I always thought that argument sold the iraqis short. it seems more likely that a free iraq will have a positive effect on iran.