Morocco has recently severed all diplomatic relations with Iran. Three major Arab countries, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Morocco are thus confronting Iranian hostilities by means of rupture of ties and boycott. For a while now, Iran has been a religious, political and strategic menace not just for Arabs, but for all Muslims across the world.
In 2008-2009, the Kingdom of Morocco cut off its diplomatic relations with Iran because its religious and security institutions sensed Iran’s growing interferences in religious and social security affairs. Morocco was the first Arab and Islamic country to become aware of Iran’s mission of spreading Shiism in several places, beginning from several places including the Iranian cultural center, and of interfering via media outlets and journalists who are affiliated with Iranian media outlets or who support Iran and Hezbollah. When others cautioned against this threat on Mashreq and Egypt, we considered it an exaggeration. I wrote about that in newspapers at the time and said that there are manifestations of interferences in the name of religion and sect, but the most serious challenge posed by Iran was political and strategic.
A Sudanese minister told me at the time that religious and sectarian infiltrations should not be underestimated. Iran has always been a friend to al-Bashir’s regime; however despite its mutual cordiality, it sought to spread sectarian strife in Sudan by tempting Sufist and religious intellectuals to convert to Shiism and providing them with financial support.
Iran’s modus operandi
We now know – or we’ve rather known for years – that Iran has launched a campaign to spread Shiism across all Arab and Islamic countries via its various government or quasi-governmental institutions. It’s been doing so at two levels: first by recruiting Arab and non-Arab Shiites to serve Iranian policies by various means of support, mainly via organization and armament, and the second is by spreading Shiism among the poor Sunnis in other countries, if possible under the cover of promoting Sufism that cherishes Ahl Al Bayt.
Morocco has taught them a lesson in how to preserve the safety of religion and national security.Radwan al-Sayed
As for the political and strategic challenge, it no longer needs any evidence. In every country with a Shiite minority, Iranians recruit, organize and re-discipline their youths then instruct them to shake stability there or dominate the state especially if the government is weak or submissive under the weight of enticement and intimidation. After seizing Gaza in 2007 through the Islamic Jihad and Hamas and using Gaza as a sword directed at Egypt, Hezbollah, in 2008, invaded Beirut to end any attempts to resist it for controlling the country.
Everyone is aware of how Iran exploited US occupation of Iraq in order to seize it. Afterwards, they took advantage of weakening the Syrian people's and interfered through their armies and Shiite militias from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to keep Assad and Syria under their control.
Dubious anti-Israel stance
All this political Shiite activism found acceptance among the naive and the nationalists, even the Sunnis on the pretext of resisting Israel. With the Americans and Russians, they acquired a new task and a new argument: Combating terrorism! Thus, every proud Sunni Arab standing against Iranian dominance was branded a terrorist. Under this label and after controlling the political decision in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese, Syrians and Iraqis have been killed and displaced for years. Then they created a rift within the Yemeni Zaidis and reinvented the rule of the Imams. They took over three provinces with Zaidi majority and benefitted from the president’s disagreement with the Yemeni rebels (who eventually killed him) so they formed an alliance with him, seized Sana'a and the coasts and advanced towards the central provinces on the Saudi border then towards Aden. If it weren’t for the intervention of the Arab coalition, they might have been able to rule like they did in Lebanon without any trouble.
Why did all this happen and why is it happening? It’s because of vacuum. They killed Rafic Hariri, the Israelis killed Yasser Arafat, and they killed Saddam Hussein with the help of Americans. There are divisiveness and extremism throughout our religion, so the political, religious and Arab security systems have cracked to the extent that they (the Iranians) aspired to besiege Saudi Arabia, not only from Iraq but also from Yemen. They did not even hesitate to launch ballistic missiles at Mecca and Riyadh.
Morocco has taught them a lesson in how to preserve the safety of religion and national security. Let us imagine; they were going to Morocco to threaten security via the Polisario, as they did when they went to Gaza to threaten Egypt and to Al-Jawf to threaten Saudi Arabia. Let us be loyal to our religion and our homeland in order to safeguard them.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Radwan al Sayed is a Lebanese thinker and writer who attained a bachelor degree from the Faculty of Theology at al-Azhar University and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tübingen in Germany. He has been a scholar of Islamic studies for decades and is the former editor-in-chief of the quarterly al-Ijtihad magazine. Radwan is also the author of many books and has written for Arab dailies such as al-Ittihad, al-Hayat and ash-Sharq al-Awsat.