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Sunday, December 27, 2009




Where is my bicycle?

Last updated: December 28, 2009: Time to go home

December 10, 2009

7 Dec 09 Yazd Iran. A Baseeji jeep ramming into a motorcycle with fleeing protesters. The two guys seem to have escaped unhurt.




December 21, 2009

Grand Ayatollah Montazeri died at age 87

Prepare for another round of mass destruction of bicycles. This time at the very heart of the Vatican of the Islamic Republic.


December 22, 2009

The Imperative Test

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is said to follow hardline Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi as his spiritual mentor, has not issued a condolence message even though Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei issued a message of condolence to the family of the grand ayatollah within hours of his death.

In his message, Ayatollah Khamenei acknowledged the Grand Ayatollah Montazeri’s theological credentials by calling him “the eminent jurisprudent” and praising his services to his mentor, the founder of the 1979 Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, while continuing to question the grand ayatollah’s political positions.

Referring to the dispute over the execution of political prisoners that led to the grand ayatollah’s resignation as successor to Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, Ayatollah Khamenei asked “God’s forgiveness” for the grand ayatollah for not passing the “imperative [divine] test” to become the supreme leader of Iran.

Seed Hasan Khomeini, the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini and custodian of his shrine, who has shown support for the opposition, was also among the first to send condolences to the grand ayatollah’s family and followers.

Source: The National

What a nice picture of consensus and unity among the ranks of the Islamic Republic's establishment. As to the imperative tests for remaining the Supreme Leader, I would cautiously bet on Khamenei to find the one about destruction of bicycles particularly challenging. May Allah forgive him.


El Farouki - Air Stone




December 27, 2009

Zen and the art of dying

People are reported shot dead in Iran today including a nephew of Mousavi himself in what appears the fiercest clashes ever since the beginning of the Green Revolution. Regardless of my overall skepticism regarding the Revolution's immediate prospects I still have to note two things. First of all, the Khomeini's revolution was a long affair that took months to develop. Iran is apparently not a country of overnight revolutions, so everything is still possible. Second, regarding the death of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, it's impossible to deny that the old man has chosen the timing of his death with the most impeccable precision.

Coinciding with Ashoura, when Shia passions and the spirit of martyrdom are running particularly high, the departure of the Grand Ayatollah has set the country ablaze. The regime is apparently crossing another major red line with the Revolutionary Guards and Baseej resorting more and more to use of fire arms to subdue the protests and these are activities that carry significant risks. Parts of the religious elite unsympathetic to the regime (and these may be actually the bulk of the elite) are now facing a stark choice of either speaking out or losing it completely, the prestige of the spiritual establishment is plainly at stake here. The short term consequences of a failure to respond may not be immediately obvious, but the long term consequences will be profound. Montazeri's departure leaves these people with no excuse, he was almost the only voice in the wilderness of them all. Somebody has to take his place.

There is some almost surreal quality about this man, his life and even more his death. Often claimed to have been Iran's top Islamic scholar, the Grand Ayatollah was one of the chief architects of the very system of velayat-e faqih. Following his fallout with Khomeini, the grand Ayatollah spent decades in a fierce struggle against his creation, but he failed to wrestle back even an inch. The Grand Ayatollah was lucky enough to witness the beginning of Green Revolution. During the first stage of the crackdown on the opposition Montazeri repeatedly rejected the legitimacy of the regime and issued stern warnings to the Baseej accusing them of acting against Islam. Not that it made a truckload of difference.

And yet, in his death Montazeri seems to be finally accomplishing something that has avoided him all the last decades of his life as his death is escalating the conflict to new levels, possibly all the way beyond the point of no return. The protesters, probably inflamed by the passions of Ashoura, are growing remarkably fearless. Broken legs and arms, now bullets, the regime is plainly struggling to get hold of this storm. Whether Montazeri in his death will prove more deadly for the regime than he was in his life remains to be seen, but there is something nobody can deny: it was a perfect timing.


December 28, 2009

Time to go home

There are rumors that a prominent Shia scholar is about to step in to take Montazeri's place. If the rumors are right, expect very clear cut and dramatic edicts from Grand Ayatollah Yousef Sanei to be soon given wide publicity.

Meanwhile, the regime seems to be taken by surprise by the intensity of the latest clashes and both Ahmadinejad and Khamenei seem to be quieter than usual. The regime has now got on his record shooting people dead during Ashoura and attacking mourners of a revered cleric. Meanwhile one recent poll established that a clear majority in 18 Arab countries thinks that Iran represents a greater threat to security in the Middle East than Israel. You don't have to guess really hard about the reasons. Iran's latest incursion into Iraqi territory has triggered an outbreak of anti Persian sentiment in Iraq riding the wave of growing Iraqi Arab nationalism.

And the war in Saada, if you believe the Arab and Iranian media, has been transformed into a Sunni Shia WW2. The Arab media is complaining all the time even about Shias from Kuwait and Bahrain supplying the Al-Houthi insurgents with money and weapons, never mind accusations of the Persian involvement and Hezbollah participation. Iranian media in its turn keeps denouncing Saudi Arabia and insinuating that elite troupes from Jordan and elsewhere are fighting on the government's side. Just the right time for Iran to proceed with Ahmalalah's nuclear program.

The Islamic Revolution has not only become totally unexportable, but another attempt to export it and Iran may find nuclear missiles directed at it from many directions. I don't claim that the latest South Korea's nuclear deal in the Gulf is about it, but it's obvious where the things will be heading if Ahmalalah is allowed to persist with his fallacies. Participation in an Arab Persian nuclear race is rather a high price to pay, let alone in exchange for such a dubious privilege as being allowed to take part in the Arab Israeli conflict that takes place two thousands miles away from Iran.

Never mind the struggling economy about which the biggest mystery is where the billions of the last oil boom have disappeared. Prominent Iranian economists have been wondering about this mystery in pubic not so long ago. There is very little in this rapidly growing pile of fiascoes that can endear the regime on anybody. And even if Ahmadinejad and Khamenei still can't figure it out, they can take a clue from a source much closer to them. If the National is right that even the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini and custodian of his shrine is supporting the opposition, then it's a clear sign that it's time for the two to pack their shit and go home.

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