Analysis: Iran Pushing for Global Caliphate?
Today's news that the Iranian regime has provided "humanitarian" aid to the jihadi-ridden Libyan rebels should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched the mullahs operate over the past few years. It fits with a pattern of the Iranians embracing and promoting jihadists and Islamists across the Middle East, regardless of whether they are Sunni or Shia.
The lone exception is Syria, where Iran wants desperately to prop up the secular, fascist regime of its close strategic ally, Bashar al-Assad.
With Ghadaffi on his way out and the rebels--a good portion of whom are linked to Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups-- consolidating their power, the Iranians see the real potential for an Islamic state in Libya. They look around the Middle East and see the same possibility in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood and also in Yemen.
This potential growth of radical Islamist governments, spawned by the so-called "Arab Spring," means the Iranian regime's stated goal of uniting the Muslim world across ideological lines to confront Israel and the West becomes much more realistic. In fact, a propaganda video produced by the Iranian regime that I reported on exclusively back in March referred approvingly to the Arab Spring as a major step in that direction.
This potential Islamic super-state--a powerful Muslim bloc united militarily, economically, and ideologically--has traditionally been known as the caliphate. It last existed under the Turkish-led Ottoman Empire, which disbanded in 1918. The collapse of the caliphate was a major tragedy for Islamists and they've pined for its return ever since.
Today, they are shockingly close to witnessing what seemed inconceivable just a few years ago become a reality. Think about it. We have powerful Islamist governments in Iran and Turkey pushing for Muslim unity. We have caliphate-minded Islamists ascendant in pivotal countries like Egypt. And we even have the framework for a caliphate at the United Nations, where the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is a major player.
The OIC is an association of 57 Islamic nations that promotes Muslim solidarity across political, social, and economic lines. Member nations vote as a bloc, and are currently seeking a resolution at the UN that would criminalize any criticism of Islam. The Obama administration, predictably, looks eager to get on board with this initiative.
So who would lead a renewed caliphate? I see four possibilities.
1) Iran. The Iranian regime is a Shiite bulwark in an overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim world. So would the Sunni majority be willing to allow a Shia power to lead them? If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, I say absolutely. A nuclear armed Iran would be the undisputed "strong horse" in the region and best positioned to lead the fight against Israel and the West.
The Sunni terror group Hamas, a major beneficiary of Iranian largess and weapons, is exhibit A of this philosophy. The enemy of my enemy, it goes without saying, is my friend. Especially when that "frenemy" has nuclear weapons capable of wiping the Little Satan, Israel, off the map and ICBM's that can reach the eastern shores of the Great Satan, America.
2) Turkey. Under its firebrand Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has effectively destroyed its relationship with Israel and taken an increasingly aggressive pro-Islamist stance. For instance, a CBN colleague told me this morning that Libyan sources say the Turks have poured "hundreds of millions" of dollars into the anti-Ghaddafi rebels. Turkey, whose Ottoman Empire led the caliphate for centuries, clearly wants to be a major player once again on the world stage. What better way to do so then to emerge as the undisputed leader and voice of the Muslim "ummah?"
Of course, this sort of ambition could put Turkey into conflict with Iran. The two countries have enhanced ties over the past few years, but seem to have had a bit of a falling out over Syria, where Erdogan and Co. would undoubtedly love to see Assad go if it meant the ascension of a Sunni fundamentalist government in Damascus.
3) Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Royal Family, custodians of the the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina, still view themselves as the standard bearers for the Muslim world. Accordingly, they have used billions of their petro-dollars to build radical mosques and madrassahs throughout Europe and the United States over the past several decades.
They see themselves as leaders, not followers. But while The Saudis might have the money and geographical/historical pedigree, they lack the military might and "street cred" among Islamists--who consider the Saudi Royals decadent pawns of the West--to lead a caliphate. The staunchly anti-Shia Saudis, by the way, are petrified by the growing power of Iran.
4) Egypt. If the Muslim Brotherhood--perhaps the world's strongest advocate for a revived caliphate--comes to power in the world's most populous and influential Arab nation, all bets are off. As it stands, Egypt's current military junta has already renewed ties with Iran in an alarming way.
Yes, these are very interesting--and perilous--times in the Middle East.