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News & Analysis > All
News & analysis from Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a global perspective
Iran calls for Islamic unity in the midst of attacks
July 8, 2016
The idea of Iranian-Saudi friendship, even just among some Iranian and Saudi diplomats, is considered a joke by many. This is due to perceived provocations appearing in the media and some serious words being lobbed across the Persian Gulf. It is also due to Western narratives of religious sectarianism, geopolitical narrowness, and long-simmering conflict, as if those things were particular to Muslim countries and the United States were above it all. For example, one doesn’t hear as much about “American-Iranian proxy war” despite the real and supposed closeness between the United $tates and Saudi Arabia or even “American-Russian proxy war,” but “Saudi-Iranian proxy war” is often used without needing to be explained. At the same time, extensive Amerikan-Iranian friendship is somehow easier to imagine. Alleged anti-racists and “Marxists” in the U.S. Democratic Party are among those prone to thinking Amerikan-Iranian friendship or diplomacy or Amerikan-Saudi friendship/diplomacy is a good thing relative to independent improved Iranian-Saudi relations.
According to some of those paying lip service to opposing U.S. imperialism, Saudi Arabia is naturally an eternal ally of the united $tates if Amerikans allow it, and Iran aspires to the same role and maneuvers to supplant its neighbor. The First World countries of the West – which have a bourgeois majority and no proletarian working class – are meanwhile supposed to be on the brink of some kind of working class revolution challenging the wealthy, elites, and norms of trade and capitalism, or the West is on the verge of a making decision between socialism, and populism threatening to bring back fascism – delusionally as if Nazi Germany and a socialist Soviet Union still existed. Saudi Arabia may be a greater obstacle to peace than the united $tates and Amerikans may be victims of Saudi Arabia, supposedly. Despite the longstanding social-democratic aspect to some Iranian and Saudi policies, many have treated the prominence of nominal socialism, so-called leftism and pseudo-feminism in Western election politics as evidence of comparative political development of so-advanced Westerners, if not evidence of being less privileged than ordinary Saudis sometimes ridiculously thought to be rich patriarchs or gender oppressors of Westerners because of different ideas about gender and sexuality. In actual fact, both populist and so-called socialist rhetoric, and pandering, in the West without a proletarian working class leads to fascism, and there is more reason to believe Iranian and Saudi struggles reflect the presence of a proletariat striving to exert itself in a complicated situation of u.$. hegemony. The dominance of one imperialist country, by far the #1 exploiter in the world, is today coupled with completed bourgeoisification of most imperialist country populations and proletarianization of whole oppressed countries that continue to have neo-colonial governments as well as capitalists struggling with temptations from the First World. Even the rich in various capitalist countries smaller than the united $tates have an interest in opposing dangerous levels of u.$. control of finance, trade, and geographic space, and oppose the interests of ordinary Amerikans in that struggle. So despite the fact that the governments of Saudi Arabia and Iran are obviously theocratic and capitalist and have a neo-colonial aspect (not necessarily or only in relation to u.$. imperialism), some of what those governments do independently or in combination can reflect proletarian influence, or pressure from a struggling proletariat – more than the atheistic/secular movements of petty-bourgeois exploiters in the West surrounded by fellow citizens who are as rich as them or richer.
Found among the skeptics of Iranian-Saudi unity are those Westerners who regurgitate humyn rights abuse allegations against both Iran and Saudi and reject both Iranian/Saudi nationalism and New Afrikan (Black) nationalism, but treat conflicts inside the united $tates as though they were more important than anything going on in foreign affairs. They defer to others on international relations, don’t pay much attention to them, or just don’t care. They end up accepting various bribes in exchange for compliance with wars against other countries. The coconut Chican@s and oreo New Afrikans among them – white on the inside politically and psychopathologically – long to be the economic and social equals of the white colonizers as exploiters and oppressors, and they share the white settler parasite colonizer’s feeling of superiority to the Muslim black, brown and yellow people in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. No matter how many people the united $tates kills in one war after another, no matter how many New Afrikans the Euro-Amerikan imperialist-patriarchal state shoots dead in the street, no matter how many people the united $tates imprisons, no matter how much the united $nakes steals from the Third World or how it accomplishes that theft – Amerika is seen as a relative force for good in the world despite all of its history and faults, and if it isn’t then who cares because at least “I am getting my own back” from the world that screwed “me.”
Some recent statements from Iran have been interesting in the context of perceived simple hostility to Saudi Arabia. Iran has – somewhat understandably – been very publicly raising serious concerns about some Saudis in a context of being treated unfairly as an officially designated (U.S. State Department) State Sponsor of Terrorism while Saudi Arabia remains off that blacklist. The designation is part of the Amerikans’ continuing economic, diplomatic and psychological warfare against Iran. But, after the suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of July, Iran’s foreign minister was in Iranian media as warning “that Sunni and Shia Muslims would both remain victims unless they stood united against the menace of terrorism.”(1) The full tweet paraphrased was: “There are no more red lines left for terrorists to cross. Sunnis, Shiites will both remain victims unless we stand united as one. #Medina.” One of the blasts was outside the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, considered by most Shia Muslims and most Sunni Muslims the #2 holy site in Islam. Multiple people died outside that mosque. Two blasts disturbed the tranquility of a Shia mosque in Qatif. From Zarif a day later: “#EidMubarak [EidAlFit_Emoji.png]. May we unite in prayer & practice to cleanse our faith and Ummah from the violence and hate promoted by extremist demagogues.”(2)
Another explosion took place outside the U.S. consulate in Jeddah, about twenty meters from the building reportedly. Though no Amerikan was injured, this may have put anti-Amerikans emphasizing the national or religious identity of the perceived targets in somewhat of an awkward position. Although, this writer said in another article, “Some of the anti-Amerikan or anti-Western movements attacking various Arab, Muslim or Middle East countries have an interesting way of bringing countries together and not always closer to the united $tates.”(3) This is not the kind of thing the present writer likes to be proved right about. Certainly nobody wants bombs knowingly aimed at holy sites except maybe some atheist CIA/MI6 agents.
Of course, both anti-Amerikan forces and some pro-Amerikan forces claim to support Shia-Sunni unity. It is notable in this context that just days before the incidents in Saudi Arabia, the Iranian Parliament Speaker was in Iranian media as alleging u.$. interference against Iranian-Saudi unity.(4) “Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani says the United States and its Western allies are not interested in the settlement of the ongoing row between Iran and Saudi Arabia.” “ . . . Larijani added that Washington and its Western allies outwardly express concern over the conflict between Tehran and Riyadh but they, in fact, refrain from conducting ‘practical measures’ to solve it.” “The creation of crises in the Middle East has turned into a regular policy for them, he added,” as many including this writer have said in the context of Palestine. The PressTV article quotes Larijani on some Saudi disillusionment with diplomacy. The article seems to leave room to infer u.$. interference in Saudi diplomacy, resulting in war.
Shortly after the July 4 detonations, PressTV was already pushing for an anti-Amerikan message after a commentator raised the idea that “the whole incident is not something that could really be understood clearly” in the context of few casualties and allegations of Saudi responsibility for the growth and mobility of “Daesh” and “Takfiri groups.” “Well a guest who we spoke to earlier here on Press TV said that in such incidents it is the United States that needs to do some soul-searching to see why such attacks take place.”(5)
Various countries and organizations have condemned the attacks in Saudi Arabia without saying anything negative about the united $tates, in fact encouraging cooperation with the united $tates. So it is important right now to emphasize both Muslim unity and anti-Amerikanism, as Iran is doing. Attacks like those in Saudi Arabia are likely to be repeated as long as Islamic governments are perceived as having competing obligations to the Muslim community and u.$. imperialism and there appears to be no structure available to address the horrifying consequences of such polytheism while the united $tates manipulates other democracies.
If unity or struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia is based on economic and political necessity and not on religious idealism, it must also be admitted that Saudi cooperation and any future Iranian cooperation with the united $tates would be based on temporary self-interest or duress, not on shared values. Despite current unequal economic and political treatment, Iran and Saudi Arabia have much more in common culturally, politically and economically with each other, than with the united $nakes. Pan-Islamism with more proletarian content is still an option if more Saudis and more Iranians develop illusions about the Amerikan government or Amerikans as a people. ◊
1. “Amnesty Intl. accuses US, Saudis allies of supporting terror groups in Syria,” 2016 July 5. http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/07/05/473684/US-Saudis-terror-Syria
@JZarif, 5:08 PM - 4 Jul 2016. https://twitter.com/JZarif/status/750119168897347584
2. @JZarif, 6:46 PM - 5 Jul 2016. https://twitter.com/JZarif/status/750506120209457152
3. “U.S. Democrats, Greens keep things simmering with Saudi Arabia,” 2016 May 31. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-06-02-news-Democrats-Greens-Saudis.md
4. “West unwilling to de-escalate Iran-Saudi row: Larijani,” 2016 June 28. http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/06/28/472604/Iran-Saudi-Arabia-US-West-Ali-Larijani
5. “Jeddah bombing cast doubt on US, Saudi policy: Commentator,” 2016 July 4. http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/07/04/473592/Saudi-Arabia-US-consulate-Jeddah-bomb-blast-Daesh-Turkey-Qatar