Agam's Gecko
Monday, April 17, 2006

ranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been described as anything from a messianic madman angling for a date with destiny, to an intellectually lightweight puppet for the ruling mullah-tocracy. According to Amir Taheri, in an article examining the reasons for the Iranian regime's strident determination to acquire nuclear weapons, Ahmadinejad has regular conferences with the Hidden Imam, the Mahdi.
Last Monday, just before he announced that Iran had gatecrashed "the nuclear club", President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad disappeared for several hours. He was having a khalvat (tête-à-tête) with the Hidden Imam, the 12th and last of the imams of Shiism who went into "grand occultation" in 941.
You will remember the golden domed mosque in Sammara which was bombed by al Qaeda in February, the attack that sparked off the so-called Iraqi civil war. It houses the tombs of the 10th and 11th of the Shia pantheon of great Imams, who also believe it to have been the site at which the 12th entered into the unseen realm ("the great occultation") more than a thousand years ago. Apparently, he's also Mahmoud's good buddy.
According to Shia lore, the Imam is a messianic figure who, although in hiding, remains the true Sovereign of the World. In every generation, the Imam chooses 36 men, (and, for obvious reasons, no women) naming them the owtad or "nails", whose presence, hammered into mankind's existence, prevents the universe from "falling off". Although the "nails" are not known to common mortals, it is, at times, possible to identify one thanks to his deeds. It is on that basis that some of Ahmad-inejad's more passionate admirers insist that he is a "nail", a claim he has not discouraged. For example, he has claimed that last September, as he addressed the United Nations' General Assembly in New York, the "Hidden Imam drenched the place in a sweet light".

Last year, it was after another khalvat that Ahmadinejad announced his intention to stand for president. Now, he boasts that the Imam gave him the presidency for a single task: provoking a "clash of civilisations" in which the Muslim world, led by Iran, takes on the "infidel" West, led by the United States, and defeats it in a slow but prolonged contest that, in military jargon, sounds like a low intensity, asymmetrical war.
Given President Jihad's fiery rhetoric last year, promising to "wipe Israel off the map," and his (less inflamatory, according to the some in the MSM) statements following the uranium enrichment announcement, that Israel is about to be "annihilated" very soon, what can the world do but take him at his word? In recent days the regime has revealed that they have 40,000 suicide "martyrs" ready to strike British and American targets (and presumably, anybody else that gets in their way) -- and had many of them on parade in Tehran for a grand celebration of national power.

I watched part of the spectacle staged for the big announcement itself, happening by chance to catch the live feed on AP satellite last week. Truly bizarre. On stage in an auditorium, before a backdrop of peace doves flying around atomic representations, a troupe of performers dressed in strange jumpsuits seemed to be trying to dance without dancing. Dancing of course, is "un-Islamic." So they sort of swayed around to a rather limp-sounding, recurring chorus of "Allah hu Akbar," occasionally raising arms in unison. It was actually quite funny to watch. Only later did I learn that the jumpsuits were some sort of radiation protection gear, and they had been gesturing with little vials of "uranium" in their hands! I wish I'd known at the time -- it would have added to the distinct Monty Python quality of the event.

[As I write this, I see on the AP feed this afternoon that another terrorist bomb attack has hit someplace in Israel. It's an Israeli TV broadcast, so I don't understand what's being said. Just another bomb in a crowded commercial part of a city, obviously aiming to kill Israeli civilians.]

Amir Taheri feels that the Iranians are not planning to tangle with George Bush, considering him an "aberration" among US presidents, and that they'll eventually give ground in some meaningless way, and continue to play games with Mr. Annan and Mr. al Baradei while they further their weapons program -- counting on the next US president being a wimp. And by that time, they'll be good to go.

Mark Steyn has a great column on this, and the idea that 'we can always get tough tomorrow, if we need to.' The thing is, tomorrow usually never comes. At least that seems to be what Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs of Iran are banking on, after George Bush is gone. That's the historic pattern they see, and why W is considered a non-wimpy aberration.

Steyn also has this terrific little game one can play, the next time you're flying somewhere and there's nothing good on the in-flight entertainment:
You know what's great fun to do if you're on, say, a flight from Chicago to New York and you're getting a little bored? Why not play being President Ahmadinejad? Stand up and yell in a loud voice, "I've got a bomb!" Next thing you know the air marshal will be telling people, "It's OK, folks. Nothing to worry about. He hasn't got a bomb." And then the second marshal would say, "And even if he did have a bomb it's highly unlikely he'd ever use it." And then you threaten to kill the two Jews in row 12 and the stewardess says, "Relax, everyone. That's just a harmless rhetorical flourish." And then a group of passengers in rows 4 to 7 point out, "Yes, but it's entirely reasonable of him to have a bomb given the threatening behavior of the marshals and the cabin crew."
Really, when you think about it, that just about sums it up. It's those folks in  rows 4 to 7 that I really just don't get (analogously speaking).

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