The Long History of Cooperation between Iran and Russia

In the Syrian civil war, Iranian and Russian forces have fought side by side to keep Bashar al-Assad in power. But cooperation between Moscow and Tehran goes back much further, explains Oved Lobel:

[T]he Islamist regime has maintained a deep warmth for Russia, especially after 1988. The Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was the only foreign leader ever to receive a personal letter from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (in 1989) urging him to consider Islam an alternative given the imminent collapse of Communism. . . . While the current relationship is a strategic alliance, the Soviet-Khomeini relationship was more akin to the Russo-Turkish alliance of today, in which their highest mutual priority—the destruction of U.S. influence—allowed them to compartmentalize irreconcilable ideological and geopolitical differences.

The most extreme example of this is Afghanistan, where Khomeini and Moscow came to an arrangement whereby Tehran could replicate its Islamic theocracy in Hazarajat, the area predominantly populated by the Hazara Shiite minority, while the Soviets shored up their Communist state in the rest of Afghanistan. . . . Following the sudden rise of the Taliban, Russia and Iran allied against them and backed the Northern Alliance. . . . But, following the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, the two countries collaborated in supporting the Taliban.

Since Vladimir Putin took the helm at the Kremlin, the relationship between the two has only grown stronger:

The clearest demonstration of the Russo-Iranian alliance was their joint intervention in Syria to preserve Bashar al-Assad’s regime, but their anti-U.S. alliance spans the globe. For instance, when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) sought Iranian support during the second intifada, it went to Moscow to connect with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp, resulting in the 2002 Karine A affair, when the Palestinian Authority tried to smuggle 50 tons of Iranian-supplied weapons into Gaza in flagrant violation of the Oslo Accords.

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Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Afghanistan, Iran, PLO, Russia

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter