Understanding Iran’s Network of Influence in Russia

April 29 2022

In Syria, Moscow and Tehran have cooperated closely to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad, while the Kremlin serves as the ayatollahs’ major advocate in nuclear talks. The friendliness between the two countries can also be seen in the Russian regime’s tolerant attitude toward Iranian efforts to win the sympathy of influential Russians and even to disseminate Shiite teachings among Russian Muslims. Dima Course explains:

Tehran promotes a narrative that presents the Iranian revolution to the Russians in terms of a “distinctive conservative culture bravely fighting against destructive globalism guided by the West.” In addition, Iran attempts to use, and even enhance, anti-Western, and specifically anti-American, sentiments in Russia to bring the countries closer.

In 2012, a new think tank called the Izborsk Club was established to employ Russia’s anti-liberal, anti-Western, and ultra-patriotic intellectuals. [Since then], the gradual turn of Putin’s regime towards neo-imperial ideas and confrontation with the West turned [these thinkers] into leading commentators in state media and recognized experts of Duma committees, the government, and the presidency.

A few ideas published by the experts of Izborsk in the last few years deserve attention. These include [advocating for] the inclusion of Iran in the Collective Security Treaty Organization led by Russia and a proposal for Russian leaders to openly support Iran, even if it leads to a confrontation with the West. Furthermore, they call for Iran to become a strategic ally and allow Russia to establish naval bases on the Indian Ocean. Finally, they have also proposed sharing a sphere of influence with Iran and Armenia to weaken Turkey’s and NATO’s influence in the South Caucasus.

In addition, experts at the think tank promote the concept of spiritual and civilizational closeness between Russia and Iran. For example, the influential ideologue Aleksandr Dugin visited the country and was especially impressed by the holy city of Qom. Dugin has written about Iran and even completed a monograph in 2014 arguing that despite all their differences, there is a potential for a “Russian Orthodox–Shiite alliance.” According to Dugin, Shiite and Russian Orthodox cultures share the traditions of martyrdom and self-sacrifice for higher ideals.

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Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: anti-Americanism, Iran, 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