China’s War on Religion

The Chinese government’s merciless and systematic persecution of its Uighur Muslim population is not, primarily, due to concerns over terrorism, or an antipathy to Islam per se, or ethnic hostility, or even the traditional Marxist belief that religion is the “opiate of the masses,” but results from the Communist party’s inability to tolerate any claim that there is a source of authority higher than the state. Thus argues Nina Shea in explaining Beijing’s wholesale campaign against religious minorities—including Muslims, Christians, practitioners of Falun Gong, and, according to some reports, the remnants of the medieval Jewish community of Kaifeng. (Interview by Jeremy Hunt. Video, 38 minutes. Audio is available at the link below.)

Read more at Hudson Institute

More about: China, Freedom of Religion, Kaifeng, Uighurs

Iran’s President May Be Dead. What Next?

At the moment, Hizballah’s superiors in Tehran probably aren’t giving much thought to the militia’s next move. More likely, they are focused on the fact that their country’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, along with the foreign minister, may have been killed in a helicopter crash near the Iran-Azerbaijan border. Iranians set off fireworks to celebrate the possible death of this man known as “butcher of Tehran” for his role in executing dissidents. Shay Khatiri explains what will happen next:

If the president is dead or unable to perform his duties for longer than two months, the first vice-president, the speaker of the parliament, and the chief justice, with the consent of the supreme leader, form a council to choose the succession mechanism. In effect, this means that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will decide [how to proceed]. Either a new election is called, or Khamenei will dictate that the council chooses a single person to avoid an election in time of crisis.

Whatever happens next, however, Raisi’s “hard landing” will mark the first chapter in a game of musical chairs that will consume the Islamic Republic for months and will set the stage not only for the post-Raisi era, but the post-Khamenei one as well.

As for the inevitable speculation that Raisi’s death wasn’t an accident: everything I have read so far suggests that it was. Still, that its foremost enemy will be distracted by a succession struggle is good news for Israel. And it wouldn’t be terrible if Iran’s leaders suspect that the Mossad just might have taken out Raisi. For all their rhetoric about martyrdom, I doubt they relish the prospect of becoming martyrs themselves.

Read more at Middle East Forum

More about: Ali Khamenei, Iran, Mossad