I couldn’t resist the invitation made by the 5Pillarz editorial board to offer a counter argument to journalist, Kashif Ahmed’s article praising Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s “heroic legacy” (https://5pillarsuk.com/2013/08/07/opinion-the-heroic-legacy-of-mahmoud-ahmadinejad/), writes Amar Marar.
Being a Sunni Muslim originally from Palestine, a staunch supporter of Hamas, Hezbollah (before they interfered in Syria), Islamic Jihad, and all resistance movements against Western imperialism, capitalism and Zionism, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of holding Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in high esteem, usually as a result of being mesmerised by his “brave words” in the face of the international community.
Rather than refuting and criticising every single point raised by Kashif Ahmed in praise of Ahmedinejad, because some regarding his personal lifestyle, his anti-Western and anti-Israeli rhetoric were in fact true, I want to depict another image of Ahmed’s “hero”, one that highlights cowardice, empty threats, hypocrisy and covert sectarianism.
I don’t think any Muslim leader (president, prime minister or King) deep inside has any warm feelings towards the illegal entity of Israel, even the petrol-rich Western agents of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Kuwait. Nor do I think Hosni Mubarak, the King of Jordan and even Bashar the butcher have any warm feelings towards Israel. Let’s be serious, whether it was out of political pressure, financial bribery or to keep White House and Downing Street happy, if they had their way, I’m sure every single leader of Muslim states would speak out against Israel the way Ahmedinejad did.
But to regard him as a brave “Muslim hero” shows utter naivety and the unfortunate state the Ummah are in that we regard someone who utters empty threats (quite consistently) instead of actually getting off his backside and putting his money where his mouth is.
WAIT – you’re thinking that the Iranians under Ahmedinejad provided “Al Fajr” missiles to Hamas and Hezbollah to use against Israel right? And because of his good relations with Syria’s Ba’athist regime those arms were able to reach Hamas and Hezbollah right? Wrong, the over-exaggeration of how much arms were reaching the Palestinians is questionable, and it is well known that more Iranian weapons reached Hezbollah than Hamas through Syria (you won’t need three guesses why).
Furthermore, when Gaza was under attack, not one Revolutionary Guard was sent to Gaza, compared to the hundreds or thousands that are now fighting in Syria. Not a single long range missile was sent from Tehran to Tel Aviv but I assure you it would have if a holy shrine was attacked in Damascus or Karbala!
The same benchmark should be applied with Ahmedinejad’s dealing with the West. The Iranians shot down an American drone and refused to return its remains to the US. They held couple of British sailors on espionage charges (then released them) when they entered the Persian Gulf – that is some serious courage, Salahudeen al Aybui and Omar Mokhtar would have been proud!
What assistance did Iran under Ahmedinejad provide to the millions that died in Iraq and Afghanistan? Okay, so they didn’t provide military bases like the Saudi and Pakistani puppet, but again, did they send any Revolutionary Guards to fight the invaders of Muslim lands? Did they smuggle Al Fajr missiles to the Taliban? Of course not! Ahmedinejad couldn’t support a Sunni resistance movement which borders Iran and has more ideological similarities with Saudi and Osama Bin Laden than the Ayatollah. Are we not starting to notice a pattern here? That Ahmedinejad and Iran generally choose due to political (and religious) reasons who, when and how they “offer” help to Islamic resistance groups.
It’s okay if NATO and US troops are killing Muslims in Afghanistan because the last thing Iran wants is a hostile “takfiri” Taliban on their eastern borders, and same with the drone attacks and Black Water operations in Pakistan. But they’ll help majority Shia Iraq who were persecuted under Saddam Hussein because Sunnis and Kurds lived such great lives under Saddam…not.
Ahmedinejad only gave lip service and empty threats when he knew he couldn’t do jack all, but when it did directly affect Iran he did act. In reality, it would be more accurate to say he was a “hero of Iran” and the wider Shia population, than a hero regarded by all Muslims.
Let’s say for arguments sake, that Ahmedinejad was considered a brave, outspoken, anti-imperial leader among Muslims, Sunni and Shia – that all changed after the Syrian uprising in March 2011.
Ahmedinejad’s unreserved support for a brutal, oppressive, un-Islamic Ba’athist dictator for the sake of “survival” over principle, and sectarian preference lost him any credit he had left, especially with Sunnis.
The uprising in Syria was not sectarian to begin with. It began as a popular uprising against the Ba’athist regime of Bashar Al Assad, which became sectarian internally to give credence to Assad who made out the rebellion was an “attack against the motherland by foreign backed terrorists” and externally by Western proxies so they could intervene (Saudi, Qatar and Turkey) for personal gains as opposed to sincere Islamic ones upon orders from their colonial masters.
Nevertheless, the rhetoric from Tehran condoned by Ahmedinejad once again showed that he was anything but a “heroic” leader as Kashif Ahmed suggests. He selectively according to the harm and benefit of Iran and the Shias decided to call anyone who supported the Syrian uprising with legitimate points of grievances against the Assad regime as “takfiris”, “Al Qaeda” or Western backed “terrorists”, “insurgents” and “agents”.
This was the last impression the Muslim world had of Ahmedinejad, someone who only spoke out against injustice and Western imperialism when it suited him and the interests of Iran – so how could he be considered a hero for the whole Ummah?
Hero or hypocrite?
Whilst I’d totally agree that Ahmedinejad could be considered a hero for Iran and the Shias that definitely cannot be applied for the majority of Sunnis.
Without getting into sectarian point scoring, let just admit to facts. Whilst Ahmedinejad spoke of injustices, the rights of the Muslims against oppressive governments (during the Arab Spring and persecution of the Rohingya in Burma), Western imperialism and so forth, what did he actually do?
Send a few missiles to Hezbollah and Hamas? Loads of threats and accusations against the US and Israel but none that actually materialised to military action. Did he send any Revolutionary Guards to fight in Gaza like he did with Syria? Did he help the Taliban who were fighting foreign invaders like Hezbollah were with the Zionist entity? Did he financially and politically support any other uprising or resistance like he did with the regime of Assad?
If the answer to all those questions are no, then unfortunately he cannot be regarded as a “Muslim hero” and it would in fact be an absolute disgrace to title him (or any other ruler) as such and compare him (though Kashif Ahmed didn’t) to some of the great heroes in Islamic history (Khalid bin Walid, Caliph Mu’atasim, Salahudeen al Ayubi, Suleiman the Magnificent, Mehmet Fetih, Omar Mokhtar) who acted upon threats and didn’t selectively support along covert sectarianism.
I wouldn’t even consider Ahmedinejad to be “the best of the worst” rulers, since Muslims should not be so shallow to award such a title. His active stance in support of the Assad regime is enough of a display to show he is anything but a hero for the Muslims, certainly a hero for Bashar and Hassan Nasrallah. I would happily write an article criticising every single ruler from Indonesia to Morocco if anyone had the audacity to claim that we have any “brave heroes” ruling over us at present.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the 5Pillarz editorial board.