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Saudi supports terrorism? Look who's talking, Iran

In a rather bizarre tirade published in the New York Times earlier this week, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister and top diplomat, urged the international community to "rid the world of Wahhabism", doing his utmost to use thinly-veiled sectarian rhetoric whilst trying to come across as a champion of humanity and moderation. Zarif accused Saudi Arabia of being a proliferator and supporter of an ideology that has been adopted by terrorists the world over, including Al-Qaeda.

Zarif's comments caused eyebrows to climb high upon many a brow. After all, is this not the same Iran that has been itself behind one of the most virulently sectarian and violent ideologies that has brought untold misery to countless people around the world? The brutal and violent effect of the Iranian brand of political Islam can be most clearly perceived in Iraq and Syria, where hundreds of sectarian militias rule a savage landscape.

Judging by his comments, one would think that Zarif represented the pluralistic, free and transparent Scandinavian country of Sweden rather than Iran, home of the theological Wilayat Al-Faqih, or "Guardianship of the Jurist", political ideology that has codified the exportation and spread of the so-called Islamic Revolution of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in its constitution.

Indeed, the preamble to the Iranian constitution quite clearly calls for the Iranian military, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), to "be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also of fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad in the way of Allah…extending the sovereignty of Allah's law throughout the world" – an ambitious mission statement for a country, to say the least.

Through the IRGC and prominent military leaders such as Brigadier General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the notorious Quds Force, Tehran has propagated a reign of sectarian terror across the Middle East. Iran directly finances, arms and trains groups such as the Lebanese Hezbollah, led by Hassan Nasrallah, who are wading neck-deep in the blood of the Syrian people in order to prop up the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad.

This is of course not forgetting the fact that Iran makes liberal use of Shia militias from all over the world in order to provide foot soldiers for its holy mission of spreading the creed of Khomeini around the planet. One need only look to the many Iraqi Shia militias that are under the control of Soleimani, as well as Afghan Shia mercenaries like the Fatemiyon Brigade, who shed blood in order to gain money as well as to escape incarceration in Iranian jails.

Recently, Iran even established a "Shia Liberation Army" (SLA) that it said would be placed directly under Soleimani's command and would be comprised of wholly non-Iranian Shia personnel. According to former Iranian General Mohammad Ali Falaki, the objective of the clearly sectarian SLA would be to fight in Arab lands, adding that the SLA was already active in three fronts; Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

On the subject of Iraq, Iranian support for extremist Shia groups is not only convenient, but it is policy. Iran has been the veritable backbone of militant groups such as the Badr Organisation, Harakat Al-Nujaba (HHN), Asaib Ahl Al-Haq (AAH) and countless others. This is of course not to mention political parties such as the ruling Dawa Party that has held sway in Iraq since the US illegally invaded and then occupied the country based on lies about WMDs and support for terrorism.

The Shia-dominated, and verifiably sectarian, Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) organisation (that includes the militias named above plus many more) is also being groomed to be an Iraqi version of the IRGC. A commander in the PMF was interviewed last month whilst he was meeting with Western officials in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, and he explicitly stated that "we will be an alternative army subordinated to the state, just like Iran's [IRGC]."

Therefore it is clear that Iran is not only behind terrorist militias operating with impunity in Iraq and being involved in a wide-array of summary executions of prisoners, assassinations, extortion, torture and kidnapping of innocent Iraqi civilians due to their sect or affiliations, but that it is now even trying to create a clone of itself within Iraq's borders that is subservient to the present Guardian Jurist, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself.

Iran not only supports extremist Shia, but it seems to have a soft spot for radical Sunni groups too. According to analysts, Iran aided and abetted Al-Qaeda operatives by providing them with crucial intelligence to evade US counter-terrorism agencies before the infamous 9/11 attacks that claimed the lives of 3,000 Americans.

Iran also gave succour to now-deceased Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, renowned for his violent sectarianism that targeted Iran's Iraqi coreligionists, and allowed him to build and strengthen his network. According to some sources based on leaked German intelligence, Al-Zarqawi utilised travel documents that the Iranians quite possibly procured for him.

The above definitively shows how Iran itself is guilty of supporting so-called "Wahhabism", the Sunni analogue of the Shia "Safavism" label that the Iranians so despise, a reference to the Shia empire that was so often a thorn in the side of the Sunni Ottomans. This support for extremist Sunni terrorism, especially Al-Qaeda, has continued up until recently, with the US authorities placing sanctions of senior Al-Qaeda terrorists currently located in Iran.

Zarif's country has been responsible for some of the gravest human rights violations in the Middle East's recent history, not to mention its infallible record as the world's largest state-sponsor of terror. Unfortunately for Iran, historical fact does not fall by the wayside just because US President Barack Obama has been cosying up to Tehran's mullahs in recent years. Therefore, and as Zarif should know by now, those who live in glass houses ought not to throw stones.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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