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Can Iran claim to protect Islam whilst Houthis strike Makkah?

One would be forgiven for not knowing that Makkah, the holiest place on Earth to Muslims, was recently attacked. Islam's holiest city had missiles fired at it, not once, but twice last month. It has been over a week since Shia Houthis from Yemen fired what is likely to be Iranian-supplied missiles at the Makkah principality with the munitions landing tens of kilometres from the Sacred House of Allah. Yet why has the world seemingly ignored this clear violation of international law, the laws of war and the sanctity of holy land?

Who can forget how many people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, lost their minds when terrorists associated with Daesh attacked innocent keepers of the peace last Ramadan in Medina, the City of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)? The fact that the attack happened in Medina is bad enough, but what made it unbearably heinous is the fact that it took place right next to the Prophet's Mosque, Islam's second holiest site, and the terrorist took advantage of the hospitality of the Saudi Arabian security forces who invited their killer to break the fast with them.

The world rightfully became incensed that Daesh could commit such an attack. Social media feeds of all kinds of people, not only Muslims, were especially quick to denounce the attack and use it as evidence of how far Daesh were from Islam – condemnation which must be applauded.

Yet why the silence when Houthi terrorists fire missiles that land so close to Makkah? This silence is particularly shameful from those Muslims who are silent almost every time Saudi Arabia, its lands and citizens are attacked, and is even more shameful that they could not muster the outrage that what should be the most beloved place to them was under missile fire from a terrorist organisation.

As I stated just after the terrorists attacked, Houthis firing missiles anywhere near Makkah means that this is not a Saudi Arabian issue, but an Islamic one. Social media and beyond is replete with Muslims who have many objections to Saudi Arabia, whether due to the Kingdom's domestic or foreign policies, and that is their right.

However, having objections to Saudi Arabia as a government does not excuse silence for when The Kingdom is attacked as a people and country. It is even more inexcusable not to put politics to one side when Makkah is attacked, as the protection of Makkah and its honour is the duty of every Muslim, not just the Saudi authorities.

Just because Makkah is under Saudi Arabian custodianship, does that mean other Muslims relinquish their duty towards the most beloved city to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)? Of course not, and what Muslims need to understand is that the place where the Houthi missiles landed was probably land that the Prophet himself walked upon, and is therefore important to all Muslims, not only Saudis.

Sadly, it has become popular to condemn "Sunni extremism" in the form of Daesh, but it is taboo to take a stand against "Shia terrorism". When Daesh attacked Medina, everyone was immediately on it, but when Shia terrorists attack Makkah, people's moral compasses went horribly askew as if suddenly struck deaf, blind and dumb by some miracle. Perhaps someone should start the hashtag #SaudiLivesMatter for the world to start realising that Saudis are people too, not some faceless denizens of some evil empire as the Western leftist media tries to hammer home day and night.

Let us not all forget exactly who is behind the Houthi terrorists who are running amok in Yemen and raiding Saudi Arabia. The so-called Islamic Republic of Iran has backed the Houthi rebels to the hilt, funding them, training them, arming them and diplomatically supporting them in order to make them appear to be actually legitimate rulers of Yemen.

Iran supports the Houthis because they want to control not only what has now become known as a "Shia Crescent" stretching from Tehran to Damascus and ending at the Mediterranean Sea, but they also want to choke off access to the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea by supporting their Shia coreligionists and extremist Houthi brethren.

To that end, Iran has supplied the Houthis with the very same missiles that they used to rain explosives down on Makkah. The Islamic Republic of Iran did that. Yes, the very same country who incessantly and loudly moans about Saudi Arabian patronage of Makkah and Medina and demands for Islam's two holiest cities to be opened to international governance. Can we really take Iranian claims to be champions of Islam and Islamic rights and freedoms seriously after it supported Houthis with the arms to bomb Makkah? Undoubtedly no.

The Houthis and the Iranians have a lot in common with the tenth century Qarmatians, a tribe of brigands who attacked and raided Makkah. The Qarmatians were a menace who defiled the Holy Sanctuary, broke the Black Stone from the Ka'aba, that most important building at the centre of the Islamic faith, and desecrated the Zamzam water wells by dumping corpses in the holy water. They attacked Makkah and the community of Muslims whilst claiming to be the faith's ardent adherents, not too differently from the Houthis and Iranian regime of today.

Similarly, Abraha, a Yemeni monarch whose people were mentioned in the Quran, attempted to demolish the Ka'aba due to his jealousy that it attracted more pilgrims than his church. According to the Quran, Abraha even brought a war elephant to demolish the Ka'aba, but was instead himself destroyed through divine intervention. Perhaps this will be the same fate of the Houthis.

The dehumanisation of Saudi civilians, and Sunni victims of Iranian-backed extremist Shia terrorism in general, must end. Rather than focusing disproportionately on Daesh and similar groups – organisations that are not only denounced but actively fought by Sunnis – the media ought to pay more attention to Iranian-sponsored terrorists.

After all, they are far more numerous than Daesh, far better financed and equipped thanks to Tehran's direct backing, and have been committing atrocities for far longer (just look at 13 years of militia rule in Iraq) but to international silence.

Once equivalence is attained, we may finally start to see justice and stability returning to the Middle East rather than a single-minded focus and demonisation of one side over another.

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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ArticleIranMiddle EastOpinionSaudi ArabiaYemen
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