Jewish World Review July 24, 2003 / 24 Tamuz, 5763

Jonathan Gurwitz

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Strange bedfellows are a
sure sign of rocky times | When Ayatollah Khomeini led the Islamic revolution that deposed the Shah of Iran in 1979, the new Islamic republic's hostility toward the hedonistic West in general and the United States in particular was clear.

Beyond Khomeini's rhetoric about the "Great Satan," the American people were treated to 444 days of hostages held in the American Embassy, with attendant daily protests against the United States and chants of "death to America," all as Iranian Revolutionary Guards looked on approvingly.

Beyond its own borders, Iran supported terrorist groups such as Hezbollah that attacked the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, killing 241 American servicemen, and was responsible for a string of murders of American citizens, including Marine Lt. Col. Rich Higgins, who was kidnapped while serving with United Nations forces, tortured and hanged by his Iranian-backed captors.

Hezbollah continues to be an impediment to the reconstruction of a prosperous Lebanon, and along with Hamas — which also receives Iranian support — is committed to smothering the nascent prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

While the Iranian mullahs' antipathy toward the United States and "Western values" has been clear from the beginning, its relationship with the communist world and the former Soviet Union is less obvious.

In January 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini sent a delegation to Moscow with a personal letter to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev predicting the collapse of communism and warning that "the basic problem of your country is not the issue of ownership, economics or liberty. Your problem is a lack of true faith in God, the same problem that has driven, or will drive, the West to worthlessness and dead end."

But if, on the face of it, Khomeini and the clerical rulers of Iran claimed to be true and uncompromising defenders of Islam, their drive to acquire nuclear weapons and desire to confront the United States has proved them to be quite accommodating to communists in Cuba and North Korea and their ideological successors in the former Soviet Union.

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The Iranian government, for instance, has soft-peddled Russia's brutal war against Islamic militants in Chechnya.

The reason for this prevarication has nothing to do with Allah or the Koran, and everything to do with access to the Russian defense establishment — where hard-line communists still hold sway — and Russian nuclear technology.

While North Korea is today the world's finest exemplar of anti-religious and anti-individualistic Stalinism, it is also one of the Islamic republic's most convenient partners in the illicit development of weapons of mass destruction.

Some of North Korea's efforts to produce enriched uranium, as well as tests on long-range missile engines, have been conducted in Iran. The Iranians in turn are receiving North Korean expertise in building centrifuges for producing enriched uranium and critical data for developing their own missiles.

The Shahab-3, which Iran successfully tested last month, has a range that now allows the Iranian military to strike Israel as well as U.S. forces in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Faced with a rising tide of demonstrations for democracy, demands for reform and calls for the separation of mosque and state, the Iranian mullahs have responded just as their anti-religious comrades have always done — mass arrests for crimes against the state and suppression of all forms of dissent.

In this effort, they are being assisted by communism's longest surviving relic, Fidel Castro. The Cuban dictator is jamming U.S.-based satellite broadcasts of television stations owned by Iranian Americans and Farsi-language Voice of America programming, eliminating some of the most critical sources of information for the Iranian pro-democracy movement.

Politics, of course, makes strange bedfellows. But when the leaders of one of the world's most theocratically oppressive governments routinely align themselves with godless communists, it's a sure sign that if the end is not near for the Iranian mullahs, they certainly think it is, and will do anything to take the United States and its allies down with them.

JWR contributor Jonathan Gurwitz, a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, is a co-founder and twice served as Director General of the Future Leaders of the Alliance program at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. In 1986 he was placed on the Foreign Service Register of the U.S. State Department. Comment by clicking here.


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03/28/03: Constitutionally protected SOBs
03/25/03: Morality changes with the times
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02/27/03: Blood already on UN inspectors' hands

© 2003, Jonathan Gurwitz