Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Matthias Küntzel on Iran and Germany

Will somebody please reassure me that this is wrong!

In pondering the behavior of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I cannot help but think of the 500,000 plastic keys that Iran imported from Taiwan during the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88. At the time, an Iranian law laid down that children as young as 12 could be used to clear mine fields. Before every mission, a plastic key would be hung around each of the children’s necks. It was supposed to open for them the gates to paradise.

The “child-martyrs” belonged to the so-called “Basij” movement created by the Ayatollah Khomeini. The Basij Mostazafan – the “mobilization of the oppressed” – were volunteers of all ages that embraced death with religious enthusiasm. They provided the model for the first Hezbollah suicide bombers in Lebanon. To this day, they remain a kind of SA of the Islamic revolution. Sometimes they serve as a “vice squad”, monitoring public morals; sometimes they rage against the opposition – as in 1999, when they were used to break the student movement. At all times, they celebrate the cult of self sacrifice.

Matthias Küntzel is an author and a political scientist whom I have linked before. He doesn't sound like a nut case. His writing has the even tone of an academic who tends to understate rather than exaggerate. And he's on the ground in Europe which gives him a closer perspective than we have in America. My earlier post referred to something he wrote a year ago linking European antisemitism with that of the Middle East. I linked to something like a blog at the time, and tonight I came across this...

Ahmadinejad forms part of the first generation of Basiji militants and still today he is often to be seen wearing a Basiji uniform. He would like to bring about a renaissance of the Basiji culture of the 1980s – in order, among other things, to combat the burgeoning Western-oriented youth movement that has, for instance, given rise to some 700,000 weblogs in the last years. Thus Ahmadinejad made a personal appeal this year for Iranians to participate in the annual “Basiji Week” that took place in late November. According to a report in the newspaper Kayan, some 9 million Basiji heeded the call, “forming a human chain some 8,700 kilometers long in which President Ahmadinejad also took part. In Tehran alone, some 1,250,000 people were mobilized.” (Cited in Wahied Wahdat-Hagh, „Bassiji: die revolutionäre Miliz des Iran“, on MEMRI Deutschland.) Ahmadinejad used the occasion to praise the “Basij culture and the Basij power” with which “ Iran today makes its presence felt on the international and diplomatic level”. Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, Chair of the Guardian Council, went so far as to describe the very existence of Iran’s nuclear program as “a triumph of the young people who serve the Basij movement and possess the Basiji-psyche and Basiji-culture.” He added: “We need an army of 20 million Basiji. Such an army must be ready to live for God, to die along the way of God, and to conduct Jihad, in order to please God.”

Is the Iranian population being thus prepared for the announced nuclear war against Israel? Three years ago, the then Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani explained that a single atom bomb used against Israel “would leave nothing on the ground”, whereas the damage done by a possible retaliatory strike would be limited (
source: MEMRI Special Dispatch, 3 January 2002). Even with a million dead, the Islamic world would survive, whereas Israel would be destroyed. Thus the logic of Rafsanjani’s argument. It is this murderous calculation – the sort of calculation that lies at the base of every suicide attack – that distinguishes the atomic ambitions of Iran from the interests of all existing nuclear powers.

There is more. And it is disturbing. This is a description of evil on a very large and well-orgnized scale. Read the rest.
In short, he puts together a description of a neo-Axis with Germany and Iran as the basis rather than German and Italy. Pretty disturbing.

Here is the Wikipedia reference to Basij.

Basij (or Baseej) is a Iranian voluntary militia force, which was founded by Late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in May of 1979. Basij is currently a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Sepah. They are armed and work with other other law enforcement entities to enforce Iran's Islamic codes; Basij a branch in almost every Iranian mosque .. Although military forces cannot interfere in politics according to the Iranian law, Baseej has played a very active role in supporting Islamic hardliners since the end of Iran-Iraq war. According to Islamic Republics statistics 15 percent of the the population are member of this organisation this could be possible considiring 74 percent of the population are below the age of 30 however the active members are likely to be a lot less. The Basijis are a hated figure in the Iranian society they are commonly knowen as the government thugs who violently opress the people, spy on youth gathering such as parties (mix gender western style parties involving youth's are outlawed officially in Iran) and take part in oppressing the anti government demonstrations usually orginised by the University students which usually turns violent.

Sorry. I am not reassured.
This strikes me as a deeply entrenched and very dangerous phenomenon. If they are, in fact "hated" but no one has figured out a way to control or eliminate them, that opposition may as well be non-existant.

Roger Simon says...Basij is everywhere in Iran, in mosques, schools and government institutions. Just like Hizbullah, they claim to represent the Shia and have enough followers to back that claim. Their legitimacy comes from the Iranian constitution and the constant support of the Iranian government. Even reformist President Mohammad Khatami would often say that there is no "reconstruction" in Iran without Basij.

Anton Efendi says... Fellow Lebanese blogger Kais has quite an interesting post comparing Hizbullah to the Iranian Basij, and noting their negative impact on the Shiite community in Lebanon, and on Lebanon as a whole. Criticism of Hizbullah has been growing more bold and vocal, and I've noted and linked to several of the most devastating articles. The more they continue like this, the more they will continue to lose support in the Shiite community. But that's why they have made sure to silence all voices of Shiite dissent, and why they will not give up their weapons. They know that's their only source of power.

Here is a Radio Free Europe piece about the Basij...
The Basij Resistance Force, a paramilitary organization connected with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, appears to be undergoing something of a revival under the administration of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. (More at the link)

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