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Cue the Dawn Fanfare – part two

Recently it has been reported that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iraqi leader Muqtada al-Sadr are both members of the Twelver sect of Shi’ia. They are among the group with the most extreme view of the role of the Mahdi, also called the Twelfth Imam.

First of all the fact that Muqtada called his militia “the Mahdi Army”, should have been a clue to people who know anything about Islam, and, as Ahmadinejad is known to be an ultra conservative Shi’ia, it should have been assumed that he would belong to the “Twelvers”.

They are the Shi’ia equivalents of evangelical Christians who buy the “Left Behind” books, as they all believe that “judgment is nigh.”

All of this begins with what is possibly the first written story, The Epic of Gilgamesh about a Sumerian king. The story is familiar because parts are repeated in the texts of all of the Abrahamic religions.

Most of the monotheistic religions were born in this same area and written down in Semitic languages. While written in Farsi the texts of Zarathustra were written next door in Persia. All of these people shared the same myths and folk tales around their campfires before they built cities.

There is little to choose between the Christian eschatolgy and Book of Revelation and the belief of the Shi’ia Twelver sect. Unfortunately that means that al-Sadr and Ahmadinejad are no more or less dangerous than Jerry Falwell – not a comforting thought.

A final thought on the reported illness or death of Osama bin Laden. If the report were true and there was no body found, bin Laden would fall into the group of “suspended heroes”, similar to the Twelfth Imam, if at a lower level. The story is a familiar one: Arthur sails to Avalon, Bilbo and Frodo sail to the West. If there’s a great need at a later time, the hero will arise from his slumber under the mountain, or wherever, to aid his people or if required for a sequel. The sleeping hero would be a great propaganda vehicle for al Qaeda.

I have a problem with the story. Bin Laden is a wealthy man, and has been his entire life. He was a world traveler and received the best health care available. As a world traveler he would have had all of the required immunizations for Asia and Africa, as well as Europe, so catching Typhoid fever is unlikely. Further, his number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is not only a planner and video star, he is a physician.

Unless someone gave him a spinach salad, I fear that Osama is still around.

Oh, the Dawn Fanfare was used in 2001: A Space Odyssey, not that Stanley Kubrick implied any connection between his black rock and any other black rock.


1 Karen { 09.25.06 at 11:33 am }

One question I have regarding all these *reports* of an imminent October Surprise attack on Iran (and that it’s already in the works) …I dont have much (any!) background in International Law…but What premise coudld possible justify an attack at this point?

Saddam was given faux WMDs, ties to al Quaeda, etc. – but Iran has done nothing (so far) that merits a direct attack by missles or otherwise. How could this be anything but tantamount to a provocation for WAR (casus belli) on Iran’s part against the U.S.?

2 andante { 09.25.06 at 12:54 pm }

I’ve been very uncomfortable with the “Mahdi Army”, recalling the background in Robert Ludlum’s “The Icarus Agenda”….IIRC, the ‘bad guy’ called himself The Mahdi.

The neocons have opened Pandora’s Box.

3 Bryan { 09.25.06 at 2:37 pm }

Karen, this time there isn’t going to be the twig of a UN expression of concern to hide behind – an attack on Iran will be the equivalent of Pearl Harbor. It will be a war crime.

Andante, a little more than a century ago British general Gordon died at the battle of Khartoum in Sudan in a war with the forces of an earlier claimant to the title of al Mahdi. Periodically a Muslim leader will get carried away with his own PR and declare himself al Mahdi, or a new Salah al-Din, ready to proclaim the age of Islamic glory. These claims get a lot of people killed. [The original Salah al-Din, Yusuf ibn Ayyub, who battled Richard Cœur de Lion in the Crusades was born in Tikrit. The Tikriti, like Saddam, tend to ignore the fact he was a Kurd when they claim a piece of his reflected glory.]