Thursday, February 23, 2006


Iran needs time to complete its nuclear weapons programs, so chaos in Iraq now when American military action may be imminent could provide enough of a distraction just as the Euro diplomacy route appears to be failing at long last. And Iran's lead nutball belives the end of the world will soon arrive when the Twelfth Iman arrives.

So is the consensus that al Qaeda is behind the Samarra shrine attack that smashed its golden dome a little off? Sure, the jihadis want chaos in Iraq, but so does Iran. Even if one of Zarqawi's boys did the deed, could Iran be the sender? Or even a more direct link?

And so is the reaction of Iran's Ahmadinejad to the attacks is perhaps a little forced? An attempt to deflect criticism?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed the United States and Israel on Thursday for the destruction of a Shiite shrine's golden dome in Iraq, saying it was the work of "defeated Zionists and occupiers."

Speaking to a crowd of thousands on a tour of southwestern Iran, the president referred to the destruction of the Askariya mosque dome in Samarra on Wednesday, which the Iraqi government has blamed on insurgents.

"They invade the shrine and bomb there because they oppose God and justice," Ahmadinejad said, alluding to the U.S.-led multinational forces in Iraq.

And speaking in southwest Iran, which is across from Basra which the Iranians have already insisted be freed from the British presence, is a little suspicious, too.

And when Ahmadinejad's good little hand puppet Sadr pipes up, too, isn't this a little worrying?

Radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who cut short a visit to Lebanon after the blast, said blame must be laid either with the Americans or the Iraqi government.

"If responsibility is not in the hands of the Iraqi government, then I consider the responsibility for this event lies with the occupation forces which should either leave immediately or according to a timetable," al-Sadr said in Syria on his way back to Iraq.

Sadr in Syria, too. Well that isn't worrying at all, eh?

And remember that the shrine has a special place in the Shia belief in the end times:

The city is also home to the Al Askariya Mosque, containing the mausoleums of the Ali al-Hadi and Hasan al-Askari, the tenth and eleventh Shia Imams, respectively, as well as the shrine of Muhammad al-Mahdi, known as the "Hidden Imam", who was the twelfth and final Imam of the Shia. This has made it an important pilgrimage centre for Shia Muslims.

Just a coincidence? I sure hope so.

Look, civil war in Iraq would be a problem. But I tend not to worry too about this scenario much since the Shias already control the government and security forces, so why escalate to all-out war? It might be that fear of a real bloodbath will actually get the Sunnis to finally cut a deal before they are ethnically cleansed out of Iraq.

But I do worry about an Iranian offensive--perhaps a Sadr-fronted uprising--to change the course of the Iraq War, hold off American-led attacks on Iran's nuclear programs, capture Basra, and bring on the the appearance of the Twelfth Imam and start the final battle.

Iran may be far closer to having weaponized nukes than I feared. Could they have purchased one or the components for one ahead of their ability to build one? Does Ahmadinejad see the Samarra dome destruction as the beginning of his own domesday scenario?

UPDATE: More (via Austin Bay) on the linkage of the target shrine in Samarra and the end times prophecy:

The city's history is also wound up with an age-old Sunni-Shiite rivalry, as well as with the apocalyptic beliefs of many Shiite clerics, like Sadr. The shrine contains the tombs of Ali al-Hadi and his son Hasan al-Askari, the 10th and 11th imams of Shiite Islam who died in the 9th century. Legend has it that Askari's son, Muhammad al-Mahdi, was born in the city. It is one of four main Shiite pilgrimage sites in Iraq.

Mahdi was the 12th and final of the Shiite imams. Legend has it that he was "occulted" by God before his death, and will return to earth to bring an era of justice and peace, followed by the end of the world. Sadr's militia is named for this imam.

Sadr and his followers are convinced that the time for the Mahdi's return is close. "He disappeared into a supernatural realm from there ... so this will be interpreted as an attack on the imam al-Mahdi, an attack on their guy; so for the Sadr people it's an apocalyptic moment,'' says Cole. "There will be reprisals."

There was also outrage in Iran, the most populous Shiite state, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, is a deep believer in the looming return of the Mahdi.

I'm sure as heck no expert on this, but the connection is suspicious.

And speaking of suspicious events that would benefit Iran and possibly buy them the time to go nuclear:

Suicide bombers in explosives-laden cars attempted to attack an oil processing facility that handles about two-thirds of Saudi Arabia's petroleum output on Friday, but were stopped when guards opened fire on them, causing the cars to explode, officials said.

Sure, I may be hyper-sensitive, but given that this is the first-ver attack of this type in Saudi Arabia though the jihadis have long wanted to hammer the Kingdom's oil wealth, who might have provided a little extra help to get them as far as they got?

If Iran is hip deep in these events I will not be surprised. They have the means and motives, I dare say. So who strikes first?