Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Omar, Bravo!

Michael Ledeen, National Review Online:
The mullahs have had a lot of bad news in recent days — news with a particularly sinister aura, in fact. So sinister that they must be asking themselves what they have done to incur the Divine wrath.

I kid you not. READ MORE

First is the loss of one of their terrorist stars, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the deus ex machina of the terror war against us in Iraq. Not only does that deprive the mullahs of a prime instrument for generating civil war — his constant incitement to the Sunnis to rise up against the Shiites was the cutting edge of their three-year program to turn major Iraqi ethnic and religious groups against one another — but it is a serious blow to recruitment throughout the terror network. It is as bad for them as the beheading videos were good. Potential jihadis want to do the beheading, not suffer the consequences of 500-pound bombs. The quick Iranian deception, pretending they were pleased at the death of Zarqawi, shouldn’t fool anybody. They have lost a basic building block of the terror structure.

Second is the worldwide campaign against terror cells, many of which were linked to Zarqawi, or to Iran itself. Some of the Canadians now in jail in Ontario had been in contact with Zarqawi, and the cell in Sarajevo had longstanding ties to Tehran.

Third is this ominous line from al-Reuters on the occasion of President Bush’s jaunt to Baghdad:
BAGHDAD, June 13 - U.S. President George W. Bush told Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad on Tuesday Iran’s “interference” in Iraq must end, said Iraqi government sources who attended the talks.
Can it be that, at long last, we are going to take steps against the mullahs to save the lives of our fighters and the Iraqi civilians who have been targeted by the terrorists who are armed and manipulated by the Iranians and the Syrians? Faster, please.

But that is nothing compared to the clear message from On High on the soccer fields of Germany. No, I’m not talking about the demonstrations against President Ahmadinejad, I’m talking about the Mexican victory over Iran in the first round of the World Cup.

With the game tied 1-1, a Mexican player named Omar Bravo scored for Mexico, which went on to win 3-1. That name, Omar Bravo, sends chills down the spines of the mullahs. “Bravo” is a universal plaudit, enthusiastic praise for the person to whom the “bravo” is directed. And Omar? Well...Omar is the most hated name in the Shiite lexicon, the symbol of the forces of evil, the incarnation of satanic influence on earth.

And why? Because after the death of the Prophet, Mohammed’s son in law, Ali (the husband of Mohammed’s daughter Fatima) was fighting to become the leader of all Muslims. Ali lost out to Omar Bakr and to Omar, his close adviser and successor as Caliph. To this day, the Shiites believe that Abu Bakr and Omar usurped Ali’s rightful inheritance as ruler of Islam. Not only that, but during the succession struggle Omar burst into Ali’s house, crushing the pregnant Fatima behind the door, leading to the stillbirth of her son. And although Ali formally accepted the elevation of Abu Bakr, and then Omar, the Shiites still speak of Omar with intense hatred. In Iran today, one of the harshest things you can say about another person is Iaanat be’Omar, cursed by Omar.

To a devout Shiite of the sort that governs Iran today, the defeat of the Iranian national team by somebody named Omar Bravo cannot be easily dismissed as a random event. It cannot possibly be a coincidence (it is hard for Iranians to believe that anything is a coincidence), and it is most certainly a terrible augury. Many Iranians will interpret it as a message to the mullahs: just as Ali was defeated by Omar, so your doom has been signaled by a modern Omar. And that “bravo,” can it be an accident? No way.

As I said, tough times for the mullahs. Very tough.

— Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. He is resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute.