Jews have learned from painful history that when someone threatens to kill them, they should take it seriously. Therefore, no one should be surprised at the alarm expressed by Israel after hearing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaim, "This origin of corruption [Israel] will soon be wiped off the Earth's face!" and Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i, Iran's Supreme Leader, declaring, "Israel is a cancerous tumor. So what do you do with a cancerous tumor? What can be done to treat a tumor other than removing it?"Some argue Iran would never launch a nuclear attack against Israel because no Muslim leader would risk an Israeli counterstrike that might destroy them. This theory doesn't hold up, however, if the Iranian leadersbelieve there will be destruction anyway at the end of time. What matters, Middle East expert Bernard Lewisobserved, is that infidels go to hell and believers go to heaven. Lewis quotes a passage from Ayatollah Khomeini, cited in an 11th grade Iranian schoolbook, "I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers [the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against the whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all of them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom, which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another's hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours."288Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, believes the most important task of the Iranian Revolution was to prepare the way for the return of the Twelfth Imam, who disappeared in 874, thus bringing an end toMuhammad's lineage. Shiites believe this imam, the Mahdi or "divinely guided one," will return in an apocalyptic battle in which the forces of righteousness will defeat the forces of evil and bring about a new era in which Shi'a Islam ultimately becomes the dominant religion throughout the world. The Shiites have been waiting patiently for the Twelfth Imam for more than a thousand years, but Ahmadinejad may believe he can now hasten the return through a nuclear war. It is this apocalyptic world view, Lewis notes, that distinguishes Iran from other governments with nuclear weapons.There are those who think that Iran would never use such weapons against Israel because innocent Muslims would be killed as well; however, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, Ahmadinejad's predecessor, explicitly said he wasn't concerned about fallout from an attack on Israel. "If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in its possession," he said, "the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world." As one Iranian commentator noted, Rafsanjani apparently wasn't concerned that the destruction of the Jewish State would also result in the mass murder of Palestinians as well.289Iran will not have to use nuclear weapons to influence events in the region. By possessing a nuclear capability, the Iranians can deter Israel or any other nation from attacking Iran or its allies. When Hezbollahattacked Israel in 2006, for example, a nuclear Iran could have threatened retaliation against Tel Aviv if Israeli forces bombed Beirut. The mere threat of using nuclear weapons would be sufficient to drive Israelisinto shelters and could cripple the economy. Will immigrants want to come to a country that lives in the shadow of annihilation? Will companies want to do business under those conditions? Will Israelis be willing to live under a nuclear cloud?If you were the prime minister of Israel, would you take seriously threats to destroy Israel by someone who might soon have the capability to carry them out? Could you afford to take the risk of allowing Iran toacquire nuclear weapons? How long would you wait for sanctions or other international measures to work before acting unilaterally to defend your country?
The threat of a theologically motivated nuclear assault against Israel tends to be downplayed in the West; not so here. The former head of Israel's National Security Council, Giora Eiland, has warned that an apocalyptically driven Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be willing to sacrifice half his country's population to obliterate the Jewish state. Military men suddenly sound like theologians when explaining the Iranian threat. Ahmadinejad, they argue, represents a new "activist" strain of Shiism, which holds that the faithful can hasten the return of the Hidden Imam, the Shia messiah, by destroying evil. Hebrew University Iranian scholar Eldad Pardo goes further, arguing that the ideology founded by Ayatollah Khomeini represents nothing less than a "new religion," combining Shia, Sunni, and Marxist beliefs and resembling Western messianic cults that have advocated mass suicide. And so Ahmadinejad's pronouncements about the imminent return of the Hidden Imam and the imminent destruction of Israel aren't regarded as merely calculated for domestic consumption; they are seen as glimpses into an apocalyptic game plan.
Nuclear Iran: Is the U.S. Really Suicidal?
If the West had studied that important event in Islamic history, they would understand they were enabling Iran to achieve a nuclear bomb and accelerate the national religious war between us, the Arabs, and the Shi'ite Iranians. For Iran's mullahs, the showdown is meant to be apocalyptic.
In that respect, the agreement signed by the American-led powers with Iran's rulers is a milestone along the path they have been praying for. The Ayatollahs' wish has long been finally to defeat the divided Arabs, currently at their weakest point since the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring, and then to move on to defeat Israel, and then grandest prize of all: the "Great Satan," the United States.
The Shi'ite regime of the Ayatollahs in Iran and their proxies are united. And, since the fall of the Shah, they are, sadly, also radical. Between their terrorist wings and influence in the Middle East and abroad, the Ayatollahs are refreshingly open about their determination to defeat the Arabs and achieve religious and national hegemony. Iran's forcing itself on the rest of the world is a central part of Khomeini's Islamic Revolution.
U.S. President Barack Obama has harmed us Arabs by abandoning his own red lines -- against the emphatic advice of his own military advisors -- to accept an agreement that in reality gives the Shi'ites open permission to build nuclear weapons at our expense and, more insanely, to allow Iran intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that could reach America.
Worse, apparently a "side deal" -- classified for Americans but not for Iran -- allows Iran to provide its own soil samples to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to which it has been lying for decades. In other words, having the cat guard the milk.
Still worse, the parties to the agreement are required to help Iran protect its nuclear facilities should anyone try to attack them or sabotage them -- including, presumably, any disenchanted signatories. No wonder Iran's Supreme Leader sent a tweet of Obama pointing a pistol at his own head.
On July 25, 2015, Iran's Supreme Leader (right) sent a tweet of Obama pointing a pistol at his own head.
If we try to look at the positive side of the agreement, it is just possible that Obama looked at the Sunni Islamic states, fractured and at each other's throats, and at the ruthless terrorist groups and all the other battle zones gaining ground, and decided that we were too fractious for the U.S. to protect.
Now, one minute before the Iranians would have collapsed under the weight of the economic sanctions, the U.S. has given them a new lease on life, and, supported by the arrival of billions of dollars, is enabling them to return to their broad international terrorist activities and continue developing their nuclear weapons and the ICBMs on which to mount them.
Not only Iran will profit, but also the Turks, the Chinese and the Russians, who have already jumped at the chance to shore up Iran and themselves, both economically and militarily.
America will be now marginalized, as will its allies. What is in store for America is obvious to anyone listening to the hate speech of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He keeps promising that he will continue fighting against America and Israel, and that Iran will neither stop its nuclear development nor surrender.
Instead of lifting the sanctions, the United States should be increasing them.
When Iran joins the global energy market and strengthens its control of the Gulf maritime route, we, the Arabs, will quickly collapse. The recent visits of the Saudi Arabia foreign minister to American and the American Secretary of Defense to Israel did not help. As the arms embargo and sanctions are lifted, money will begin pouring into Iran. Missiles will be developed that will be capable of reaching first Israel and the Sunni Arab states, then Europe and then the United States. Global terrorism will mushroom. Iran will secretly complete its nuclear project ahead of schedule.
Since the agreement forbids agencies affiliated with America, and now apparently "foreigners," from visiting Iran's nuclear installations, the arms industry of Islamic Republic will flourish, and Iran will have been rewarded for having violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and will be given a red carpeted fast track to build a nuclear bomb.
Bassam Tawil is based in the Middle East.