This is not a joke or an example of sarcasm; rather this is to commiserate with the recent statement issued by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that there are signals from Tehran that the Iranians are prepared to bring positive ideas to the table regarding their nuclear program, pointing to an Iranian fatwa prohibiting the country from possessing nuclear weapons.
Therefore, so long as Iran is taking fatwas into account with regard to its policies, perhaps it would be better if we established a security council for fatwas!
Over the past three decades, since the Khomeinist revolution, Iran has been prepared to utilize religion, sectarianism and even the Palestinian cause, as playing cards in order to infiltrate our region, as well as to divide Arab states from within; Tehran is doing this today in Iraq and Yemen, whilst it previously did this in Lebanon via Hezbollah, and this is not to mention the role it played in dividing the Palestinians. Therefore if Tehran is prepared to do all this in the name of religion and sectarianism, how can we trust the statements made by the Iranian Supreme Guide that there is a fatwa against nuclear arms? If they want to convince us that religion should serve as a source of trust in Iran, why has Tehran created strife, conflict and division in “friendly and sisterly” Islamic states? If religion truly were the guarantor of Iran’s behavior, why did Tehran sponsor the terrorist Imad Mughniyah? Why did Iran sponsor and engage with the terrorist Al-Qaeda organization? Tehran has sponsored and engaged with Sunni and Shiite terrorists alike, over the past decades, and these are the same terrorists whose hands are stained with the blood of the innocent, via terrorist suicide operations, and others; so after all this, how can we trust Tehran, simply on the basis of a religious fatwa? How can we invoke a fatwa issued from a regime that does not hesitate to deal with terrorists, whether Sunni or Shiite? This is truly absurd!
The problem with the Obama administration is that it wants to pursue policies that may be acceptable to the day-dreaming cultural elite, but not to regimes that are full of cunning and deceit, like the Iranian regime, whose primary objectives do not include development, openness, humanitarian values, the well-being of its citizens, or even religious tolerance; rather all that the Iranian regime — and the ideology behind it — cares about is expansion and infiltrating other countries, for sectarian motives. Since the world is ruled by international laws and conventions, as well as interests, it is absurd to talk about an Iranian fatwa when negotiating with Tehran, for countries — like individuals — have reputations and histories that cannot be ignored, therefore the reputation of a bad country, like the reputation of a bad individual, is not based on statements or fatwas, but rather past deeds! Therefore, when US Secretary of State Clinton talks about the Iranian fatwa, we can be certain that she has not heard about Iranian taqqiya )the practice of precautionary dissimulation emphasized in Shiite Islam whereby adherents may conceal their religion when under threat)! Tehran has a history of failing to comply by its pledges and agreements, and the best example here is the visit paid by the Iranian President (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) to the Emirati Abu Musa Island that is under occupation by Iran, for despite all the Iranian-Emirati agreements regarding a truce to precede negotiations and dialogue, Tehran failed to respect its pledge; therefore if the president of the country fails to abide by his word, how can we believe the country itself will abide by this fatwa?
In reality, the claim that we can rely on a fatwa that prohibits the possession of nuclear weapons, reminds us of the famous Arab proverb: “the thief was asked to swear (his innocence), and he swore (falsely) and said “yes, this is the way out [of the predicament]!” If this fatwa is one of the merits of dialogue with Iran, then by God we are truly facing a disaster in the region!
The author is editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org