A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Iran Arrests Jundullah Leader

Iran claims to have arrested the leader of Jundallah, the Army of God, a Sunni opposition movement that has long carried out attacks in Baluchistan and other parts of southeastern Iran and which I've mentioned previously through the link above. Some of the stories: The National (Abu Dhabi); BBC English (Middle East); Al Jazeera English; and for an Iranian viewpoint, Press TV.

I know little about Jundallah, but I know that Iran has claimed for years that the US has been supporting it and now is saying the captured leader trained at a US base in Afghanistan. I have no idea if that is true and do not assume, as some might, that anything bad someone asserts about the US is true, but I also recognize that there has been, at least prior to Al-Qa‘ida and the occupation of Iraq, a tacit assumption among some in the US' intelligence establishment that Shi‘ism posed more of a threat than Sunnism. It will be a problem for us, however, if we not only did support Jundallah but if its leader can document that in an Iranian show trial.

The biggest issue is not that it would harm our relations with Iran, which are pretty much so far below Dante's ninth circle of hell at the moment that mild alleviation does little, but it could hurt our relations with Shi‘ites elsewhere, particularly in Iraq, where the political situation on the eve of elections and with renewed sectarian clashes is in flux. Iraq may be the reason for the emphasis on the arrest. See: the US is supporting Sunni terrorists and undermining the national unity of the state. Blame the US for fomenting what, at best, they may have been covertly backing.

Whether through our own blunders or Iranian successes, the US is once again drawn to the brink with its Iraqi allies/clients. That would serve Iranian goals far more than any positive local reception gained from friendly relations and a cat got down from a tree by US soldiers. We need to be careful here.

The whole story on which this post is predicated may, and perhaps likely will, prove either peripheral, exaggerated, false or not worth the effort. But there are subtle prejudices coming out of their divisions, but they don't take you closer to Pike's Peak.

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