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f_0022435_18489 - The Persian Illusion A woman passes a...

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Unformatted text preview: The Persian Illusion A woman passes a wall that has been repeatedly spray-painted with anti- government graffiti in Bahrain. AP PHOTO/HASAN JAMALI Middle East Shashank Joshi PAGE 23 THEWORLDTODAY.ORG JUNE 2011 A spectre is haunting the Persian Gulf – the spectre of Persia. The era of the Gulf’s most iconic bête noire, Saudi born and raised Osama bin Laden, has drawn to a close. But outsiders persistently underestimate the degree to which it is a state – the Islamic republic of Iran – rather than a non-state group, al Qaeda, which today captures the strategic attention of those in the corridors of power in Riyadh, Manama, and Amman. d ANGLING A FEW HUNDRED KILOMETRES above the Gulf states, like a geopolitical Sword of Damocles, post-revolutionary Iran has long been the principal strategic concern for the sheikdoms and emirates on the other side of the water. And yet, the strenuous efforts to place Iran at the heart of pro-democracy uprisings reveal a more cynical and self- serving effort at threat inflation, distracting attention from the unavoidable reform agenda dodged for so long by the Gulf autocracies. Of course, the Iranian threat is not without pedigree. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the export of revolution – sudur inquilab – was adopted as official policy. Even after its Office for Global Revolution closed in the late 1980s, Tehran was abetting (mainly, but not exclusively, Shia) armed movements in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, and elsewhere. Saudi Arabia responded in kind by backing the Taliban in Afghanistan, Sunni militias in revolutionary Lebanon, and extremist parties in Pakistan, to mention but a few. Saudi state institutions disseminated a retrograde and radical interpretation of Islam – its Wahhabi variant – around the world drawing, from the 1970s, on their extraordinary oil wealth. Both these sets of actions were largely destabilising and often subversive of nascent democratic currents....
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.

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f_0022435_18489 - The Persian Illusion A woman passes a...

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