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Ayatollah Fidel and Iran's Cuban vacation
by Kathleen Parker
If life were a football game, we'd be commending Muslims for an artful fake.
While half the Muslim world was rioting in reaction to a few unremarkable cartoons - thanks to the fancy footwork of the anti-West Muslim Brotherhood - nuclear-minded Iran was making new kissy sounds with head cheerleader Fidel Castro.
In a little-noticed news item the same week as the riots, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accepted an invitation to visit Cuba in September to show gratitude for Castro's support of Iran's nuclear program. A few days earlier, Cuba, Venezuela and Syria had voted against the International Atomic Energy Agency's resolution to refer Iran to the UN Security Council over its nuclear program.
It is gratifying to see rogue states engaged in a group hug choreographed around the shared goal of bringing the U.S. to its knees, while sane nations busy themselves with debates about the ethics of publishing political cartoons.
While the Cuba visit itself may be of little consequence, the invitation offers a reminder that our Cuban neighbor is ceaselessly working to pursue anti-American foreign policy. It also offers a heads-up that Iran's nuclear aspirations may as well be Cuba's.
The Soviet Union's nuclear option vis-a-vis Nikita Khrushchev and a younger Fidel Castro seem suddenly quaint compared with the havoc that could result should Cuba and Iran consummate their mutual hatred of the U.S.
Iran and Cuba's romance isn't new, of course. Their courtship dates back to the late '70s, when the Ayatollah Khomeini rose to power. In recent years, the odd Islamic-Marxist couple has explored new expressions of affection to mutual benefit: Cuba gives Iran dual-use biotechnology, training and equipment; Iran provides oil to Cuba, as well as an annual $25 million trade credit.
Among Castro's proudest achievements is his Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIBG), a huge research and development enterprise in which he has invested much of his cash-strapped nation's resources and intellectual capital. While some of his shipments to Iran are surely to provide medical drugs for Iranians, skeptical observers suspect there's more than altruism at work.
Dr. Jose de la Fuente, who headed the biotechnology research and development at CIGB through most of the 1990s, wrote in the journal Nature Biotechnology (October 2001):
"There is no one who truly believes that Iran is interested in these technologies (solely) for the purpose of protecting all the children in the Middle East from hepatitis, or treating their people with cheap streptokinase when they suffer sudden cardiac arrest."
What else might biological agents be used for? Biological weapons of mass destruction spring to mind. Where there's a way, there is plenty of will. Speaking to students at the University of Tehran in 2001, Castro praised the Islamic revolution for ousting the shah, then mentioned the "shah of imperialism which is entrenched near my homeland."
To a loud ovation, Castro promised that "... as the shah of Iran was overthrown, this shah too will fall."
Ovations, riots - Islamist passions provide ample fuel for the kind of dreams Castro nurses during his famously fitful few hours of sleep. Dreams that, unfortunately, are shared by much of the Muslim world, as we've witnessed these cartoonish past couple of weeks.
As the story has evolved, it now appears that the so-called clash of civilizations was mostly a case of manufactured outrage created not by sensitive religious leaders, but by secular thugs known as the Muslim Brotherhood. Amir Taheri, writing in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, explained that one of the Brotherhood sheiks issued a fatwa over the cartoons, which was quickly followed by another fatwa from a rival in the Islamic Liberation Party.
Not be left out of the fray, the Movement of the Exiles (Ghuraba) joined in. Followed by Syrian Baathist leaders, who organized attacks on the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus and Beirut. And, voila.
Taheri's view that the "rent-a-mob sackings of embassies" is less about Islam than it is an "outburst of fascist energy" is apparently shared by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who chastised both Iran and Syria this week for stoking passions to shift attention from international pressures on the two countries.
Whatever the motivations behind this orchestrated outrage du jour, the global reaction is a bracing warning to all sleeping giants. Thanks to Cuba's solidarity with Iran and Syria, the insanity taking place "over there" could be coming soon to a Caribbean island near you.
Talk about a riot.
Kathleen Parker is a popular syndicated columnist and director of the School of Written Expression at the Buckley School of Public Speaking and Persuasion in Camden, South Carolina.
2006 Tribune Media Services
Feb 10, 2006
Cortesia de Edduardo Zayas-Bazan