Why is Iran supporting Hezbollah?

Many Iranians are complaining about Iran helping Hezbollah in Lebanon, often emphasizing that there are enough poor and needy people in Iran more worthy of support.

While it´s true that there are indeed many poor people in Iran, we should keep in mind that Irans financial problems are not due to money „wasted“ on funding Hezbollah but mainly to – largely unjustified –  western sanctions. Irans loss from being disconnected from the international payment system and from the extreme sanction based decline of foreign direct investments is in the tens of Billions.

Hezbollah is Irans extended front line with Israel. Without this „artificial border“ Iran would not be able to deter Israel from attacking Iranian facilities by making use of US provided long range bombers.

Thus, when the civil war in Syria broke out and took a clearly sectarian tone by attracting foreign Shia- and Iran-hating Jihadists, both Iran and Hezbollah understood the existential threat. It was no coincidence that Israel immediately supported the „rebellion“ in Syria (while at the same time treating stonethrowing Palestinian youth as „terrorists“).
Irans support for the Syrian government is neither because of the former being led by an Alawite (often wrongly called a „Shia sect“) nor with the purpose of expanding Shia Islam or suppressing Sunnis. If Irans motivations were „sectarian“ then why did the country support Sunni Afghans (Massouds Northern Alliance) and Arabs (Hamas)? Why the support for Sunni Europeans (Bosnians) in the Balcan wars?
Irans support for Syria has three main reasons:
1. During the Iran-Iraq war Syria supported Iran, while all Arab middle east and Gulf states supported Iraq with money and arms, sometimes even with fighters.
2. Syria shares a border with Israel and constitutes another remote front line for Iran in case of a war with Israel.
3. Syria is the only land route to Southern Lebanon. Without an Iran friendly government in Damascus Hezbollah would not last long in any conflict.

The departure of the Syrian army from Lebanon in 2005 marked the rise of Salafi militants in that country. These forces have at times not only attacked Hezbollah but also engaged the Lebanese army.
As early as in the first months of the start of the Syrian war Salafi militants from Lebanon were intruding Syria and attacking the police and armed forces.

Iranian military strategists recognized the threat immediately: A sectarian insurgency enjoying the support of western powers, Israel, Turkey and the Gulf States, getting arms, funds, equipment and training from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the CIA while being romanticized and whitewashed by western and arab mainstream media would overpower the Syrian government. It was only a question of time.

As predictable as the pending fall of the Syrian ally was, it was also clear that the various backers of the insurgency shared one motivation: hatred of Iran and – as far as the Gulf states were concerned  – the Shia.
Iran could not afford to wait and see waves of foreign Jihadis arrive in Syria to not only „liberate“ the country from the „Nusayri infidels“ (derogatory term for Alawites) but in a further step move on to defeat the „Rafidhi“ (derogatory term for Shias) Hezbollah nearby in Lebanon.

What would happen next?
Since 2003 Iraq has been experiencing years of relentless bombings and massacres against the Shia majority (mostly civilians and including Sunnis living among Shias) carried out by radical islamists, many of them Arabs from Gulf countries. To make things worse Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), presumed dead, resurfaced as ISIS and intensified devastating terror attacks and warfare both in Syria and Iraq.
It was not far fetched to assume that after defeating the Syrian army and Hezbollah Syrias sectarian insurgency  would export the emerging „caliphate“ to Iraq to fight and defeat the Shia government. Despite the Shia making up some 70-75% of the Arab Iraqis the fall of the formally Sunni Saddam government was a thorn in Saudi Arabias eyes and continues to be hardly acceptable even 14 years later.

Iran had and has no interest in having hordes of sectarian „Majoos“ (derogatory term for Iranians used by Arabs) hating islamists on its borders. The decision to dispatch Hezbollah to the Syrian battlefields was nothing but the correct anticipation of an upcoming deadly menace to Irans security and territorial integrity.
In Syria Hezbollah continues to suffer casualties but has managed to contribute heavily to the survival of the government and the rolling back of the jihadists. Hezbollah engaged and defeated both Al Qaeda and Isis in Lebanon as well as on Syrian battle fronts. Without Hezbollah fighting Isis near the Iraqi border in eastern Syria the Iraqi army would have a much harder time defeating Isis in Mossul.

Hezbollahs proven capabilities in assymetrical warfare are a major reason why so far Israel has refrained from attacking Iran.
Plus, as mentioned, Hezbollah managed to severely weaken the anti-Iranian, predominantly Salafi insurgency in Syria and choke off any domino effects leading to the reestablishment of an anti-Iranian government in Iraq.

The pro-western liberal and secular democracy after Assad – Really?

Most of the relevant fighting on the rebel side of the Syrian war has been done by the Nusra Front, and the similarly Al Qaeda minded Ahrar al Sham and Jaish al Islam, not to mention many other Al Qaeda or IS splinter groups including Chechen, North African or other Central Asian fighters.
The remnants of the so called „moderates“ have almost never hesitated to work closely with Al Nusra or even IS when it deemed necessary. Therefore all the occasional „bond breakings“ of the so called „Southern Front“ with Al Nusra cannot be taken seriously. One day they announce to have broken all ties with Nusra and opposing them, but when the Syrian army captures two villages they call for Nusra to help.

Now, nobody but extremely naive people believes that the radical and mostly sectarian islamists who bore the brunt of the fighting will lay down their weapons and quit the political field once Assad is defeated and gone/killed. These people have never fought for anything remotely resembling a „western“ civil state with democratic institutions and human rights implementation. Those who demonstrated against Assad will find out (just as Iranians post 1979 and Libyans after Ghaddafi) that what they have gotten is much worse than what they had.
And just like post-Soviet Afghanistan and post-Ghaddafi Libya the many militias will not let anyone disarm them.

The failure in Iraq was „explained“ with the Shia-Sunni conflict, but where are the Shia in Egypt? How many Shias live in Libya? Are the Afghan Shia a relevant force to claim that Taliban enjoy support to „counter balance“ them?
I know that Arab leaders and media are very creative in connecting Iran with any problem in their countries but is Iran „meddling“ in Egypt or Libya? Is Boko Haram in Nigeria or al Shabab in Somalia a „reaction“ to „Iranian expansionism“? Are takfiri groups in Kashmir or in Pakistan suffering from Iranian or „Shia oppression“?

Only complete idiots claim that with the departure of Assad and the victory of the „revolution“ peace and prosperity will return and prevail. Just see how Afghanistan fares, 14 years after „liberation“, after the mission being „accomplished“. And just judge for yourself whether Al Qaeda has been weakened after 14 years of the (seemingly endless) „war on terror“, after killing Bin Laden and after drone assassinations of dozens of Al Qaeda „top commanders“ in Africa, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

„Top Priority“ in Syria: Removing Assad (according to Samantha Power and others)

Samantha Power – US ambassador to the UN – says Assad is the major problem in Syria, because, had it not been for his (barrel) bombing, Jihadists would not come to Syria to fight for ISIS:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/05/05/samantha_power_assad_must_go_before_isis_problem_can_be_solved.html

This is dishonest nonsense: If the US is concerned about Jihadists operating in Syria it should have put pressure on Turkey to not allow them to use that country as a hub to enter Syria. The same bearded islamist fighters that the US has been killing with drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan have been openly and freely gathering on the Turkish side of the border and moving into Syria without being stopped by Turkish border guards:
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/an-obvious-first-step–close-the-jihadis-highway-9687899.html

Qatar and Saudi Arabia purchased and sent thousands of tonnes of weapons to Syrian rebels as late as 2012:
„The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.“
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/world/middleeast/arms-airlift-to-syrian-rebels-expands-with-cia-aid.html?_r=0

In the same year France violated a UN weapons ban and delivered weapons including heavy weapons (rocket launchers) to the rebels:
http://rt.com/news/256085-hollande-arms-syrian-rebels/

Jihadists would have not been enabled and encouraged to fight without such constant flow of weapons:
„…what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida…funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria.“
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line

It was not Assad as „terror magnet“ that brought tens of thousands of international Jihadists to Syria, but Saudi and Qatari money, American, british and French weapons supplies and Turkish/Jordanian facilitations as border countries along with Israels not so covert sabotaging of Syrias military that allowed Jihadists to arm themselves, enter Syria and strengthen due to the weakening of the Syrian army.
The idea that the United States and Israel care for Sunni Arab lives and wellbeing is more than hypocritical, it is bizarre. Israel carries out operations that kill thousands of Palestinian civilians in the course of few weeks and destroy infrastructure worth billions of USD:
„Looking only at the major military operations of the Israeli army in the last 7 years it turns out that some 2700 Palestinian civilians were killed, while only 8 (eight) Israeli civilians were killed.“
https://radioyaran.com/2015/02/27/why-is-iran-called-terror-supporter-but-turkey-not/

The US supports Israel, justifies and legitimizes its actions, delivers the weapons and resupplies the ammunition. Israel has used phosphorus and cluster ammunition against Palestinians. The Palestinian victims of Israels are not labeled „activists“, nor „freedom fighters“. They are not even called resistance fighters or rebels, they are TERRORISTS.
But while Israel treats Palestinian children and minors as „terrorists„, the Israeli government suddenly is full of sympathy with bearded islamist Syrians who are portrayed as righteous men fighting against a dictatorship and for freedom and democracy:
https://radioyaran.com/2015/03/15/israel-admits-helping-al-qaeda-nusra-front-against-syria/
http://217.218.67.233/photo/20150305/f774c5b8-d3d3-4069-bfab-0f7342d421a3.jpg
The rise of sectarian radical islamists in Syria, both syrian and international Jihadists is neither a coincidence nor an „accidental“. It is according to a systematic long term plan to destroy pro-Russian and/or pro-Iranian governments opposed to Israel. The Syrian government brings all the ingredients to draw the wrath of the Americans, the Israelis and the Sunni Gulf states. The Americans and the Israelis – along with their European ever „yes saying“ allies – pretend to be moved by human rights violations, while everyone familiar with the fate of Palestinians since 1948 and that of the Iraqi since 1991 knows that both, the US and Israel, do not care at all for Muslim Arab lives.
The Gulf Arabs hate Assad and the Syrian government because of it´s pro-Iranian character. All allegations of torture and repression raised against Assad are unconvincing, given that the Gulf states as well as Turkey had relations with Syria until 2011 and were regularly meeting Assad. Had Assad agreed to allow the Qatari gas pipeline to go through Syria, the Qataris had not unleashed the Muslim Brotherhood against the Syrian government:
„In 2009 – the same year former French foreign minister Dumas alleges the British began planning operations in Syria – Assad refused to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar that would run a pipeline from the latter’s North field, contiguous with Iran’s South Pars field, through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey“
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/aug/30/syria-chemical-attack-war-intervention-oil-gas-energy-pipelines

 

How Iran is (NOT) „destabilizing“ the Middle East

„Take the New York Times…It’s a thinkpiece, by Peter Baker, one of their main analysts. He discusses in it the main reasons to distrust Iran, the crimes of Iran. It’s very interesting to look at. The most interesting one is the charge that Iran is destabilizing the Middle East because it’s supporting militias which have killed American soldiers in Iraq. That’s kind of as if, in 1943, the Nazi press had criticized England because it was destabilizing Europe for supporting partisans who were killing German soldiers. In other words, the assumption is, when the United States invades, it kills a couple hundred thousand people, destroys the country, elicits sectarian conflicts that are now tearing Iraq and the region apart, that’s stabilization. If someone resists that tact, that’s destabilization. “
http://rt.com/usa/250729-complete-chomsky-rt-interview/

Netanyahus nonsensical speech to the US Congress

„In a speech to US Congress punctuated by standing ovations, Benjamin Netanyahu depicted Iran as a „threat to the entire world“.“
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31716684

Raising claims and making the wildest accusations is easy, but on what grounds does Netanyahu want to substantiate his claim or even prove it?
Unlike Israel, Iran…
– has not attacked any country for 200 years
– does not occupy foreign territory
– has no nuclear weapons

Yes, it´s true: Iran has no nuclear weapons and there are not even indications that Iran plans to build a bomb. This is not a mere claim by „naive“ people who turn a blind eye on obvious truths but an assertion based on solid facts provided by the best people qualified to judge the situation and make statements: The „National Intelligence Estimate“ (NIE), the creme de la creme of the American intelligence community:

„Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies. “
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/25/world/middleeast/us-agencies-see-no-move-by-iran-to-build-a-bomb.html?_r=0

„“This deal doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, it paves Iran’s path to the bomb,“ Mr Netanyahu said, claiming Iran could have 100 nuclear bombs within five years.“
Well, why should one still trust Netanyahu?
First of all, he has been giving the same warnings for two decades now, even in the time when he was the leader of the opposition to former Premier Minister Rabin in the mid 90s.
„According to various Israeli government predictions over the years, Iran was going to have a bomb by the mid-90s — or 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, and finally 2010. More recent Israeli predictions have put that date at 2011 or 2014.“
http://www.salon.com/2010/12/05/israeli_predictions_iranian_nukes/

Also: „Netanyahu in 1992: Iran close to having nuclear bomb
Imminent Iran nuclear threat? A timeline of warnings since 1979.

Second, Israels own secret service Mossad is contradicting Netanyahu:
„…the Mossad memo…dated October 22, 2012…contradicted the Israeli leader’s U.N. speech on several critical points of fact, including how far away Iran was from bomb-making capacity and whether it even had the ability to produce weapons-grade uranium.“
http://forward.com/articles/215562/benjamin-netanyahu-s-iran-exaggerations-now-clea/?utm_content=DailyNewsletter_TopArea_Position-2_Headline&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Weekly%20%2B%20Daily&utm_campaign=Weekly_Newsletter_Friday%202015-02-27

Third, his most recent lie angered the US state department:
„The state department later complained about Mr Netanyahu’s claim that Mr Kerry had „confirmed last week that Iran might legitimately possess“ 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium by the end of any deal and would be „weeks away“ from an „arsenal of nuclear weapons“.

The state department said: „That’s not what Kerry said. He [said]: ‚If you have a civilian power plant that’s producing power legitimately and not a threat to proliferation, you could have as many as 190,000.““
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31722493

Apparently many high ranking members of Israels military and intelligence community do not share Netanyahus paranoic concerns:
„Iran doesn’t pose an “existential threat” to Israel, as stated by Mossad director Tamir Pardo in a December 2011 speech and repeated since then by former IDF chief Dan Halutz and former Mossad director Efraim Halevy.“
In his speech Netanyahu plunges into the history of antiquity to prove a supposed and ongoing Persian hostility towards Jews by referring to the story of Esther:
„We’ll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.“

Netanyahus twisting of the story is brazen beyond imagination:
1. If Persians hated Jews why and how was Esther a „queen“ in the Persian (Achaemenid) empire?
2. Esther, a single Jewish woman was not in a position to save the Jews. It was in fact the Persian emperor Xerxes who had the power to disempower Haman and leave the Jews unharmed.
3. Cyrus, the Great, Xerxes grand father and founder of the Persian dynasty rescued the Jews from the babylonian captivity. The story is even included in the Bible.
4. Above all, from a historical point of view the story seems to be an invention as outlined here: http://www.lobelog.com/purim-when-bad-history-makes-bad-policy/

Netanyahu laments that Americans have been killed through Iranian proxies in Lebanon and Iraq, but:
– The last time lebanese Hezbollah harmed any Americans was in the 1980s and it happened in Lebanon. Hezbollah did not attack the US elsewhere, let alone in America
– Iran has not killed any Americans in the last 30+ years. Even the hostages were all released unharmed in 1981
– Israel has indeed killed Americans
http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/ussliberty.html
http://www.veteranstoday.com/2012/06/07/alan-hart-israels-attack-on-the-uss-liberty-the-full-story/
– Many American soldiers died in Iraq and Afghanistan but Iran did not attack them there and Iran did not „recommend“ the US to attack those countries. It was Israel, to be more precise it was Netanyahu:
http://www.timesofisrael.com/kerry-accuses-netanyahu-of-cheerleading-2003-iraq-war/
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/26/world/middleeast/kerry-reminds-congress-netanyahu-advised-us-to-invade-iraq.html

Netanyahu says that Iran is hardly any different than IS(IS) and tries to portray the Assad government, Hezbollah, the Iraqi Shia militias and the Yemeni Houthis as the equivalents of IS, but as a matter of fact:
– Syrias army, Hezbollah and the Iraqi Shia militias have been fighting IS and Al Qaeda (Syrias Al Nusra Front) for years. They have killed much more radical Islamists in their real and true „war on terror“ than the US has done through airstrikes
– Israel has not attacked any of these Jihadi terrorists, but has shot down Syrian war planes, shelled the Syrian armys bases and given cover to the Islamists in their fight against the Syrian state
– The Houthis are fighting Al Qaeda in Yemen. The same Al Qaeda that the US occasionally bombs there, too. The Houthis have not beheaded, crucified or mass executed hundreds of disarmed prisoners. Nor have they enslaved women and children from minorities

Netanyahu said that Irans religious leader Khamenei has „twittered“ for Israels elimination. While this is true, one must read carefully. Khamenei does NOT say that Jews or the Israeli population must be exterminated, nor that the country must be destroyed physically. What he is calling for is the removal of the Israeli state as the „institution“ governing the geographical territory of pre-1948 Palestine. Khamenei explicitly says:
„the elimination of Israel does not mean the massacre of jewish people“. He even considers Jews inside Israel and abroad as people taking part in a future referendum about the succeeding state:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/irans-supreme-leader-ayatollah-khamenei-outlines-plan-to-eliminate-israel-9850472.html
„Elimination“ surely sounds tough but it´s not different than the often requested Israeli desires for „regime change“ in Iran through military means.

It might be useful to know a couple of things about Jews in Iran. After all, according to Netanyahu Iran wants to exterminate Jews. Look at this:
1. List of Synagogues in Tehran alone: https://twitter.com/GrantBrooke/status/572798502943784960/photo/1
2. Jews in todays Islamic Republic of Iran: http://theotheriran.com/tag/jews/    (Does not look like they are fearing pogroms, what?)
You won´t see Jewish Synagogues vandalized in Iran or Jewish cemeteries desecrated. Unlike Europe, by the way.

Sunni misconceptions about Shia muslims

The root cause of anti-Shia violence perpetrated by militantly sectarian and mostly Wahhabi/Salafi minded elements within the Sunni muslims is the existence of major misconceptions regarding Shia muslims. This goes as far as considering Shias „non-muslims“ (Kuffar) or worse „apostates“ (Murtadeen).

Hateful incitements against the Shias have been „explained“ by takfiri ideologues using a wide array of mostly unsustainable religious pseudo-arguments in order to justify and „legitimize“ the killing of Shia muslims.
Thus it is time to identify and refute these deadly misconceptions.

Since (the mostly Wahhabi/Salafi minded) radical islamists among Sunni muslims seriously think there is solid religious „legitimization“ for anti-Shia violence which absolves them of any guilt and even justifies sectarianism, it is time to identify, address and refute misconceptions about Shia muslims.

The misconceptions:

1. There is a „Shia Quran“ which is different than the „Quran“
Truth: Of course there is no such seperate and different Quran. The Quran sold and read in Tehran is the same as in Riyadh.

2. The Shia believe that Imam Ali (ibn Abi Taleb, cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad) is „God“
Truth: No Shia Imam or scholarly person has ever claimed this and this is also totally inconsistent with the „Shahada“ formula that every practising Shia uses: „La ilaha illa Allah wa-Muhammad rasul Allah. There is no god but God and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah. “

3. The Shia believe that archangel Gabriel (Jibr´eel) „mistakingly“ gave prophethood to Prophet Mohammad instead to Imam Ali
Truth: Same as with misconception 2

4. The Shia do not pray 5 times a day and a total of 17 Rakaat
Truth: „In Shia mosques, whether in Iran or the USA, all five daily prayers are performed. Shia do combine noon and afternoon and evening and night, but Shia scholars recommend performing them separately.“
http://www.ezsoftech.com/akram/shiasunniunity.asp

5. The Shia do not pray voluntary „Sunnah“ prayers (in addition to the obligatory „Fard“ prayers)
Truth: Beside the fact that the „Sunnah“ prayers are voluntary and thus NOT compulsitory, „Shias do perform non-obligatory prayers, 36 cycles per day in total, but call it Nawafil and not Sunnah.“ For details, see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salat

6. Lying and deception is allowed for the Shia because they make use of „Taqiyyah“ (Dissimulation)
Truth: Shias are of course not allowed to lie or deceive or give wrong testimony. „al-Taqiyyah literally refers to the practice of hiding one’s faith when one’s life is in danger from others who may wish to harm them for what they believe…Muslims should employ the practise of Taqiyyah in matters of life and death. In reality the Shia have found themselves in that very situation on numerous occasions throughout Islamic history.

The practice is legitimised during times of danger by the Holy Qur’an in Surah 16: Ayah 106:

 “Whoever renounces faith in Allah after {affirming} his faith—barring someone who is compelled while his heart is at rest in faith—but those who open up their breasts to unfaith, upon such shall be Allah’s wrath, and there is a great punishment for them.”

This verse was revealed in relation to the Prophet’s (s.a.w) companion ‘Ammar b. Yasir, after he was forced to use renounce his faith in order to save his life from the Qurayshi pagans who were torturing and killing Muslims for refusing to outwardly profess disbelief.“
http://shiastudies.org/article/taqiyyah
Though Sunni muslims do not use the word „Taqiyyah“, the concept as such is not unknown: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taqiya#Sunni_Islam_view

7. Shias are „polytheists“ because they worship others than Allah
Truth: No, of course Shias only worship Allah. They have been accused of „shirk“ because of prostrating on a piece of earth (clay) during the prayer. This has nothing to do with polytheism (by „worshipping stones“) as Sunni Sheikh Ahmed Deedat explains here very well:

“An example is that the Shia brothers when they make salat, they have a piece of clay (turbah) that they do sajjdah on. And he( Sunni cleric) says, “see what they are doing here. This is shirk. They are worshipping a piece of clay.”
I said why don’t you ask them why they place their foreheads on a piece of clay and learn the logic behind this. I asked them. Why do you carry this clay tablet everywhere you go in your pocket? They said “we are supposed to do sujood on Allah’s earth with our foreheads touching the earth. We say “subhanna rabia Allah” three times with our foreheads touching the earth.” So the Shia want to actually touch the earth with their foreheads and not a manmade carpet. They want to be true to the expression of praying with the forehead actually touching Allah’s earth. You see they don’t worship the clay tablet as many wrongly think. And this is always something that we Sunnis are always making fun of and mock the Shia.”“  https://revivinghope.wordpress.com/tag/shia-sunni-unity/

At times, Shias visiting shrines have been wrongfully accused of „worshipping“ the (graves of the) dead.
„Touching or kissing the shrines of the Prophet and the imams does not imply shirk, nor does it associate that particular person with Allah, because Allah has the ultimate sovereignty in this universe, and Muslims submit to, worship, and seek help only from Him. Visiting the shrines is merely a gesture of respect.“

The Noble Qur’an teaches that when Prophet Yaqub cried over the separation of his son, Yusuf he lost his eye sight. Years later, Yusuf sent his shirt with one of his brothers and told him to put it on the face of his father so that he would regain his sight. The Qur’an says:

„Go with this shirt of mine and cast it over the face of my father. He will become seeing. And bring to me all your family. And when the caravan departed (Egypt), their father (who was in Palestine) said, “I do indeed sense the smell of Yusuf, if only you think me not sane.” They (his family) said, “Certainly you are in your old error.” Then when the bearer of glad tidings arrived, he cast it (the shirt of Yusuf) over his face, and he became seeing. He said, “Did I not say to you that I know from Allah that which you know not?”[Quran, 12:93]

Today, in most countries, both Muslim and non-Muslim, the flag of a nation is so sacred that soldiers, even civilians kiss it and put it on their faces. Does that mean they are worshipping a piece of cloth?
http://allaboutshias.com/shias-view-on-grave-worship/

8. Self-flaggelation is part of Shia ideology
Truth: No, it is not part of the ideology and even less a core belief of Shiism. Unfortuntaly it is still practised by many thousands of Shias but it should be noted that the broad majority of Shia does not commit it:
„Fatwa by the supreme leader of Iran – The Shia majority Iran and many Shiite clerics have denounced self-flagellation as un-Islamic and have issued a fatwa banning self-flagellation. The fatwa has led to many Muslims denouncing self-flagellation and have instead organized blood donation camps. Some have ignored the fatwa…With many Shiite clerics denouncing the act of self-flagellation, the act of self-flagellation is more of an Asian phenomenon now more particularly India & Bangladesh.“
http://thelogicalindian.com/story-feed/opinion/this-blood-soaked-islamic-ritual-needs-to-be-banned-completely/

Also: „Suffering and cutting the body with knives or chains was banned by Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran and by Hezbollah in Lebanon.[62] Khamenei issued a fatwa on 14 June 1994 banning this practice. He considered it irreligious and not suitable for good Muslims.“
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Twelver_Shia_Islam#Mourning_Husayn_and_self-flagellation_during_Ashura

9. Shias hate or insult the Prophets companions (Sahaba)
Truth: While, it is unfortunately true that some Shia indeed (have) insult(ed) some of the Sahaba, it is unfair and incorrect to accuse the Shia collectively of doing this. This shameful „habit“ is also nothing that is part of the general upbringing or education of an average Shia.
More interestingly, it should be noted that Ayatollah Khamenei from Iran strictly forbids insulting the Sahaba:
http://www.sunniandshia.com/unity-between-shia-and-sunni-on-imam-khameneis-fatwa/
Also: „Shia consider the first three caliphs as great companions and good Muslim administrators, but not spiritual leaders (imams). Imam Jafar Sadiq, whose mother and grand mother came from the line of Abu Bakr, said of Abu Bakr, “He gave me birth twice.” Ayisha is respected by Shias as the „Mother of Believers,” as Ali respected her when he sent her back from Basra to Madinah after the Battle of the Camel. If some Shia do slander the three caliphs and Ayisha, they do it out of ignorance and should ask God’s forgiveness.“
http://www.islamicity.org/2237/sunni-misconceptions-about-shias/

„Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s fatwa in October 2013, when he strictly forbade attacking Sunni sanctities, stating, “These are condemnable acts, and they violate the Shiite imams’ orders.”…Several Shiite authorities cooperated with Tayeb’s latest request and issued several fatwas and statements forbidding insulting Sunnis.“
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/01/iran-iraq-fatwa-sunni-shiite-insults.html#

10. Shias practice temporary marriages (Mutah) 
„Temporary marriage (Mutah) was allowed during the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and he himself practiced it. Ibn Zubayr was born out of a temporary marriage. Later on Caliph Umar prohibited it due to social reasons as the Islamic world was rapidly expanding. Shias discourage Mutah but do not consider it prohibited. “
http://www.al-islam.org/muta-temporary-marriage-in-islamic-law-sachiko-murata/legitimacy-muta

 

Instead of pointing at alleged or real differences the focus should be put on highlighting the common ground:

„Shia and Sunni have many things in common. They both believe in One God (Allah), follow the same Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as the last Prophet, offer five daily prescribed prayers, perform the prescribed fast in the month of Ramadan, go to Makkah for the Hajj pilgrimage, read the same book of Allah, Holy Qur’an, and pay the poor-due (Zakat).“
http://www.ezsoftech.com/akram/shiasunniunity.asp
In addition, both Shias and Sunnis share the most important holidays: Eid al adha and eid al fitr

 

 

 

American foreign policy „logic“ regarding Syria, Iran and the „Islamic State“

What is going on in Syria with regards to the „Islamic State“ (former ISIS) is appalling:
The Syrian Army is waging heavy attacks on IS positions everyday, while the US is claiming that IS is a creation of the Syrian government or its „ally“.
At the same time the US considers Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia „coalition partners“ in the fight against IS, while all of them have been funding, arming and supporting IS for years.
The US wants to invest even more in the „moderate rebels“ of the so called „Free Syrian Army“, an entity that mostly exists on paper and hardly plays a role in Syrias civil war. Now, these „moderates“ who are supposed to do the ground fighting have openly declared a „truce“ with IS because both want to fight against the Syrian government. The deal was brokered by Al Qaidas affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front.

So, according to „American foreign policy „logic“:
„Moderate“ rebels who work with Al Qaida (Nusra) and make truce with IS = Good
Syrian government that fights Al Qaida and IS = Bad

It becomes even more bizarre:
„John Kerry says Iranian role in coalition to confront Islamic State in Syria precluded by support of Damascus regime“
http://live.aljazeera.com/Event/Syria_Live_Blog/126725135

This is just as rational as if Stalin had said in 1945 that the Americans are not entitled to be part of the „allies“ against Nazi Germany because they support England (who was already fighting Nazi Germany).
At the same time the Americans support the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq in their fight against IS. ==> Kurdish Peshmerga who fight IS = Good
Now, listen what the Kurds say about Iran:
„“They gave us rockets, cannons, maps,“ a grateful Bakhtiar said of the Iranians, gesturing at the large-scale maps competing for wall space. „We needed these things badly.“
The Kurdish leader also confirmed the presence of consultants from the Pasdaran, also known as the Revolutionary Guard — who, he said, „were very helpful““
http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-iraq-iran-20140915-story.html