Monday, December 18, 2006

Ahmadinejad's Pilgrims

It looks like the Champion of the dispossessed, the Global Everyman is going to shake things up in the upcoming Hajj ceremonies.
The Islamic Republic itself is expected to send 200,000 pilgrims, representing almost 10 percent of the total. Saudi officials claim that some 5 percent of the Iranian pilgrims have always been identified as members of the Islamic Revolutionary Corps and the Islamic Republic's various intelligence services. This year, however, the profiles of Iranian applicants for pilgrimage visas indicate that more than 20 percent may belong to the military or security services.

To these must be added professional street-fighters from the various branches of the pan-Islamic Hezbollah movement, which Iran created in the 1980s as a way to "export" Khomeinism to other Muslim countries. The movement's best-known branch, the Lebanese Hezbollah, has announced it will sending over 3,000 pilgrims this year - all paid for by Iran.

With so many men with military and security backgrounds in Mecca, the mullahs leading the Iranian pilgrims would be in a position to seize control of the space around the black stone of the Ka'aba (The Cube) and use it as a venue for political demonstrations.
Interesting times ahead.

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