Taqiyya and Hudaybiyyah: The non-deal Iran “deal,” Week 5

“Treaty,” they lied.

When we left our story last time, Iran hadn’t agreed to anything except further negotiation (if she felt like it), but Western governments were depicting this as a “deal” or “agreement” with Iran, and well-meaning media pundits were proclaiming that “it” would have to be given time to work.

The question remains what “it” is supposed to be, considering that the Iranians persist in emphasizing their intention to continue uranium enrichment: the irreducible point of contention for an actual deal – a “deal” deal, if you will – to render the Iranian nuclear program less easily weaponizable.

But even if we set that question aside, the problem remains that Iran is explicitly, avowedly, egregiously “negotiating” in bad faith, at least from the standpoint of Western governments’ first-order expectations.  The case could be made by the Iranians that they are acting in perfectly good faith, having repeatedly stated their intentions.  It’s not their fault that Western leaders find it convenient to misinterpret the Iranians’ willingness to participate, from time to time, in a tiresome charade.

But if we take the unfolding drama at face value, as the West defines it, the Iranian leadership is not actually “negotiating” at all, in the sense of seeking an agreement whose terms they plan to honor.

How do we know this?  For one thing, it’s what Hassan Rouhani Mohammad Sadeq al-Hosseini* told an interviewer for Syrian News TV on 11 December: that the non-deal in Geneva was analogous to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah.   Clare Lopez at AIM explains:

As it is recounted, in the year 628 CE, Muhammad (whose forces already controlled Medina) agreed to a 10-year truce with the pagan Quraysh tribe of Mecca, primarily because he realized that his forces were not strong enough to take the city at the time. Islamic doctrine in fact forbids Muslims from entering into a jihad or battle without the reasonable certainty of being able to prevail. In such cases, as with Muhammad, Muslims are permitted to enter into a temporary ceasefire or hudna, with the proviso that no such truce may exceed 10 years (because that’s the length of the agreement Muhammad signed). And so, Muhammad agreed to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. But just two years later, in 630 CE, now with some 10,000 fighters under his command, Muhammad broke the treaty and marched into Mecca.  

To recap: a “treaty of Hudaybiyyah” is an agreement you break as soon as you’re able to.  Its function is to constrain the other party and buy time for you.  The treaty is also known among scholars of Islam as the inaugural event in the expansion of Islam in the 7th century.  The hiatus between conclusion of the “treaty” and the march on Mecca was the interval in which Mohammed sent his series of letters “calling the kings and rulers of the world” to Allah.  Analogies with Hudaybiyyah have more than mere tactical import.

Marching on Mecca in 630 (Siyer-i Nebi from Life of the Prophet, 1595)
Marching on Mecca in 630 (Siyer-i Nebi from Life of the Prophet, 1595)

But a separate tactical drama is unfolding in the Iran-nuclear saga, with a duel between the national assemblies in Washington, D.C. and Tehran.  So brilliant has been our scheme of maneuver in this diplomatic campaign that the Iranians now propose to use the sole whimper of backbone from us – Congress’s threat to pass a stronger sanctions bill – as justification for advancing right to the precipice of nuclear weaponization.

Reportedly, the Iranian majlis is threatening, if the U.S. Congress votes to tighten sanctions, to pass a law requiring uranium enrichment to 60% purity.  This percentage is short of the 93.5% representing weapons-grade purity, but any development of higher-purity stock will reduce the already-brief time required to enrich enough 93.5% uranium for a warhead test.  This gambit, of course, is meant to alarm Western governments and ensure that Obama will veto whatever comes out of Congress.  But to say that is not to say that the Iranians won’t hold the possibility of such legislation in reserve as a real threat in a game of brinkmanship.

Remember that estimates run from one to four weeks for the “dash” to weapons-grade enrichment, depending on which centrifuges Iran uses for the task.  Based solely on Iran’s existing network of centrifuge arrays, the dash time from today would be closer to four weeks; reducing it to 7-10 days will require bringing more of Iran’s newer-generation centrifuges online.  There are no technical impediments to doing that, but any such move would probably be interpreted as the beginning of the “dash.”  We can expect the Iranians to try to time the move to avoid retaliation (presumably from Israel).

In theory, introducing an even newer generation of centrifuges could reduce the dash time further, allowing Iran to enrich enough material for multiple warheads in a matter of days.  Such a capability, established in place but not yet in use on an industrial scale, might make it difficult for even Israel to make the strike decision on a shorter timeline than the length of the dash.  Creating this condition requires tacit acceptance of the newest-generation centrifuges from the IAEA and Western governments.

Accordingly, the head of Iran’s atomic energy agency has just announced the development of a new generation of centrifuges – a public notification that would be odd if the Iranians actually had any long-term intention of curtailing their enrichment activities.  They don’t, of course.  Ali Akbar Salehi is merely following the pattern the Iranians have followed for more than a decade now, to desensitize the UN and Western powers to the installation and light-off of new centrifuges as they become available.

To create the impression that Israel has the least excuse for taking action, the time for Salehi to herald the new-generation centrifuges is now.  They might or might not be ready for operation in 2014; out of an abundance of caution, the Iranians will install them in numbers only when things look politically propitious.  The art lies in edging closer to the fateful day, until it’s clear that the Western powers know they won’t do anything about the next installation, regardless of its implications.

How long that might take is less predictable now than it would have been 4-5 years ago.  The extent of our remaining sensitivities might not be certain – reactions might be surprised out of us that would give Israel a pretext for action – but after Geneva, and under our current leadership, it is crystal clear what we are.  We’re chumps.  If Israel can be held off, Iran is in a position to start her dash at any time.

She’s never been here before.  All bets, including how long new programmatic moves typically take, are now off.  And so, there’s plenty of taqiyya to go with the Hudaybiyyah.  If Geneva was “Hudaybiyyah,” then Iran’s next move, other than calling the rulers of the world to Allah, is “marching on Mecca.”

* A correspondent pointed out that I had attributed this statement to the wrong Iranian official.  Al-Hosseini was a one-time political intimate of former president Mohammad Khatami, and is now a TV pundit.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard online. She also writes for the new blog Liberty Unyielding.

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9 thoughts on “Taqiyya and Hudaybiyyah: The non-deal Iran “deal,” Week 5”

  1. Implementation of the Eurasian realignment and the Grand Bargain still on track. Events as disparate, and seemingly unconnected outcomes, in Ukraine, Khodorkovsky, Russian offshore hydrocarbon exploration contracts in Syria, US drones for Iraq, and political pressure on Erdogan in Turkey, (there are more to list), bears this out….None of the world players running the show want to mess this up, hardliner (whatever the source) theatrics and/or window dressing notwithstanding.

    1. “Events as disparate, and seemingly unconnected … (there are more to list), bears this out….None of the world players running the show want to mess this up, hardliner (whatever the source) theatrics and/or window dressing notwithstanding”.

      Perhaps the phases of the moon and the length of winter fur on groundhogs are also part of Obama’s grand plan? I guess it’s outside the realm of consideration that he’s just an amateur strategist and half-baked ideologue getting played by tyrants?

      1. No, it’s definitely not outside the realm of possibility that he’s being played by “tyrants”. But, it isn’t likely.

        I assume, getting “played”, in your definition, is any result less than a complete dismantling of the Iranian program and/or regime change. Anything less, you would consider a defeat. That result is not going to happen, since we aren’t prepared to go to war for it.. Even Bibi knows that. It can be used as a haggling tactic at the bazaar for a few more rugs though, I suppose.

        There are high level negotiations, by multiple state actors, going on that encompass issues other than, but linked to, the Iranian nuclear issue. Obviously we are not privy to them.

        Might he (Obama) not be the only one being “played”? That’s not outside the realm of possibility either…

        Might not the result of these negotiations produce an acceptable accord addressing many if not all of the contentious issues for us and at least some of our regional allies? That is also possible.

        On a lighter note, I wonder if you can spot any of those tyrants, that fit your definition of the term, in this picture for example? Who is attempting to “play” whom? Or, maybe they are discussing where their interests align? Should not United States and Iran conclude agreements where their interests dictate it?


        Btw,Involving ourselves in another Middle Eastern war is simple. We can do it any time we choose. First, let’s at least identify and be clear on what the attainable objectives and what the possible consequences are.

        Extricating ourselves, even after victory, from yet another Middle Eastern war will prove much more difficult (whether the cause of the difficulties is our domestic politics, or our adversaries) than we initially anticipate. In addition, other adversaries will probably probe our weakness on other fronts. Are we prepared to honor our commitments to the defense of other fronts, in North East Asia for example, while conducting a Middle Eastern war?

        We are not omnipotent, recent History is an example of this to all but the blind.

  2. The following quote (although mostly erroneous in its conclusion, but sufficient for my purpose) from the interview with Mohammad Sadeq al-Hosseini…..”The day Greece reached the Mediterranean coast, Persia fell to Alexander the Great for 300 years. Today, now that the Iranians are reaching the Mediterranean coast at Tyre, we are looking at 300 years of defeat for the Americans and the Westerners”…..is revealing. It is an indicative insight into the PERSIAN psyche’s narrative governing geopolitics in the Near East. Theocratic pan-Islamic lunacy is not the sole manifestation of their world view. It is a tool.

    Contrast that to the fact that as educated Persians, they are well aware of the fact that the expansion of Sunni Islam, still their Nemesis, was a byproduct of the exhausting wars between the then Eastern Roman(descendant of Alexander’s) and Persian empires. Wars that were the cause of their mutual decline and eventual subjugation to the force from the desert. I do not put it passed them to make common cause to defeat the Sunni force from the desert in collusion with the West or Russia. Regardless of the fact that according to the definition of their current religious ideology, both are considered “infidels”.

    I shall not go further with this, but there is much here to investigate.

  3. jgets — I keyed on that quote too (although, as you say, its conclusions or implications are mostly wrong. For example, the suggestion that “Persia” fell to Alexander the Great “for 300 years” seems to have as its premise some very grandiose conception of “Persia.” That itself is information about a “Persian” mindset, of course; i.e., Persia is everything between Susa and Benghazi as well as a whole lot east of it too. One definitely wants to say, “Hello, 2300 years ago, get over it already.” But ’twas ever thus in the world’s Great Crossroads).

    I believe there is a third alternative in analyzing Obama’s role. I don’t think he is merely a garden-variety center-left Westerner out of his depth, but neither do I think he is the Second Coming of the Freemason Bilderberger Iluminati, receiving his orders each morning from a neural network managed by the Trilateral Commission and funded by the Rothschilds.

    I think Obama, himself, is largely a tool — but not the tool of an international conspiracy. He’s the tool of a cohort of 1960s radical leftist holdovers, who never stopped believing their own hype, who are completely blind to how the world has changed since they last had tenuous contact with its realities (somewhere around 1968), and who are determined to act on the nonsensical implications of their rarefied ideology, heedless of the consequences for the average Ukrainian, Syrian, Greek, Frenchman, or American.

    They’re parlor radicals in the sense that they have townhomes in Washington, DC and Brussels, and SUVs and private schools for the kids. But they differ from the 1920s version of the parlor radical, in that they really just don’t care what happens to “the people” out there. “The people” are just a resource to be exploited. The attitude of the parlor-radicals-in-charge today is much closer to Stalin’s than to Lady Astor’s. If you’ve ever seen that film clip of George Bernard Shaw telling less-than-healthy people to just go off and die already, that’s the vibe from the Obama Ascendancy radicals.

    In its utter amorality toward the consequences of its policies for millions of ordinary people, this cohort demonstrates everything we need to know about how it will pursue “foreign” or “security” policy. It will subordinate the interests of national populations to its ideological fantasies, because it simply doesn’t care about the people.

    Add to that the layer of Chicago machine politics peculiar to Obama and his inner circle, and you have the perfect storm of political narcissism. There’s ideology, and there’s retaining power, and beside those two, nothing else matters. Certainly not your security or mine.

    1. He was a tool, or ward, or offspring, of the forces you describe Optcon. And yes, there is little regard for the people. Otherwise the elites would have payed more attention to the state of the economy. As long as we are surviving, subsisting, and not revolting, that’s a good enough result in their view from bubble-land.

      Now, for good or ill, he is a second term president of the United States, with the experiences and lessons accumulated, thinking of his legacy. All presidents curiously do this, even the Obama variety..

      He knows his signature domestic policy achievement, the Affordable Care Act, has hit the shoals. The damage done is most likely irreparable in his time left in office. Here, he has failed.

      That leaves leaving his mark in the history books in foreign affairs. I believe he’s willing to go very far to get this. Reestablishing diplomatic relations with Iran, and the reopening of diplomatic missions between the two nations, is high on his agenda. Here, he might succeed.

      Whether that’s good or bad…. well. We will see.

  4. Evidence emerging that the Damascus chemical weapons attack may have been a false flag. Which means, if proven true, for yet another time, we would have been dragged into someone else’s war through deception.

    This is another indication why we fudged the CW “red line”, why we’ve essentially “switched sides”, and why we are now effectively supporting the Shia Crescent against al-Qaeda in Iraq..

    Good. For now, that is…


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