A Confluence of Security, Intelligence and Investigation
by Jeffrey Coonjohn
The Shi’a Crescent
There are few men on the globe as well educated and as insightful about the Middle East as the King of Jordan, Abdullah II. It was the King who, in 2004, first described his concept of The Shi’a Crescent. Initially, it was described in terms of geopolitics: that region of the Middle East where the majority of the population is Shi’a. However, as the Persian strategy has unfolded on the world stage, the concept of the Shi’a Crescent must expand to include the whole of the Iranian vision—the Greater Shi’a Crescent.
The Greater Shi’a Crescent
The Greater Shi’a Crescent is an amorphous force bound by ideology. Attempts to depict it visually in geopolitical terms fail to capture its essence. It is about spheres of influence. To believe that it is confined to the Middle East or even Central Asia underestimates the brilliant strategic thinking of Supreme Grand Ayatollah Khomeini. The Greater Shi’a Crescent describes in a single phrase the long-term strategy of Iran to coalesce the Shi’a religious denomination within a new Persian Empire. This is a paradigm shift in political thinking. It is not geopolitical but socio-religious. Emanating from his groundbreaking work entitled the Wiliyat al-faqih, the power, breadth and reach of Iran’s Supreme Grand Ayatollah is not confined to physical borders, but to the 200,000,000 Shi’a who occupy every country on the globe, a vast majority of whom are under the age of twenty-five.
From a Western perspective, the closest analogy to this shift in political thinking is global marketing. When marketing on a worldwide scale, corporations look less at geographical or geopolitical markets and more at similarities in demographics. They build their strength from worldwide customer loyalty—irrespective of citizenship or nationality. This is the Persian strategy. However, the analogy between global marketing and Iranian strategy ends here. Equating corporate customer loyalty to Shi’a devotion to Islam is like comparing a grain of sand to the Arabian Desert. The power of the recognized leader of the Shi’a denomination cannot be underestimated. It rivals the power of a US President—and in many respects surpasses it. The vision of Supreme Grand Ayatollah Khomeini was to capture this power in order to export his Islamic revolution. Today, the continuing mission of Iran is to turn that vision into a reality.
Therefore, every action of Iran must be viewed through the prism of the Greater Shi’a Crescent. Whether it is surreptitious support of Al-Shabab Al-Momen in Yemen or the seemingly innocuous Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), Iran has but one vision—to unite the Shi’a worldwide and use them to serve and support the Iranian political/religious dominion.