No one could have imagined the scenario that would unfold, including the Western leaders who masterminded the Iranian Islamic revolution, the very same people who sent Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei from the outskirts of Paris to Tehran aboard a French government chartered Air France aircraft back in 1979. In fact, not even the returning Ayatollah could possibly foresee the scale and depth of the apocalyptic chaos that he and a missing 9th century Prophet, were going to create in Middle Eastern geopolitics.
The core of the Shi'ite religious world view is the Hidden Imam, "The Guided One." While the stories of the first eleven Imams are historical in nature, the history of the twelfth Imam is mystical and even miraculous. He was born in 868 AD, and when the Eleventh Imam died in 874 AD, the then seven year old boy declared himself to be the Twelfth Imam and went into hiding. He remains faceless. The Shi'ites believe that he hid himself in a cave below a mosque in Samarra, Iraq; and the faithful still gather there to pray for his return. All Muslims, Shia or Sunni, believe in Imam Mahdi, but Sunnis believe that he has not been born yet.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei was exiled from Iran by the late Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in 1965 for inciting violence and anarchy. He finally returned to Iran via Paris as the "theoretical head of the revolution" after sharing a bed in Iraq with Saddam Hussein for over 13 years. As the Ayatollah took the first steps onto the tarmac of Tehran's international Mehrabad airport, an Iranian journalist asked Khomenei about his sentiments on walking on Iranian soil after the long absence. The Ayatollah famously and nonchalantly replied "Hechi!"(meaning "nothing" in Farsi). In essence it was a death knell for Iran for he had clearly stirred the cauldron of hatred for all his years in exile.
The following day Khomenei unleashed the first premeditated act in his master plan over loud speakers throughout Tehran "The coming of Imam Zaman (Mahdi) is the definite promise by Allah, and who would have thought that in this sensitive region and in this important country, with a regime (run by Pahlavi) and supported by the international powers, a revolution based on religion and Sharia (law) would take place?"
Khomenei's next despotic move would have made any dictator, throughout history, stand and applaud in awe. He declared that he would fulfill the task of guiding the Moslem Shi'a world until the arrival of the 12th Prophet, since he had all the necessary knowledge and skill to assume and discharge such a responsibility. His position as head of the Shi'a world had been solidified via divine self nomination. He also reserved the right to pass on the divine throne as he saw fit, if the 9th century child prophet should not emerge from the well.
Following Khomenei's death in 1989 the torch was handed to another devotee; Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The latter would use his divine power to direct domestic energy revenues to numerous family offshore bank accounts, and even today there's much debate as to the extent of his real wealth. Modest estimates put the figure well over $100b.
Iranian energy revenues also served to finance the hardcore followers and the powerful paramilitary militias known as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the IRGC. It soon became understood the actions and decisions of the substitute Imam were indirectly guided by Allah, and he who dared question the supreme leader was directly in conflict with Allah. The punishment for questioning the will of God could only be death.
The regime began a cat and mouse game with the US Navy on the waters of the Persian Gulf. It launched proxy wars against America and Israel. The supreme leader boasted of the extent of his evil empire and armed Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas. All was justified by the invocation of Allah's authority.
The funding of terrorist organizations by Teheran has brought much misery and poverty to millions of Iranians who live below the poverty line for the past four decades. The harsh sanctions imposed by the Americans and sometimes halfheartedly by the E.U have until today provided a perfect excuse for the regime to blame all the mismanagement and corruption on various big and little Satans. The representatives of God on Earth have escaped responsibility.
As pilgrims gathered around Samara, Iraq waiting for the return of the 12th Imam, a well was dug in Iran by the Mullahs just outside a village by the name of Jamkaran, near the city of Qom. The purpose was to facilitate communication between the faithful and the faceless young boy who vanished in the middle of the 9th century. The distance between Samara, Iraq and Jamkaran, Iran is approximately 530 miles. Today, a tunnel covering this distance would indeed be considered an engineering masterpiece. Despite all the technology and machinery, earthlings have not managed to surpass the 50 mile tunneling mark. Apparently, though, for the Messenger of God the distance was no obstacle.
Primarily on Tuesday evenings even today crowds of thousands of people gather at Jamkaran to pray and to drop a note to the Imam via the well. These messages ask mostly for help. Local businessmen, quick to seize an opportunity, have constructed several modest hotels nearby. A second well has now been dug to accommodate female faithful
One can also send emails to the Prophet, but they may need translation into Arabic, since the authorities still bicker about the Prophet's level of proficiency in Farsi. Arabic speaking Mullahs march around the wells like excited reef sharks. Letters thrown into the well by the public carry an "introductory fee" which guarantees the sender that the letter will be read. There is even a fast lane reserved for wealthy visitors who need an urgent response from the Prophet. Shi'a tradition teaches that if you come to Jamkaran 40 weeks in a row, you will "see" the Mahdi.
if all this wasn't mystical enough, there is the belief that when the Mahdi comes back, he will be accompanied by Jesus Christ, who is referred to as the Prophet Isa. The Mahdi will take Jesus to Mecca, and they will circumambulate the Kabah together. The Mahdi will teach Jesus to pray, at which time Jesus will replace the gospel with the Koran, and then all Christians will convert to Islam because Islam will be deemed the one lasting pure religion. Provisions for other faiths are to yet to be decided.
Such fairy tales might be amusing if one were talking about the return of Peter Pan or Donald Duck, but the Ayatollahs now enjoy blind devotion from the members of the IRGC, directly under the orders of the temporary stand-in Prophet, Ayatollah Khamenei. The IRGC, an internationally recognized terrorist organization, has created havoc in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and East Africa. In 1994 it bombed a synagogue in Buenos Aires. Iranian agents have also been linked to the bombing of American military barracks and embassies in Saudi Arabia and Kenya. The temporary Imam must pave the way for the holy arrival and as usual, Israel is considered as the major obstacle. It must be eradicated from the face of the earth.
The mysterious disappearance of a child well over a thousand years ago has granted the Ayatollahs in Iran the divine right to enact any law or issue any decree. The stand-in Imam is elected for life, and his decisions are final on all matters. By exploiting and abusing the myths of an imaginary Prophet, the Ayatollahs have assured their positions not only in Iran but the entire Middle East, and have become the undisputed champions of Islam by defying the West in the media with incessant chants of "death to Israel and America".
Despite the rhetoric, behind closed doors endless oil and gas contracts are signed with international energy companies, and oftentimes the revenues are snaked away from the mainstream economy. There is no stigma to the mafia style regime of the Islamic republic of Iran. While the Ayatollahs revel in their divine status with the people of Iran they are eminently practical in private. Having taken Barack Obama and the European Union to the cleaners a few years ago they will be watching the results of the upcoming meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un carefully.
Whatever happens the Ayatollahs will continue to assure their followers that success is assured and that God is on their side, all on the authority derived from a missing seven year old boy.