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tv   Frontline  PBS  February 20, 2018 9:00pm-11:01pm PST

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>> narrator: tonight, an epic journey through the most war torn region in the world. >> the chaos has suddenlyex nded into a dangerous regional war with iran on one side and saudi arabia on the other. >> two well-armed rivals, and neither side appears willing to back down. >> the saudis insist that iran is a hostile belligerent, adventurous nation, attempting to export revolution around the region. how do you respond? >> talk is cheap. saudis helped al qae saudis are funding terrorists. so they started this sectarian message. not us. >> the iranians say you've bee s busyporting extremism.
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what's your response to that? >> nonsense. the iranians are t ones who are exporting terrorism. they're the ones who are stokin the fi sectarianism. they are the ones who have been on an aggressive path since 1979. >> narrator: from the ian shia revolution that ignited the fire, to the threat felt in saudi arabia. >> khomeini described the rulers of the gulf as being like the shah. they, who must be topple >> narrator: frontline traces the roots of a deadly divide. >> it is a power struggle mtween iran and saudi arabia for dominance ofdle east and the muslim world. iz>> iranian and saudi cits aren't the ones that are suffering. there's been over a million casualties in the middle east over the last decade. they've been syrian. they've been iraqi theye been yemeni. e >> as etoric escalates, as
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the proxy wars escalate, neither side seems to appreciate that they're destroying the region. >> narrator: filmed in seven countries with correspondent amartin smith, part one o frontline special series" "tter rivals". >> frontline is made possible by contributions toour pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. e jor support is provided by the john d. and cather macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. additional support is provided by the ford foundation: working with visionaries on e front lines of social change worldwide. the park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. the john and helen glessner family trust. supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. and by the frontline journalism fund, with major support from joand jo ann hagler. major support for frontline and for "bitter rivs" was provided
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by the corporation for public broadcasting. with additional support fromhe henry luce foundation's initiative on religion in international affairs. and the pew charitable trus, driven by the power of knowledge to solve today's most challenging problems ♪
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>> martin smith: i've reported from the middle east for nearly two decades. yet i've never visited tehran before. i've come here to report on the intense rivalry between shiaan nd its sunni neighbor saudi arabia. it's been nearly 40 years since ayatollah ruhollah khomeini led a revolution that toppled the u.s.-backed monarchy. ever since, relations with the outside world have bee strained. for an american journalist, it's not easyo report here. this is an authoritarian state. it takes courage for iranians to speak out. many have been jailed for opposing the government.
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>> one of the sight that we areo going ee on the 22nd when imam khomeini has his lecture... >> my guide is sassan. usually sassan works with tourists, but he has been assigned to me by a media agency that operates on behalf of the governme. >> smith: sassan?es >> y, sir? >> smith: you tell me again, who is this man we're going to see? l this gentleman? >> smith: yes, tel. we've given them a list of people we hope to meet. but it's not clear who the government will actuallypr e. >> mr. rafighdoost is one of the living historians of the iranian revolution. and me as an iranian, this is the first time i'm going to see him from the very close in person. he wants to. >> smith: the man we're going to visit today, mohsen rafighdoost, is a founder of iran's powerful islamic revolutionary guard corps, the irgc. today, as a result of his connections, he is one of the
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wealthiest men in iran, with stakes in hundreds of companies. in the late '70s, he led protests against iran's unpopular shah, preparing for the day ayatollah khomeini would return from exile. on february 1, 1979, rafighdoost was in charge of khomeini's security. (rafighdoost): >> smith: iran's western-backed country on what he said was ahe vacation.ei khomeini szed the moment. what was going through your mina and your heartbout what this meant for the country? >>
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eporter: the people were in a frenzy tcatch just a glimpse of the man they revere like a god. they clawed and clambered and ran to see and be near him for 15 miles, and no more than a tiny fraction of the multitude succeeded. ig (rhdoost):
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(crowd shouting): >> smith: later that same day, khomeini gave his first major address to the iranian people. it was a rejection of british and american domination of the ah's iran. (khomei): (applause and cheering) (crowd shouts takbir) >> smith: khomeini would now use relicton to reorder every aspe of iranian life. and he declared that iam was fundamentally opposed to the whole notion of monarchy.
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his message was a direct assault on kings from the gulf states to saudi aria. iranians believed it w the end of decades of autocratic rule and repression. (shouting) >> i believe the rolution was a demand for dignity on the part of the iranian people. gn they wanted reion for who they were, for their history. for their identity. >> smith: do you think americans genirally understand the iraan experience prior to the revolution? i guess not. ebelieve the american peo have not been subjected to the type of indignation and lack of respect that the people of iran were subjected to.
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>> film narrator: today both the peaceful economy and the defensive strengthf the free world are heavily dependent upon the petroleum resources of irani >>: as the iranians tell it, there were decades of exploitation and abuse. the west had relied upon iran to supply much of its oil.: >> film narrat.which has supplied more than a quarter of britain's needs... >> smith: the itish had commandeered a near-monopoly of iranian oil profits. >> iran becomes the nter of a major international crisis. >> smith: then, in 1951, mohammed mossadegh was nominated by iran's parliament to lead the country's first democratically naected government. after mossadegh tionalized b irantish-run oil industry and chased the shah from tehran, the c.i.a. and british spies engineered a coup in 1953. >> smith: mossadegh was arrested, imprisoned, and lived in captivity for 14 years until his death.
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>> we're not so great at history in america. when we say, "at's history," it's a pejorative. well, the rest of the world takes history pretty seriously. and 1953 definitely resonated in 1979. it resonates today. (man speaking): >> smith: the shah was reinstalled. to stay in power, he built a massive police state, and relied on the west for support. >> iran, because of the great leadership of the shah, is an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world. >> what the united states gave the shah, aside from flattery, was military might. >> smith: the u.s. sold him weapons. and the c.i.a. trained the shah's secret police, the savak, which brutally suppressed all opposition. >> during the trouble, i saw rsthe police beating passey indiscriminately with their sticks. >> smith: by 1978, the count
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was convulsed with protests. g) (crowd shout: th >> sthe people wanted control of their own destiny. >> the fact is, the shah has failed to make civilian governmentork. and until a proper solution is found here, there can be no satisfactory form of government for iran. >> smith: then came 19, and khomeini's revolution. its impact was felt across the middle east, wherever unpopular elites were supported by the u.s. >> a huge mob armed with rifles and shotguns and screaming, ill the american dogs," stormed the u.s. embassy compound in islamabad and set parts of it afire. ar>> 1979 was a crucial ye, i think, for the muslim world. i mean, sunnis were celebrating the iranian revolution as much as shias were. er
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was enormous enthusiasm and support, becausehomeini's initial line was not sectarian against sunnis and such. it was anti-american. >> iran today saw the biggest demonstration yet.mi more than one ion persons marched through the streetssh ting, "death to the shah, death to carter." >> khomeini's vision was to annihilate america's presence from the middle east. wanted this islamic revolution of his to spread, and to see the end owestern influence-- cultural, political, military, financial-- in the entire islamic world. >> it just provided the example that people, without any foreign help, were able to engage a very brutal regime, supported by, primarily by the united states, and defeat it.
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(sasson): >> smith: to this day, loyal regime supporters gatho celebrate their revolution. they march down enghor revolution street, every febrry 11. what brings you here today? ry >> "my count is the best country in all over the rld." >> smith: what makes your country the best country in all of the world? >> smith: almost four decades of indoctrination have rituized these anti-american sentiments. hello. my name is martin. how do you do? but what we didn't expis how everyone went out of their way to welcome an american reporter. >> i like all the people in the
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u.s.a. >> smith: they make a distinction. (man): >> smith: many people stay away in protest against the regime, but government employees are expected to attend. (man): >> smith: compared to the passions of 1979, the ole march had a kind of carnival
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feel to it. there were plenty of anti-western posters with all those familiar slogans. (chanting): >> smith: more than anything, the march was about pride and defiance. (crowd cheering and chanting) >> smith: but in theeginning, it was not clear if this revolutionould survive. it was the american hostage
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crisis that would help khomeini secu its future. the american embassy in ands ofis in the muslim students tonight. spurred on by an anti-american eech by the ayatollah khomeini, they stormed the embassy, fought the marine guards f three hours, overpowered them, and took dozens of american hostages. s mith: the fear was that the united states was praring to reinstall the shah. a small group of students reacted. >> the hostages are in our hands. >> smith: masoumeh ebtekar was s spokespe for the students. >> so that in the case of any militaryntervention, we will destroy them. the students, they believe there is a serious possibility that what happened in 1953, the coup d'état, could again happen. history could repeat itself. >> militant muslim students today vowed to kill the 49 american hostages if the u.s. launches a military attack against iran. their demand remains the same-- return the shah to stand trial.
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>> smith: the taking of the hostages was initially prompted when president carter reluctantly granted the shah permission to enter a u.s. hospital. >> the former shah of iran is suffering from cancer, and is receiving needed treatment in this country. >> the united states gave refuge to the person who had imprisoned thousands of people, who had killed thousands of people on the streets of tehran. he was a mass murderer. yet the united states let him into their country, took him top a al, and then they expected the iranian students not to show outrage? >> the iranians burned the united states flag andun denod the u.s. government, saying they would stay until the u.s. sends the depos shah back to iran. earlier toy... >> the students, they thought that they would take the embassy for a w hours, maybe. but then suddenly the peopleur out in millions in support of this.m and suddenly ipported it,
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too. >> smith: khomeini. >> yeah, imam khomeini. (khomeini): >> imam khomeini, he namedhis overwhelming response of the people, he named it as theol second rion.o he used ittually construct the polical institutions of the islamic republic of iran. (crowd chanting): >> this s a tactical ploy, to take the embassy, to demonstratu retionary credentials in the face of the grt satan. we were just useful tool. and the regime fostered its gitimacy by confronting the united states. >> smith: after the hostage
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crisis, khomeini was fullyre empo -c postonial middle eastern states had embraced nationalism, capitalism, and communism, but with khomeini's revolution, iran was embracing islam. >> before '79, islam as a political phenomenon was a i margina in the region. the arab world was allbout socialism and arab nationalism, and iran was dominated by secular forces. now, once khomeini takes over, islam is squarely put in the middle of the table in the middle east. >> smith: a few hours south of tehran is the holy city of qom, iran's pre-emine center of shia learning. good, okay. >> then you go to the office of ayatollah, if you want to interview anything... >> smith: okay, great, perfect. thank you. i wanted to talk to an ayatollae he about khomeini's
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revolution. >> after islamic revolution, there is a movement towardsgi re, towards god. and there is a new role for the religion in all the issues-- global issues, international issues.mi >> s: the iranian revolutionhe establthat islamic law, sharia, would now govern iran. and khomeini determined that a cleric should rule as its head, a cleric who received his authority directly from god. >> we believe that imams, they are guided by god. and, therefore, they are able to show us the right path. and this is the idea of shia. >> smith: shia are a minority sect-- around 12 perce of all muslims. they split from the majority sunnis 1,400 years ago following the death of the prophet
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muhammad. >> when the prophet muhammad died in 632, a dispute emerged over who would succeed him. the sunnis believed that t leadership of the muslim state and community would go to his best friend and companion, a man called abu bakr.en raying) but the shias believe that ali, the cousin, should have succeeded the prophet. >> smith: shia means "followers of ali." they developed a doctrine thatsu ali and hiessors were infallible representatives of god. >> he had a certain quality that was similar that of the prophet in that he was impeccable, or made no errors. he was error-free. the sunnis never agreed to this. >> sth: while in exile, khomeini took this shia beli and formulated a new kind of government around it. he called the principle
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thlayat-e faqih, the guardianship of jurist. >> what khomeini d was that he politicized what was, until then, mu more of a religious-slash-spiritual doctrine, and turned it into a political doctrine whereby a jurist, a legal d theological scholar, could actually rule a state. >> smith: many shia scholars believed khomeini had gone too far. >> he would rule the country, and he would have ultimate and final say over all matters. and if he issues a command in his capacity as the supreme leader of iran, then obeying him hi required, and disobeyin is a sin. >> smith: he dlared his islamic revolution in the name of all muslims, shia and sunni. but that's not how others saw it. t >>he revolution had two sides.
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certainly, rhetorically, the khomeini's revolution, the 1979o tion, was pan-islamic. but right below that rhetoric, these were shia clerics taking over a country and ring that country by the ideas, the beliefs, the mores of the shia clergy. so it was inextricly shia. it was outwardly shia. and all of iran's neighbors saw this. even if it had sort of pan-islamic ambions, it was very much a shia experiment. >> the fact that khomeini carried out the revolution in the name of islam was a sour of his popularity and power in the arab world. the fact that he wasa ruler was also the limit of his power. and it's that limit that the saudis, pakistanis, egyptians,
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jordanians used in order to make sure the iranian revolutionn' dospread. >> smith: no country feared the spread of khomeini's revolution more than here, across the gulf-- saudi arabia. it was a direct challenge for the leadership of the islamic rld, and to the royal house of saud. , until 19e saudi royal family maintained relations with iran. the two countries were both western-backed oil-rich monarchies that the u.s. saw as pillars of gulf security. >> we had very good relations with the shah, especially in his later years. i remember before khomeini came,
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i had gone to tehran to see the shah. and i remember driving to his palace, niavaran palace. it was after dusk. and there were no lights in the palace, because there had been a strike by the oil workers. thd there was no fuel for generators. and it was very indicative o what was happening in tehran-- that he was losing his authority. >> smith: so there's a big question mark. khomeini comes to tehran, and you must've been listening carefully to his words. >> absolutely.ib khomeini des the rulers of the gulf as being like the shah, who must be toppled.
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>> khomeini really rattles the saudis, because the supreme ader was, in essence, undermining the saudi royal family's own credentials as the e aders of the muslim world, because they are h mecca and medina, the two holy sites in islam. this is what gives them a leadership role in the middle east (horns honking) >> smith: an absolute monarchy, the saudi royal family retainser control verything, from the untry's oil to the news media. eis is the fifth time i'v reported from here. in 2005, i was allowed a rare visit inside the royal palace in riyadh. it w the occasion of a majli where the kingdom's subjects come for a royal audiee. it reveals a lot about how this country is governed.
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crown prince aullah bin abdul aziz, a son of the kingdom's founder, was then the de-facto ruler. to one side sat sunni wahhabi clerics, guaians of tradition, who habitually resist change. on his other side, the royal mily-- allies to the wes these are the partners in power. (call to prayer over loudspeaker) >> smith: after the clerics and the royals paused to pray together, i took the chance of asking the crown prince about his family's claim to power. if it's okay, i would just like to ask you a couple of questions. he barely responded. what is the legitimacy of the monahy based on? (a ullah bin abdul aziz): >> smith: fact, their legitimacy is rooted in the deal made at the founding of the
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saudi state in 1932. king abdul aziz ibn saud, in order to ufy the warring tribes of arabia, signed a pact with fundamentalist wahhabi clerics. the wahhabis follow the teachings of an 18th-century islamic cleric, mohammed bin abd al wahhab, who had demanded a return to an older, harsher faith. >> being harsh, th reflects the ciheumstances of arabia in t 18th century. a you know, religious political movement starts, always at the beginning, they are very austere, very conservative, very harsh, very radical.tive, very harsh, very (call to pyer over loudspeaker) >> whabism, really, is an
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extremely puritan form of islam. the wahhabis believe that islam has to be cleansed of all the accoutrements, that the has to be very literal interpretation of the text. and they are very intolerant about people who don't agree with them. (man): >> smith: in riyadh i listeneda' as saudi arabis highest religious authority, the grand mufti, warned his faithfulai agnst deviation. the mufti is airect descendant of abd al wahhab. >> smith: fundamentalist sunnis believe in a direct personal connection between a believer and god. they abhor the shia embrace of clerical hierarchy, saints, shrines, and icons. (chanting)
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>> wahhabism has a very stark anti-shia perspective. there's no nuance with its perspective on shiism. shiites are heretics. shiism is a heretical strain. which makes them efftively non-muslims. they're not part of the tent. throughout the 1970s, the royal family faced dual challenges. they were trying to modernizetr the y and maintain their allianceith the wahhabi clerics. >> one of the teachings of t islam ist every muslim should at least once make a pilgrimage to mecca. >> smiththeir guardianship of the two holy mosques of mecca and medina had always been their greatest >> the facecca is the source and the shrine of islam gives saudi arabia a central place in the islamic world. >> smith: but then, in november 1979, the grand mosque of mea came undererrorist attack. >> 15,000 pilgrims were praying
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at dawn, when the 30 giant doors were sealed off by hundreds of members of a muslim sect. the first pictures of the siege showed gunfire frominarets of the muslim's world holiest shrine. an eyewitness said he heard machine guns and elosions, possibly grenades, within the mosque compound. >> the saudi leadership saw this as a challenge to the security and the stability of the kingdom. >> six or seven thousand pilgrims remain inside the buildings as hostages. >> smith: it was just days aft the hostage crisis in iran began. the assumption in the west was that in or iranian-inspired shiites were to blame. khomeini shoback, blaming the paericans. >> khomeini for hi is blaming the united states for the muslim extremist takeover in the holy mosque at cca. >> but the saudis soon found out that the attack was led by a young saudi militant-- part of a fringe group of wahhab
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extremists. r radio announcer: the gunmen seek to purify tigion from what they say is the corrupt influence of the current saudi arabian government. >> smith: then things went from bad to worse, and is time iran. was involved in the oil-rich eastern province, thousas of shia took to the streets in protest. (shouting) this is what the royals had always feared. >> the saudis rightly feared that the shia population in the eastern provinces where all of their oil is are very quickly going to gravitate towards iran, and they may bome rebellious, they may become secessionist. >> smith: a minority politically, and economicallyed exclor years, saudi shias waved pictures of khomeini andnd de that riyadh grant them more rights.
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>> smith: they were encouraged by iranian radio stations. >> smith: radio stations in iran called for the shia to rise up ainst the state here. you weren't in government at that time. >> i was a student. >> smith: you were a do you remembe >> yes. >> smith: what was your reaction then? >> it's not their business to interfere in our affairs. the saudis who are shia are saudi citizens, they belong toat the saudi their loyalty is to the saudi state. and iran or nobody ether has the right to interfere. we don't go and and y to provoke minorities in iran. we don't go and try to provoke the sunnis in iran into taking up arms against the iranian state. >> we did not take action against any country. >> smith: the iranians see it
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differently. >> we make our views clearbout the nature of governments that were submissive to the united states, governments that were presenting a message of hatred. >> smith: but back in 1979, therwere radio reports comin out of iran calling for shia in the eastern province of saudio arabiase up against the monarchy. >> well... >> smith: that snds like interference to me. >> we always rejected the use of force against governments. we may have encouraged people to ask for their rights. >> smith: to crush the uprising, the saudis pulled whole bttalions of national guard away from mecca, atally suppressed the protests. at the same time, back in mecca, after a two-week standoff, thewi army the help of french commandos, moved in with heavy
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weapons and explosives. and with permission from the wahhabi clerics. >> a religious council had to be convened to permit the assault on the holy mosque >> saudi troophave been conducting a mop up operationth e after driving out all but a handful of muslim gunmen. >> smith: scores of rebels were killed. among those captured was the ringleader, juhaymanaibi. juhayman and his followers had been outraged by recent social changes and liberalization condoned by the royal family. over the previous decade, the morchy had permitted a gra loosening of religious rules.n wod been given prominent roles in the media, and were anchoring ne programs without head coverings. western brands, pop culture, and luxury goods flooded the country. >> as the thirst for oil grows bigger, saudi arabia gets richer and ricr and richer.
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but western ney has brought western attitudes along with it. last year revenue from oil... >> the 1970s oil boom was very disruptive to a traditional society. and the reaction of some of the zealots that they had in 1979 in the takeover of the great mosque was a reaction to that modernization. >> smith: in fact, juhayman would get his way. after his ecution, the wahhabi establishment pressured the royals to put in place many of the conservative islamic practices juhayman had called for. >> the consequence of that siege, the government started ta be more conserve than it was fore. th ink the government wasso trying to lve themselves and that, "we are not anti-religious. ouwe are not anti the reli establishment." they emphasize their religious
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credentials. >> smith: women announcers were banned from tv. even western companies within saudi arabia were discouraged from employing movie eaters and music shops were shut wn. >> there was a religious authin the kingdom promoted stricter practices of islam, whether it is in prayers, in the performance of religious dutiess and social m meaning, for example, women had to be more veiled, if you like, than had previously been practiced. >> smith: as iran had embraced shia islam, saudi arabia now fully embraced its own
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fundamentalist sunni islam. the double hit that saudi arabie took, bothevolution of 1979 and the siege of mecca, did result in increasing sectarianism coming out of iran, but also coming from saudi arabia. is that a fair statement? >> i think phaps in some social context. but also, there were some who saw khomeini's effortsust be countered by similar sectarian thrust from saudi arabia. >> smith: the saudi government would grant their religioust establishmllions more saudi petrodollars to spread wahhabism around the world. >> they have to double down after 1979 because the these zealots internally, they have the threat of hey mobilize all their religious resources. they pump a lot of money into religi, basically, both domestically and
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internationally, in order to boost their legitimacy, and in order to ward off and fight the iranian threat, which was very serious. >> smith: and then came an historic opportunity to promote wahhabi ideas in a country back across the gulf. a country that had been founded as an islamic republic-- pakistan. (horns honking) the king faisal mosque in islamabad is the larst mosque in pakistan, and among the largest in the world. evoking a bedouin tent, it's named after saudi king faisal cause he funded it. ng (pra >> the kinfaisal mosque is a very powerful symbol. it was built at the height of
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e relationship between t pakistanis and the saudis. khomeini's revolution was a religious revolution in favor of shi'ism. and that really prompted the saudis theto spend so much money around the sunni world to build up support for saudi arabia and support for wahhabism. >> smith: since the 1960s the saudis he funneled over $100 billion into funding mosques and religious schools all over the world. (children praying) 60 years ago, there were two 2 madrassas in pakistan.e today there ar24,000. many of them are still teaching conservative wahhabi doctrines. a majority sunni country with a large shia population, pakistana become increasingly sectarian over the years. >>
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ou know, when i was a young boy, i didn't know who was a shia in my class or who was a sunni. it didn't matter. it was not an issue. but after the iranian revolution and after the saudi money pouring in here, we split between the shia andhe sunni.te it is afr that, '79, that this this became a major issue in pakistan. >> of course, the saudis, they nted to stop iranian influence, and pakistan became the junior partner. but i think for the saudis, the great opportunity was the soviet levasion oafghanistan. >> abc news has arned that a massive budup of soviet troops is taking place in afghanistan, leading some intelligence analysts to conclude that a soviet invasion is underway. >> smith: in the same year asth
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saudis were confronted with the iranian revolution and t siege of mecca, the soviets invaded afghanistan. the saudis szed the opportunity to defend their d slim brethren against the godless communiststo gain regional influence. they found a perfectartner in pakistan's president, zia al haq. >> president zia al haq is very much the manarge of pakistan these days. he rules the country with his own particular style. >> smith: zia had come to power in a cp and begun a campaign to islamicize every aspect of pakistani society. >> when pakist was founded, equal rights for women were enshrined in the constitution. women were accepted in many professions. under geral zia's martial law regime, the orthodox muslim view is gaining ground that a womanco should bmpletely covered and veiled. >> we'd never had such a transformative military dictator
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who wanted to change the whole british inherited colonial system of state institutions, the legal system, the constitution, and change it all towards an islamic system. zia introduced sharia courts and set a parallel islamic system of punishments.>> here are public floggings in pakistan and the authorities put microphones around the necks of those being flogged so their screams could be amplified the crowds watching the flogging. >> we started out with an open hand, hand of love and affection for the people of pakistan. but then i find that at times a squeeze has to be applied. >> all this zia carried out with his own agenda, but which was very lavishly funded by the saudis. f smith: funded by the saudis, with the supporte united states. nt in addition we are deeply grateful for presiia's visit. he's a military man who received part of his training in our country.
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he's famiar with our own nation. his knowledge of the sensitivities and ideals of america make him particularly dear to us. >> smith: beyond his expression of friendship, president carter pledged to defend pakistan and saudi arabia againstoviet expansion into the gulf with its oil. it became known as the carter doctrine. >> an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the persian gulf region will be regarded as an assault othe vital interests of the united states of america. (applause) >> the united states wanted pakistan and the region to become bastion against communism. and in order to become a bastion, they thought that these religious forces were the best to act as some sort of a great break against the expansion of communist forces. and that resulted in creating a
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monster in pakistan and in the region. >> smith: president carter n approved a covert operat which the u.s. and saudis would jointly fund the afghan mujahedeen. i >> awas pakistan and its intelligence service, isi, that d entifiedhe afghan rebel groups that they wmost to support. and so pakistan really offiliated itself with som the networks that regarded shiism as, you know, heresy. >> smith: so basically the ericans outsourced the selection of who to back to the isi, to the secret service of pakistan? >> yep. >> smith: and they chose the most radical elements of the jihadists. >> that's ly because... pakistan chose the most radical elements among the jihadists because it sawth radicalism as a potential instrument of control in
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post-soviet afghanistan. if they won the war, these were oroups that would be loyal them. >> in afghanistan, the soviets are continng their heaviest offensive of the war against the afghan rebels. >> smith: the war drged on for years. followincarter, president reagan celebrated the efforts of the afghan fighters... >> thank you vy much. >> smith: ...and dramatically increased their support. >> you are not alone, freedom fighters. america will support you with moral and material assistance-- your right not just to fight and die for freedom, but to fight and win freedom. >> intelligencsources have told nbc news that the 0 ministration is now sending secretly more thanmillion worth of military pplies to the resistance fighters in >> now w, of course, that every billion that the americans were giving to the afghan mujahedeen to fight the soviets, the saudis were matching that.
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>> smith: and the saudis did even more. had decreed the war a jihad, anr s.aged thousands of saudis to become holy war one of the first to go to pakistan and join the afghan cause was this man. >> when bin laden came to pakistan, his first job, which was given to him by the c.a. and pakistani intelligence, was actually to create ammunition dumps and arms dumpsn the utpakistan-afghan border bust inside afghanistan. and he dug out tse caves, which eventually became, ofur co, the famous caves of tora bora, where he escaped to after the americans bombed him and invaded afghanistan. >> the last major convoy of
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soviet troops from kabul has crossed the border fro afghanistan into the soviet union on its way home. the last soviet soldiers... >> smith: by 1989, after ten years of fighting, the mujahedeen had succeeded. >> 13,000 soviet soldiers t killedhe afghan guerrillas stronger today an when it all started. >> the moment the war ended, the americans handed over afghan policy to the pakistanis andhe saudis, and literally told them, i mean, "we're out of here now. you do what you will. you do what you want." d anwhat we had then was pakistani-saudi joint support for bringing in extrt afghan mujahedeen into power. and, of urse, everything stems from there. if you see the growth of al qaeda and the acts of terrorm against the west, it all stems from this original cardinal sin atereby jihad is elevated, and
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is then supportehe global level by everyone. o >> smith: manyf the jihadistsd trainer the afghan war would mature into the jihadists of al qaeda and isis, encouraged by saudi wahhabi teachings. why was it that this extremism came from your schools and from ur mosques? re it was the provocation of the iranian revolutioned a eaction in the sunni world that then translated inremism and violence on our streets. >> smith: so you blame the iranians? >> in rt, yes. and in part i blame ourselves also, in hindsight. because are there thin that we could have done? probably. but at the time at... that this was all... that all these forces were being unleashed, you deal with them at th. 30 years later, you can go back and say, "could things have been done differently?" of course.
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ar smith: that's an important reflection on your i think. i think a lot of americans feel that they never hear that fromth saudis. >> but that's the reality. that's the nate of life. you learn as you go. >> smith: while e saudis supported jihad in afghanistan, iran took sides in another region war. across the middle east, west o iraq and syria, and bordering israel, is lebanon. (horhonking) i drove south into lebanon shia heartland and the town of nabatieh. lebanon has had a large shia
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minority for hundreds of years. >> there's been a linkage between the lebanese shia and iran that goes back centuries. so there are family connections that continue to persist. th followers of khomeini going back to the 1960s have been there. >> smith: the shia had been a poor and disenfrchised group compared to lebanon's christians and sunnis. >> shia was the marginalized group in that society. population wise, they were big enough, but their share of power was not that much. so iranian revolution really was a turning point in a type identity revival. and then, of course, my other issues came, including the israeli aggression. >> the middle east appears dangerously close to all-outwa r tonight, with thousands of insidei troops dee
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lebanon. >> sth: in june 1982, israel invaded and occupied southern lebanon in order tdrive out the palestine liberation organization, which had been shelling israel from thsidents of nabatiyeh remember those days. what do you remember of the ti during the israeli occupatn? (man): >> smith: within weeks of their invasion, israel had advancedn beirut. nd>> israeli warplanes poued the area around the headquarters of the plo inbe centraut today, leaving scores of people dead and wounded. >> the israelis fired shell
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after shell into the western part of the city. some analysts said te arab world had reached an all-time low if it was prepar to stand by aen see an arab capital tak i by theaelis. (crowd chanting): >> smith: seizing an opportunity, khomeini immediately sent around 1,500 islamic revoluonary guards to lebanon. (cnting) (rafighdoost): >> sth: mohsen rafighdoost, one of the founders of the irgc, made more than 30 trips to lebanon.
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>> smith: the irgc, which had started ashomeini's private militia, was always meant to spread iran's influence throughout the islamic world. low they began recruiting shia fighters from otcalas militi. >> we had iranian revolutionary guards coming into lebanon. and they were very much the impetus to get things going. this was a very small, nascent organization back then. they would inspire the shia population there living in these little hill villages to embrace the cause of iran. and they marshalled them into military units. gey gave them basic train and some weaponry as well. and gradually the ideology of hezbollah spread from the beqaa to the shia areas ofern beirut. (men singing song):
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>> smith: why was lebanon given such a priority? >> well, i think they recognized... first of all, there's the obvious ideologicale strugainst israel. and there was an opportunity to be had. >> hezbollah, the party of god, the most fanaticalf lebanon's shiite muslims, are now firmly, openly a successfully ftablished in beirut. day by day theirollowing grows.: >> smithwhen exactly hezbollah was formally established is still contested, but a turning point for the group came by accident in 1983, during the ashura festival in nabatieh. ashura in nabatieh is particularly dramatic.
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the shia faithful cuand beat themselvesloody to honor the death of husayn, the prophet muhammad's grandson, who was martyred in the 7th century. but on this day, an israeli military convoy lost its way and drove into the cro. people began throwing rocks. the israeli soldiers fired backo at least twoe were killed, and many injured. tensions had been calating for months. >> this just in from beirut. at least0 u.s. marines and ten french soldiers are dead after two explosions.ek >> smith: a ater there was an attack on israel's allies france and the unid states. >> a truck filled with explosives crashed through the te... >> smith: a suicide bomber driving a truck loaded with tnt blewp the barracks of u.s. marines who had been stationed as peacekeepers. >> a minute later, the same happened here at a frenchua military headqers.
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>> smith: at almost the same time, another suicide driver crasheinto the french barracks a few miles away. >> in lebanon the death toll has been steadily climbing all day-- 125, 135... >> smith: 241 u.s. marines and 58 french paratroopers died. >> the exploon was the worst attack on the marines... >> smith: the era of suicide bombings had begun. the attacks were widely attributed to hezbollah acting under iranian direction. and they continued. >> the latest attack bringto more than 100 the number of k peopleled in bombings in lebanon this year.e >> smith: attacks seemed to be working. hezbollah won new followers. >> more and more fundamentalist shiite muslims are volunteering hato blow themselves up in they see as the holy fight against oppression. >> smith: the u.s. pulled out and israel was forced to retreat.el israould eventually withdraw all its troops from lebanon.
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(shoutin >> never before had we seen an israeli withdrawal from occupied arab territory. so that was basically the big turning point-- the image of hezbollah as a successful force, which achieved what other other arab militaries were not able to achieve. (singing) >> sth: hezbollah marks thei victories every year in a celebration they call liberatio sistance day. >> smith: hezbollah's security would not allow us to bring our own camera crew, so they assigned us one of the own. (man singing):
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>> smith: hezblah has grown into a major political party with a perful militia. designated a terrorist organization by the u.s., hezbollah is widely seen as controlled by iran. but hashem safieddin of the party's highest ranking officials, disagrees... (safieddine): an smith: the connection between hezbollah and ir is hard to deny. hezbollah's name, the party of god, was given by ayatollah khomeini. its emblem is modeled on thegc . and they hold allegiance to the current supreme leader, ayatollakhamenei. (man):
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>> the ideology comes ry much from iran. sit just the military training, but the very int religious lessons that they undergo. even after they've bome full-fledged fighters, they're still learning about islam and about the velayat-e faqih and all this kind of thing. >> smith: velayat-e faqih, "guardianship of the jurist"-- khomeini's core doctrine thatve im ultimate religious and political authority. >> velayat-e faqih, this is really the backbone of hezbollat binds all its constituents parts together. they have to subscribeo this central ideological pillar. (man): >> smith: with iranian funding, training, arms, and exported
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ideology, iran turned hezbollah into a powerful militia that serves iran's interests. ty for secuhezbollah's leader, hassan nasrallah, lomost always speaks from an undisclosetion. (nasrallah): >> smith: was it as clear at the time that this was to be a major iranian project? >> i don't think theans necessarily planned that, you know, in 35 years, by 2017, we will have turned hezbollah int this massive military machine that is even stronger than the lebanese army that israel has called for the first time in t january s year its greatest threat. today, my guesstate on their strength is a standing army of
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20,000 fully trained fights. >> smith: and it's a force that projects outside of the borders of lebanon. >> and it's now a force that projects outside. and it allows iran to project its influence across... across the region. >> smith: one can't fully understand iran and the bitter divides in the region today without looking back to the 1980s and the iran-iraq war. (man speaking over loudspeaker) a ch year iran rolls out a huge military parade to commemorateth eight-year-long conflict. they see it as instrumental ing shapeir foreign policy stance today. >> this event is also anun opportity for iran to show off its military power...
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ey>> smith: here is where parade their latest long-range missiles. >> ...uniting to keep out foreign invaders. >> we are required to produces sr own mean defense because the unitedtes conducts a campaign of preventing iran from acquiring its means of defense.ho (maning on loud speaker) that campaign started during the iran-iraq war. so we have to do our own defense. >> smith: i don't think it's aat war thmericans understand very well. your generation, that now leads iran, you were all shaped that experience. >> but it's a very unate fact that people have short memories. s and, actualle of them may not want to remember what >> iraq deed today that its fighting with iran is now a full-scale war.y twice todairaqi warplanes bombed iranian air bases. iran retaliated with heavy damage to both sides.
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>> smith: in the year followingl khomeini's rution, saddam hussein suddenlyttacked iran.ns (loud explosio) he sensed an opportunity to both capture territory and possibly topple the regime before it became a threat. >> are they interested in knking off, in toppling th khomeini regime?bs >> autely, they'd like to see khomeini gone and a moderate gime embedded... >> this was a shock and awen operatmost. everybody expected the iranian government to fall within seven days.>> nder khomeini, iran's armed forces are a pale shadow of their former selves. the best officers have beened pu, shot or escaped.: >> smian's military was woefully unprepared. without money or allies, iran focused on building up their ground troops. >> t same way that the revolution succeeded, imam khomeini brought people by
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millions to the war against this aggression. (crowd chanting) >> smith: ayatollah khomeini told his pple that iran's troops were "equipped withne diviower." (crowd chanting) many of those encouraged to gn up were just boys.ld >> how os he? how old this guy? he must be 14, 14 or something. but he has come here to fight. he has left his mother, he has left his father, just to fight the iraqis. >>mith: boys as young as 1 were sent into battle with keys to wear around their necks--y keys there told that as shia martyrs would get them into heaven. ly poorrained and barely armed, these young soldiers were meant to clear the way for the more experienced regular troops in what became known as human wavek at
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>> young boys aged ten and upwards sent in human waves by qie iranians against the is. they're told of the glory of martyrdom. god will make themnvisible to their enemies. unfire, explosions) hi, i'm mohammed. >> smith: mohammed, good to meet you. one of the few repor to witness these human wave attacks was mohammed salam, who had been reporting for the associateds. pres >> come on in. >> smith: thank you. i found him atis home in beirut.di you see these waves of children? >> oh, yes, oh my god, they gave eir little children, the children soldiers-- 12, 13 years old-- these keys to heaven. i mean, that's-- that's-- that-- that's really-- that's-- that's something that made me cry. i mean, usually the group was a group of children with an elder guy who had the imama, religiou- who was the leader.
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they go through these minefields. then they go through the-the iraqi... fortifications thatua were ay protected by a network of napalm mines. then they ter iraq, and during all this process, they were under shelling. they were being blown up. earth up, sky down. (helicopter rotors wrring) they were being bombed bywa helicopters,rplanes, by and stepping on mines. khers and thept coming! they kept coming. they kept coming. they were likectually like sea waves. tand there were more humahan bullets. they were stepping on their' colleabodies. (explosions) >> smith: these human wave
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attacks turned out to be extremely successful. iran learned that by sheer force of numbers they could compete against iraq's superior military power. over the course of the war, hundredsf thousands of iranian boys would be sent to the front lines. ♪ by spring of 1982, iranhi succeeded in png iraq back.ea >> the iraqider, saddam hussein announced a voluntary withdrawal from all captured territory. >> smith: iran was then faced with the decision to either accept a ceasefirer advance into iraqi territory. >> iranians are showing signs of resistance to the very idea of a ceasefire. >> smith: khomeini chose war. he declared that iran would not be satisfied until saddam hussein was toppled. (singing): in smith: taking the holy
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city of karbala iraq-- that became the battle cry for iranian troops. karbala is where in the 7th century the revered imam husayn was martyred. it's an event depicted in iranian films. >> so imam hussain is the prophet muhamm's grandson. he claimed to be the successor to the prophet. ♪ and there was a very famous battle that took place in karbala between him the sunni army. the army surrounded him and his supporters, many of his supporters abandoned him, and he was utally murdered by this sunni army. (man in film):
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his murder, his abandonment fo his followers has become a great tragic talthe shia community. for most of shia history, that story, the story of hussain, was one of admitting defeat, of accepting your fate as having to live under unjust circumstances. what ayatollah khomeini did was thate reinterpreted this story. it became a source for activist politics for shias to not accept their permanent fate having to live in an unjust state, but rather one in which they couldnt take matters io their hands and try to change the world. >> ...a dawn raid by iranian
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jets. >> fighting on a massive scale is continuing this morning along the ir-iran... >> smith: with khomeini's push into iraq, the war entered a dangerous new phase. >> ...heavy casualties on both sides. >> smith: sunni gulftes who had mostly stayed out of theca fight now be involved. >> no let-up in this war is in sight. eg >> when khomeini b attacking iraq and declaring, blicly, that his aim was to topple saddam and liberate baghdad,ud that's when arabia and the other g.c.c. countries decided to support saddam hussein, along with european and-and-and american countries as well. >> their nations running into millions from countries like saudi arabia enable saddam hussein to buy the arms to keep the war going. >>,e supported saddam husse because saddam hussein was an ally. it was a war betweenran and iraq. iraq is an arab untry. we had difference agreements within the arab league, and so we supported iraq.
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iran at the time publicly called for the overthrow of the saudi government. >> they want to export their revolution. they want to topple the monarchies. w tht to send their militias. of course, the saudis will support iraq. >> iraq buys weapons around the world. countrieinclude france, west germany, russia, jordan, and china and many more. >> we were up against a regime that was receiving equipment from almost everybod the americans provided it with awac's intelligence. the french provided it with mirage fighters. the russians provided with mig fighters. >> smith: and the saudis? >> the saus provided it with all the money they need. >> the ayatollah khomeini has called on the iraqi army to desert and overthrow iraq's n.president, saddam hussei op>> smith: khomeini had h iraq's shia-- a majority of the population-- would support iran. but as iraqis, they opposed khomeini's invasioof their country...
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>> when the revolution haraened in iran, a lot of a sympathized with theevolution for various reasons. s>> smith: sunnis as well shias? >> sunnis as well as shias. but once iran started the war machine and started trying to export the revolution, then people srted to realize gradually that this is really ar sen way to dominate. >> war has become a way of life for both sides, as has as hating each other. >> this bldy war, which has cost 200,000 lives... >> smith: saddam hussein, now fully emboldened by his ar and western allies, did not hold back. >> iraq said it will use any means at its disposal to vanquish the iranians.n >> saddam husswas not a joke, that was a regime. a real tough, cruel regime. i mean you cannot... >> smith: mohammad salam was in iran with iraqi troops after one notably brutal battle. >> after the battle, i went to the battlefield. and i found something strange.
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i found thousands and thousandsn of iraoldiers in trenches holding their aks and dead. i couldn't understand what happened. they had no bullet wounds. they had nothing. they simply had blood up their noses and mouth. and they had urinated in their clothes. and we started counting andnt counting anding. s a full day counting bodies. lines of bodies, like the photos of world war i in trenches. but obviously it was the first evidence i saw of the effect of chical weapons. >> smith: so you reported this. >>es. >> smith: there was no outrage? >> oh, no, nothing. no, nothing. no, nothing. >> smith: in the arab press
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there was no outge? >> iraq came out victorious, period. >> smith: that chemical attack was one of the first of a series launched by saddam hussein. recently declassified c.i.a. documents have revealed that the reagan administration knew about saddam hussein's use of chemical weapons. and they suspected he might get away with it. at least once the c.i.e hussein the intelligence he needed to target iranian combat units, despite knowing he could again use chemical weapons. >> these dead iranians soldiers lie where they fell. but they do not bear the mutilaon or obvious signs of artillery or small arms fire, a possible indication that chemical weapons have been used. >> these were crimes against humanity. ho american officialsd be in prison for these crimes because they gave saddam hussein t technology.
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i was a victim of chemical attacks personally, and i survived two attacks. where was the outrage? there was no outrage. >> in the persian gulf today, both iran and iraq have staged new attacks against each otherpl while diatic efforts intensify in an effort to ing about a ceasefire. >> smith: finally, in 1988,te eight years afr it began, with omthe war at a stalemate, eini agreed to a >> jt as a un team arrived in tehran to discuss a truce in the eight-year-old gulf war, iran. said that ir >> smith: as many as one million people had died. >> this has cost more lives than any conflict since world war ii. >> smith: both iran and iraq's countries and economies had been devastated. iran had been internationally isolated by the but six yebefore, iran couldve hatopped it. you had a chance to bring that ecr to an end in 1982. and yet you madeions at
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the top of the government to continue the war. >> no, no, no, no. it was important that they confess. our condition was that, no, we do not stop the war unless you confess that saddam hussein is started this war. >> smith: was it a mistake to reject the ceasefire? >> n no, in 1988, we had a resolution, 598, which addressed iran's major demand. that iraq was responsible to initiate this war. at was very important for us. >> smith: but a lotta lives were lost in the interim. >> it's the unfortunate situation. >> smith: for that principle... >> thaquestion that the iranian people need to ask the international community. why didn't anybody in theat intenal community say a word about the iraqi use of chemical weapons? i believe the international community owes iran an explanation for its disastrous behavior.
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an doesn't owe anybody any explanation for defending itself. >> from iran came a statement reportedly from ayatollah khomeini, who admitted that anging his position and agreeing to a ceasefire was like taking poison. he indicated that he oy did it because things had become so desperate in iran that the survival of the relution depended upon it. >> i think more than any other historic event, it's been the iraq war which has really shaped the worldview and t attitudes islamic republic of iran. and it's notable when you look at the last will and testament of ayatollah khomeini, he reserves the most amount ofed not towards america, not towards israel, but towards saudi arabia. w and i think really as a result of saudi arabia's support for saddam hussein. >> smith: khomeini's mausoleum
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is just south of tehran. after accepting the ceasefire, his son wrote that the ayallah "never again spoke in public."a e later he died. but for iranians, rvival of the revolution was its own victory. >> and the fact that they didn win that war, but they didn't lose that war, was a testament to tm of their resolve and o the strength of their ideology. of the strength of their faith, that they could basically fight the entire world. they could fight the united stat. they could fight iraq. they could fight chemical weapons. th could fight saudi arabi and do it all with not having to capitulate on their ideals, on their beliefs, or even on their geographical integrity. >> smith: 14 years later, iran would have another chance
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to extend its power into iraq, is time thanks to the united states. this was, once upon a time, the fertile crescent. saddam's turned it into a desert. >> smith: i came to iraq for the first time in 2003, right after the fallddam. i was with the iraqi writer and activist kanan makiya who, for more than a decade, had been at the center of efforts to topple saddam. he hadn't seen baghdad since he was 19. how do you feel coming back here? >> i feel that the size of the task is overwhelming, facing reconstruction of this country. >> smith: i was with you in 2003.
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>> yeah. >> smith: just as the american soldiers had taken down saddam. we followeon their heels, drove up from kuwait. you favored that iasion. >> i did. for me that kind of regime was an abomination that i was... i-i was prepared to say, and i still think is true, the country had no future whatsoever until-until that abomination was eliminated. (crowd cheering) (gunshots) >> smith: for years, makiya had been watching as saddam's sunni arab regime had suppressed all opposition, includg the majority shia population with threats, eulsions and a routine brutality. (shouting)
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>> (translated): in accordance with the law, we say he who collaborates with a foreign party is sentenced to death. (gunshots) >> smith: back in 1991 the sa had risen up against saddam. ke u.s. had just driven saddam's army out ait. >> out with that brutal dictator in baghdad. (crowd cheering) >> smith: but president george bush sr. had decided it would be unwise to take out saddam. he encouraged iraq to do it themselves. >> ...the iraqi military and the iraqi people to take matters into their own hands and force saddam hussein, the dictator, to step aside. (man speaking on loudspeaker) >> smith: the shia believed the u.s. would come to their aid. they were wrong. (loud explosio)am sa came after them with extreme violence.
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>> we used to calculate casualties of the 1991 uprisingt 0,000 to 60,000 people in human rights reports and so on. weow are talking 100,000 people killed. the regime did something for the first time that it hadn't done before. it attacks shiites as wd cheering) >> smith: saddam held t o power. but makiya and other iraqi iles continued to press the us to help remove him. >> and i said this at the time, the chan something dramatically better than saddawas a very small chance. i personally felmorally obligated to struggle for that five percent, ten percent chance that the transition from saddam to something better might be possible. ♪ an
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>> smiththen came 9/11, and its consequences... >> the war on terror is not hanfined strictly to the al qaeda that we'reng. the war on terror involves saddam hussein. >> smith: this president bush would do what his father had not. >> ...the history of saddam hussein. >> saudi arabia has publicly opposed u.s. military action against iraq and says the u.s. won't be allowed to use saudi air bases. >> smith: the bush administration sent vice president dick cheney to saudiia aro get their support for an invasion. but crown prince abdullah warned against it. >> ...change in the saudi stance. >> abdullah, in particular, felt that we were actively woing against saudi national security interests. >> smith: to destabize the neighborhood and allow for iran to move in. >> yeah, and not to heed saudi counsel, which was, "don't do this." >> we do not want people to rush
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hainto something that coul disastrous consequences. do you know what will happen the day after? what if... >> saudi arabia knew that if yom h the state in iraq, you would open up a pandora's just knew it that iraq would implode. and then it would offer anit opportto the iranians to take it over, which is exactly what happened. >> smith: but u.s.-saudi relations were tense. 15 of e 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks were saudis. >> the relationship between the united states and saudi arabia at that point was so poisoned by o11, there was really very little willingnessthe american side to heed this advice. they felt that the saudis, while maybe not directly complicit in 9/11, were indirectly complicit. but the momentum for the invasion out of the pentagon and elsewhere, as we well know, was unstoppable. >> this was central d today as saddam hussein's regime nally lost control. >> the statue of saddam hussein
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is still hanging on the pedestal, but as it collapsed a great roar came out from the crowd. there it goes, it is falli down to the ground. it has come ap the crowd is going mad, rushing towards it, they've been pelting it with stones. >> smith: taking baghdad took just three weeks. but the bush administration failed to anticipate what woulde co next. hanting) >> there was a complete failure tonderstand the sunni-shia equation that existed in iraq at the. i think the americans have never ally understood, even as late as after 9/11, when there should have been much greater understanding of the muslim world, the depth of the antagonism between shi'ism and sunnism. >> smith: with saddam suddenly gone, the fervor and strength of the shia population was on view
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for the first time. (man singingay justafter baghdad was taken, shia poured into the streets to begin one of theires holipilgrimages, the arbaeen. it commemorates the 40th day after imam husse's death. (chanting) an estimated two million pilgrims turned out. shia themselves were surprised at their numbers. a the shia power came as wave, no one was expecting there is this majority here in the country. we didn't know there hadeen arab shias. we thought shi'ism is iranism. and then we recognize that we have, we have shi'ism in iraq. so the fall of saddam hussein really exposed the whole situation. this made it a direct fight between shi'ism and sunnism. (shouting):
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>> smith: leading the pilgrims that day was an ayatlah just back from years of exile in iran. he and other returni exileser were eago remake iraq into another shia islamist state. (chanting):ve >> basically, ry early on, you have shia political groups that amcome very important in shia politics, after sa hussein. groups that had just spent the last 20 years learning persian becoming very close fries with iranian leaders, with leaders of the i.r.g.c., and trusting them as much as they trusted any government. (crowd cheering) >> what the 2003 invasion did was give iran an opportunity that it could never have dreamtv of hg, which was to bring shiites into power in iraq who were beholden to the iranian
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state. (man): (crowd chanting) >> smith: the americans did you a favor. they took out saddam hussein. >> oh, yes, you are right.fa they did us r. >> smith: in tehran they were elated. >> to take saddam hussein that we wanted to do. so you wersacrificing your own soldiers for our aim. >> the american role in iraq is just puzzle, i think for me and i think... >> smith: in saudi arabia they were dumbfounded. >> why wou the american hand the government to the allies of iran? iran is considered a sponsor of terrorism by the americans. ho
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>> and thoseere on high before, in particular the baathists, who used their power to repress the iraqi peoe, will be removed from office. >> smith: then, american envoy, paul bremer, handed iran another gift. >> shortly, i will issue anre order on meato extirpate ba'athists and ba'athism from iraq forever. >> smith: 30,000 to 40,000 members of saddam's ba'athist party-- most of them sunnis-- b werened from holding any public office. and the iraqi army was dissolved. protests broke out immediately. s moderaa leaders had warned the u.s. against de-ba'athification. >> i considered what happened as a very wrong mistake a going to be disastrous for the country.
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(abdul latif al humayem): (shouting) >> the way it was applied it became an instrument to intimidate people, evele not ba'athists. it became really a way to-to push people out. (siren blaring) >> smith: violence followed bremer's orders. iarst a car mb detonated outside the jordanembassy, killing 18 people. 12 days later, a second attack.
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(debris falling, shog) this one was on the unad quarters. >> the attack was similar to last week's bombing of the jordanian embassy in baghdad. >> smith: the attas had been planned by radical sunni extremists. their leader was a jordanianho had been trained in the mujahedeen camps of afghanistan-- abu musab al zarqawi.el later he wouldosama bin laden that he aimed to begin ar. sectarian (people shouting) ten days after the un attack, a massive bomb exploded outside the holy shia shrine of imam ali in najaf just after friday prayers. more than a hundred people we killed. embitteredunnis and officers once part of saddam's regime now joined zarqawi's cause. >> we saw abu musab alqawi, and we are seeing a
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proliferation of these groups, like-minded onesging up and joining the cause. >> for the officers who served during saddam regimei cut his salary and i put him in e street. ilat do you expect from him? of course, he-hefight. he will join all the military groups who try to destabilizee thuntry, because he lost all of his rights. >> these guys are spreading an growing. they have hundreds if not thousands of new iraqi recruits. >> there was a sense in the region that sunnis had lost and that iran was on the rise cause suddenly shias had more power in iraq. sunnis, in principle, should not feel like they are helpless. they represent 80% of muslims in the region. and yet, many of them are feeling wronged, and it's hard to argue with that perception.
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(chattering) >> smith: samarra, in centra iraq. during much of the ninth century, this was the capital of the great sunni abbasid dynasty, an islamic empire that stretched from north africa acrohe middle east and into cenal asia. the great mosque of samarra completed in 851 was then the largest mosque in the world.d it could hre than 10,000 worshippers. (mahmoud mohammad): >> smith: samarra is a majority sunni city, but it's also an impoant shia pilgrimage site (radio chatter) they come to worship under the golden dome of the al askari
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mosque, one of the most sacred sites in all of shiaology. local sunnis used to join them (mahmoud mohammad): >> iraq got worse today, a lot worse. terrorists committed a uniquely shocking act of religious violence. >> smith: in 26, two bombs set off by zarqawi's al qaeda in iraq destroy the dome. shia took to the streets andga n a new wave of sectarianis reprals. (chanting) these were among the darkest days iraq has everndured. >> the anguish and rage of the shia crowds soon turned into bloody retaliation. ss the attack has sparked rage and revenge acrohe country. the majority shia are venting their fu on the minority sunni
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muslims. >> many iraqis have been killed in the last two days; 47 menom were pulled uses near baghdad and executed. sunni mosques are pock marked by bullets, some still oldering after grenade attacks. >> smith: within a week of t samarra bombing, scores of sunni mosques were reported attacked; sunni imams were killed. bodies were draggethrough the streets. the violence would only escalate. the police lost control. (gunshots) (crying out in pain) (shouting) (sirens blaring) (radio chatter) >> smith: i was in iraq a few nths after the bombing. by that point, the bodies of
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sunni men were turning up regularly on the streets of baghdad. >> bravo chaie, this is alpha, we found a dead body, over. it >> smith: shia m, many of them funded and trained by iran, were operating dea squads from within the shia-led government. >> he has no eyes, his ear's been cut off, his nose has been cut off. tore off part of his skin. >> smith: you see a lot of this? fi yes. >> how often do yo bodies? (exhaling) >> um... every day, every other day. >> there was a particularly gruesome style of murder, basically a shiaool, where it was death by power drill. that's kinda how you could tell who was the victim. the guy had drill holes in his head, he was probably a sunni
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taken by the shia. i mean, what-what the sunnis did was no nicer.k but it had s that level. it was a... it was a horrible, hoible period. >> smith: and who were the shiites that were doing this? >> well,here was quite a collection. certainly, the badrs, the badr brigade was involved in it. bhanting) >> smith: the bagade was just one of many militias operating under the guidance of iran's islamic revolutionary guard corps.he >> t i.r.g.c. is the branch of the iranian military that do foreign operations. not doing direct fightingt themselves, pporting allies. helping with training. helping with logistics. helping with funding. where iran excels is that ground game. is working with people outside of iran's borders being able to create actual relationships of
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trust, and being able to get those groups to do what iran wants do. (car horns honking) >> the were hundreds of different armed groups. on the shia side, r more so than on the sunni side. (chanting) and the iranns were having a field day playing or arming this grou contacting this group. all of thewere turning back to the iranians. >> smithqais al khazali runs one of the most powerful iranian-backed shia litias in iraq today. he claims to have launched,000 attacks against american and allied forces. following the bombing of samarra, he turned his sights on al qaeda. (qais al khazali):
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(man shouting) >> smith: khazali, who has nevee spoken to an acan tv reporter before, was open about the support iran gave to his shia militia in those days. (qais al khazali): (horn honking) >> the tensis are sustained by violence committed on both sides. the shiite militias have not been disarmed. sectarian scores are settled. from 2006 to 2007, each month some 3,000 iraqis were killed. (sirens blaring)
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>> tin removal of saddam husse created this perfect opportunit iran to establish leverage over an important arab capital, baghdad, and that forced the saudis to try to, you know, counteract that and to confront iran. au thdi-iranian competition is primarily a competition about the direction of politics in the middle east. the two never fight, but they have access toroxy forces throughout the region that can dohe fighting on-on-on their behalf. >> smith: within saudi arabia the royals were conflicted about how toespond to the situation in iraq.
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>> the saudi royal family was in a real difficult position and it orwas on the defensive-- wried ssout sanctions, worried about other forms of preure if it were aused again of supporting (indistinct chatter)al qaeda. i on the other hanhad a restive population, full of radical ideas, which it hadve fundedmany years. kn you there were certainly some people in saudi arabia who thought that it was just and important to counter iran'sra influence inafter the u.s. invasion. >> smith: th saudi insurgent was encouraged to go to iraq to fight the newly empowered shia. o
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>> shad young saudi men turning up as volunteers in sunni territory of iraq facilitated by the same kinds of networks that have facilitated the jihad in afghanistan, preaching networks, charity networks, volunteer networks. >> smith: networks that got money from the government. >> networks that were funded by the government. very much. and those volunteers would turn up and the next thing, you know, a saudi father would know he'd be getting a call from somebody on a celphone in baghdad saying, "your glorious son was martyred in a car bombing yesterday, you know, he's a video of his last moments." ♪ >> smith: from riyadh and other gulf capitals, money also streamed into iraq for the sunnis taking up arms. (al humayem):
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(loud explosion) (speaking foreign language) >> and abdlah, in particular, was still so bitter toward usfo r having carried out the invasion in the first place. i'm sure he was paying people here and there, but without a clear policy objective that weco uld determine. >> smith: paying whom? >> various sunni leaders. they were supporting the tribal leaderships. those were the allegations. i mean, you know, there was ver any evidence for tha >> smith: i understand there was
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no evidence, but what was your belief? >> i... my belief was that the saudis, at... were not funding al qaeda directly, by any means. did some of their largesse get to al qaeda? probably. (loud explosions) >> shock and awe, but th time sunni insurgents were sending the bombs. the series of coordinated asts were in mainly shia areas have claimed more than 50 lives. >> an al qaeda group claimed redonsibility today and war of more attacks against iraq's government. >> saudi arabia was joining the great struggle against shi'ism. and they were successful in so far as, you know, the sectarian genie had been let out of the bottle. >> the situation in this country has done nhing but deteriorate from al qaeda, the local insurgency, the death squads buried within this government, to to iranian influence.
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all of it...>> ut the iranians had much greater influence. because they had an influence over theajority shia population and the new iraqi government, which was shia. ov smith: at the end of that year, the shia-lednment in baghdad cemented their power and pushed their sectarian agendang further by rusorward to execute saddam hussein. it was a decision carried out despite u.s. and arab concerns. >> we were worried that something will happen. we don't know what's that something happen. the americans will change their mind. saddam will run away from-- "run away"-- from the american prison. all sorts of things he can be done. >> smith: you had bodies showing up on the streets of the neighborhoodin baghdad every day. i was here, i saw it. and in the midst of this, you have a sunni arab leader who is
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up for execution. i mean, the sectian component of this or dimension of this wasn't lost on you? >> i can assure you that there was no shred of settlires or revenge in my heart or in my mind when we carried the execution. (man speaking foreign language) >> smith: but it was just that. the government released an official video of the execution. but that is not what most of the arab world saw and heard. >> the government said a numbe of the relatives of those who were killed by saddam's were asked to attend his execution. but they started filming-- through their iphones and so on-- the scene and started shouting sectarian slogans.
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(shouting) >> smith: muqtada referred to the militant shia cleric whose father had been tortured and killed by saddam. dd responded: "muqtada? is this how you show youren bravery as m?" (shouting) >> saddam, throughout the whole incident, handled himself very well. the rope was put around his neck. he rused the hood. he asked to be allowed to read verses from the koran. >> in the meantime this jeering shouting crowd hurng insults. >> and halfway through the reading of the koran, the trapdoor was released. (man):
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>> the only person who emerged from that scene, that piece of theater, with dignity was the arch-criminal himself, saddam hussein. >> sth: so you were the man that pulled the lever. >> that's right. >> smith: that released the door. >> yes. and saddam came down >> smith: but clearly then there was a sectarian tone to the hating and his response. >> i didn't see itway. mi >>: many sunnis did see it that way. (chanting): (gunshots) >> smith: around the world they came out to protest. ka india, sri l. (chantin in the west bank, demonstrators
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carried the green saudi flag a railed against iran and shia. (shouting): >> smith: the execution was meanto mark the end of saddam's reign of terror. instead he emerged as a sunni hero who had stood up to both the americans and their shiapa rtners. (chanting) >> really we shouldn't have given him that status. i mean, this dictator, this tocriminal, to turn him in hero, you see, and courageous, with all this slogans, you see,n of sectaontent. it's bad. it helped him; it damaged us.
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(chanting): >> i was physically sick that day. and any lingering doubts and hopes, et cetera, dissipated. ♪ >> smith: so this weighs heavily on you? >> it did, for many years. and, naturally, for a year ordn two i wo admit to the failure in all its magnitude. but that was a turning point for me personally. it's sickening, you know, to think that i had-- you know, i had a role in this was... was shameful. ♪
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>> narrator: next time, in part two, our journey continues into the war torn landscape of syria. on one side, iran. >> so iran becomes basically the war ministry in syria. >> narrator: and on the other, saudi arabia. >> we support the syrian people. the iranians are killing the syrian people. >> narrator: and into a devastating war in yemen.en >> yemen was tver by a militia allied with iran and nozbollah. the iranians hav business in yemen. w know that yemen is important for saudi arabia and we never want to stab saudi arabia in the back.t' >> 's another destroyed building there. >>shen elephants fight, it' the grass that suffers there's been over a million ecasualties in the middleast over the last decade. they've been syrian.e
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they'vbeen iraqi. they've been yemeni. >> where did the missile hit? >> iranian and saudi citizens aren't the ones that are suffering. >> narrator: next time, a dangerous rivalry and its tragic consequences. >> gto to learn more about the making of "bitter rals". >> what brings you here today? >> read the interview with ambassador ryan crocker and others about the rivalry between iran and saudi arabia. >> abdullah, in particular, felt that we were actively working against saudi national security interests. >> to destabilize the onighborhood... >> connect to the ine community on facebook and twitter, and if stories like this matter to you, then sign up for our newsletter at >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbsio stfrom viewers like you. thank you. major support is provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to buildina more just, verdant and peaceful world. additional support is provided
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by the ford foundation: working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide. the park foundation, ded to heightening public awareness of critical issu. the john and helen glessner family trust. supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. and by the froline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo ann hagler. major support for frontline and for "bitter rivals" was provided by the corporation for public broadcasting. with additional support from the henry luce foundation's initiativen religion in international affairs. and the pew charitable trusts, driven by the wer of knowledge to solve today's most challenging problems. captioned by media access group at wgbh >> for more on this and other programs, visit our website at
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