In Azadistan, a group is gathered in a mosque to discuss with their leader Rasa on how the legislative assembly is going against God’s teachings. They feel that this land was given by God and that infidels are now being let in, and they fear that the reformists are taking the land from them. The group knows that Rasa has a lot of influence on the people, but Rasa settles them down because he feels that the princess and assembly who have gone against the teachings will eventually receive divine punishment. He thinks they should wait for God’s retribution, but the men are impatient and don’t want this to become a repeat of the Kurdish Republic. They want to give God’s punishment to the reformists and to drive out the infidels, but before Rasa can respond to them, gunfire erupts from outside, and men with assault rifles soon storm the room.
This situation in the Middle East developed due to how countries located there – which had relied on oil exports to support their economies in the past – had lost value thanks to the development of solar power generation systems. By UN resolution, significant oil exports regulations were adopted, and in opposition, some Middle East countries used military force. This became the solar power generation dispute that continued for 20 years. Ravaged by the dispute, the Middle East repeatedly went through divisions and unifications, and six years ago, Azadistan took over the neighboring Kurdish Republic. Although the monarchy had been revived, the difference of interpretation of the state religion divided the people into two sects, and the politically unstable situation continues now.
In the midst of this, Marina learns that Massoud Rachmadi has been kidnapped. Shirin knows that the conservatives will be convinced that this was done by reformists, and she even admits that there’s a possibility that this is true. The problem is that although the solar power generation system was approved by the assembly, not all of the citizens agreed, and the assembly has already had to mobilize their security forces. Shirin fears it’s only a matter of time before the ultraconservatives take extremist actions, and it’d be even worse if Massoud Rachmadi died. Marina doesn’t want to hear such ominous things, but Shirin tells her to think about it so that they can avoid the worst-case scenario – civil war. In fact, protests have already started around the city, and people are burning posters with Marina’s image on them.
Meanwhile, flying over Union airspace in the pink transport, Hong Long is unable to contact the Ptolemaios, meaning that if civil war breaks out in Azadistan, they’ll have to make do with what they have. Wang Liu-Mei then receives a transmission from Alejandro who reports on many skirmishes, but he feels it’s not serious yet. She wants him to evacuate, but he insists on staying because he wants to watch over this nation’s future. He’s also curious to see with his own eyes what Celestial Being does. Over in Tokyo at JNN headquarters, Kinue’s partner has found that, going back 200 years, 138 PhDs have gone missing. As he’s trying to track down the most recent disappearance, a different reporter shouts across the room about Massoud Rachmadi, an Azadistanian religious leader, being kidnapped by an armed group. With this development, Kinue thinks that Celestial Being will probably show up.
Unaware of what’s going on, Saji impresses Louise’s mother by bringing her a pizza, and it turns out that he works part-time at the pizzeria. To make her mother more receptive to him, Louise tells a sob story of how Saji lost his parents and has to live with his sister. Concluding that this is the reason Saji has to work part time, Louise’s mother suddenly warms up to him and finds him dignified looking. In fact, she even starts claiming that he resembles her husband. Back in Azadistan, Marina remembers when she had met with Rasa Massoud Rachmadi to tell him that she had finally decided to ascend the throne. To her surprise, he had been opposed to it, and he explained to her that although this country was newly reborn, the people who live there have history, families, and God’s teachings. A lot of people, including him, don’t like change, and for the sake of peace, someone was needed who is receptive to their feelings.
As Marina is feeling that she might have made a mistake, Shirin comes in to report that the conservatives are boycotting the assembly. What’s more, the reformists have secretly started pursuing military aid from Union. Marina realizes that this will only incite the ultraconservatives, and she questions why Union would help. Elsewhere in the Azadistan, Wang Liu-Mei has rendezvoused with Setsuna and Lockon and explains that they need to let the whole country know that Massoud Rachmadi is safe in order to calm the impending civil war. The problem is that the people of this country dislike different cultures, so Setsuna volunteers to help since he’s from Azadistan. Before Setsuna leaves, Lockon makes it a point to warn him about becoming emotional since this is a crisis in his birthplace. Wang Liu-Mei then informs them that Veda has estimated the probability to be high that Massoud Rachmadi was not kidnapped by reformists, so either the conservatives did it or a third party did.
Walking through Azadistan reminds Setsuna of his violent past here, and he soon notices everyone eyeing him suspiciously. To his surprise, a boy approaches him about buying water, and when the boy learns that Setsuna has been away from here traveling the world for a long time, he excitedly asks Setsuna about the existence of a tall tower that reaches space. The boy then reveals that Marina had said that they’d also reach space some day, and since Setsuna doesn’t know who Marina is, the boy points to her picture on a nearby poster. Seeing her image reminds Setsuna of the girl he had met in Scotland. An old man then comes up to him because he recognizes that Setsuna is actually Kurdish, and he tells Setsuna to get out of here because this is not the place for him.
Meanwhile, still watching over the city, Alejandro comments on Azadistan getting Union help and how they don’t know that there are conservatives in the military too. Elsewhere, at a heavily guarded location, Massoud Rachmadi realizes the need to escape because he knows that the country is on the path of returning to turbulent times. As it turns out, his captors are led by Ali Al Sarshes who is wondering to himself what God is going to choose. Ali Al Sarshes decides that either way, it’ll be war. That night, at the solar power generation receiving antenna facilities, the religious fanatics in the military suddenly rise up against their fellow army members, and fighting erupts between each faction’s mobile suits. Patrolling the skies are Graham and his squad, and when they respond to the incident, they’re surprised to find the Azadistan forces fighting each other.
Graham hesitates because he doesn’t know who the real traitors are, and he gets to make a decision because three particle beams suddenly come out of nowhere to take out three of the Azadistan mobile suits. Graham quickly recognizes the beams to be from a Gundam. Indeed, those shots came from the Dynames, but before Graham can act, Ali Al Sarshes’ custom suit fires an array of cluster-bomb-armed missiles at the facility. There are too many bomblets for Lockon to shoot down, and several end up hitting their mark. After surveying the damage, Graham orders his wingmen to go after the enemy who shot the missiles while he personally goes after the Gundam. He’s able to dodge Lockon’s first few shots and returns fire with his custom Flag, but Lockon blocks using the Dynames’ armor. Graham surprises Lockon further by delivering a kick and tries to follow it up with a plasma sword attack, however Lockon has his own beam saber ready to counter.
As their blades are locked together, Lockon uses the Dynames’ other arm to grab one of its pistols and gets off several shots at point blank range. The custom Flag blocks all of them and starts charging again, but Graham breaks off the attack when he gets an emergency communication about Azadistan forces headed for the royal palace. This leaves him no choice but to abandon his fight with the Dynames and gather his wingmen to defend the capital instead. News of unauthorized mobile suits moving out soon reaches Marina, makes her think that there’s a coup d’état coming, and she’s forced to take shelter. Setsuna meanwhile has already started taking down enemy mobile suits inside the city, and when he finishes with one spot, Wang Liu-Mei sends him to another. It’s almost dawn by the time he flies into that town, and seeing it reminds him of his own insurgent childhood fighting against the same mobile suits.
Because of this, he pushes the Exia to quickly take down the mobile suits, but unfortunately he’s too late. He couldn’t save the children who were fighting, and the sight of their corpses drives him over the edge against the remaining mobile suits. Back at the capital city, Union forces secure the airspace, and Graham wonders if the religious people going out of control invite such tragedy. Despite Union protecting her now, Marina realizes that the fires of anger have been lit inside of her peoples’ hearts, and she blames her own actions for leading this country to war. Seeing Marina crying, Shirin tells her to be resolute because she knows that it’s not over yet. Ali Al Sarshes meanwhile retreats, but he promises that the fun has only begun. As for the Gundam pilots, Lockon eventually locates the Exia standing amongst the rubble of a town, and Setsuna now feels that he cannot become Gundam.
So I guess Setsuna’s final line reflects his desire (and failure) to become like the Gundam that saved him in his own childhood. That’s the only way it makes sense to me anyway. Despite that, I still think he’s fairly sane, at least compared to Allelujah. Actually, now that I think about it, Celestial Being could potentially save themselves a lot of trouble if they switched the battlefields that Setsuna and Allelujah fought in. If Allelujah primarily faced Union and the AEU while Setsuna faced the Human Reform League, then there’d be a lot less chance that either pilot would lose control of themselves.
In any case, I think I’ve said before that there didn’t seem to be a true villain (just shades of gray), but it’s looking more and more like Ali Al Sarshes is that guy. Why he’s inciting civil war isn’t clear though. He’s obviously using his custom suit, but the question is if this is something the PMC wants or something he’s pursuing on his own. If it’s the PMC, it could be that they stand to profit from more war, but if it’s just him and his gang, then there’s something else at work here. We might get to find out next episode since this conflict isn’t over yet, though unfortunately there is no episode next week. Episode 13 will air on January 5th, 2008.