Safa Haeri, Iran Press Service, reports that Ahmadinejad’s latest declarations and provocations are starting to frighten highest ranking Iranian decision makers, including the regime’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i. A high ranking Iranian official quoted that probably, Ahmadinejad’s fate would be sealed in the coming months. The man being considered to replace Ahmadinejad is former president Mohammad Khatami.
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As much as I am relieved that the brave British soldiers will be home tomorrow I have some doubts about the outcome of the whole propaganda. Although Downing street approached Iranians as careful as possible in favor of its service men and women being held in Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once again proved that he was the puppet master behind the show. First the revolutionary guards-who are the closest military allies of Mr president arrested the soldiers in Iraqi waters and paraded them on their very own TV station Al Alam, then Ahmadinejad himself refused to comment on the issue until suddenly after almost 2 weeks he announced their release on a postponed press conference, as an Easter gift to Britain. This can however, be dangerous as Ahmadinejad’s administration believes that they have won the media war and West’s soft response (in terms of using force) has assured them they can carry on with their nuclear weapon’s program no matter how the West reacts.
I strongly believe that in a similar situation the coalition forces should respond beyond the quiet diplomacy to let the Iranian government know such a behavior will not be tolerated.
This is what Tony Blair had to say to the Iranian people:
“We bear you no ill will. On the contrary, we respect Iran as an ancient civilisation, as a nation with a proud and dignified history.”
The 1979 take-over of the American embassy in Tehran was an international crisis and the first major confrontation between the West and revivalist Shiite Islam. If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had his way, however, it would have been much worse.
According to an al-Jazeera profile of Ahmadinejad written during his presidential campaign, Ahmadinejad was not only one of the leaders of the attack on the American embassy, he urged the students to seize the Soviet embassy as well.
It’s hard to imagine the implications of a simultaneous attack on the two embassies, both for Iran and Cold War politics. Presumably the response would be unprecedented cooperation between the superpowers culminating in devastating strikes on Iran’s new regime. Whatever the result would’ve been, Ahmadinejad’s suggestion demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of Cold War balancing, a self-defeating bravado, and, worst, an underlying irrationality.
As the international community wonders whether sanctions or other forms of peaceful coercion will deter Ahmadinejad in his pursuit of nuclear weapons, his behavior leading up to the embassy takeover provides a chilling example of his reckless disdain for international coalitions. If he was unafraid to take on the two most powerful nations in the world and their allies, how likely is it that something as soft and ineffective as sanctions will daunt him?
Fortunately, there are two things that may prevent a nuclear Iran or a military strike on Iran.
First, Ahmadinejad owes his position to the clerical establishment. Ayatollah Khameini may not exactly be a child of the Enlightenment, but his lasting control over the country. If he feels threatened by Ahmadinejad’s militant swaggering, he could remove him without too much trouble. Already Khameinei’s media organs have been expressing displeasure with the belligerent president.
Second, Ahmadinejad’s unthinking aggression can be used against him. Just as he felt no compunction to preserve a potential ally, the Soviet Union, Ahmadinejad may anger supporters in Iran or abroad with his careless bluster. If the Iranian regime lost support from like-minded groups, like al-Qaeda or Kim Jong Il’s government, Ahmadinejad would be isolated and easier to influence.
If either of these factors becomes significant, Ahmadinejad’s nuclear ambitions can be neutralized. If that doesn’t happen, though, the president’s past suggests that no earthly power can dissuade him from achieving his goals.
In an exclusive interview Ali Larijani -chief Iranian negotiator- told UK’s channel 4 news that there is no need for a trial for the 15 British hostages and they will be released through bilateral agreements. After excessive diplomatic negotiations with their allies, it seems British government has been successful in putting pressure on Iranians to end this propaganda.
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PS We need however, to take Larijani’s interview with a grain of salt as Ahmadinejad is going to have a press conference on this issue very soon, so he might change his mind and put these soldiers on trial. When it comes to Ahmadinejad you never know!!
If the Mullah’s bullying, intimidation and blackmail are this severe when they do not have nuclear weapons, how will they behave when they do have them? Will their actions become more or less aggressive? The answer is obvious, it will get much much worse. What will they do next? Perhaps try to seize a capital warship? Will we in the West just continue to talk at that point, or will we finally offer resistance?