T Nation

Iran's President


Demonstrating lately how not to win friends and influence people -- which, one would think, he would want to do given the scrutiny of his country's nuclear program.


Iran leader's remarks draw ire from Saudis


Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran - Saudis fumed Friday that Iran's hard-line president marred a summit dedicated to showing Islam's moderate face by calling for Israel to be moved to Europe, and the chief U.N. nuclear inspector said he was losing patience with the Tehran regime.

Even some of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's conservative allies in Iran were growing disillusioned, fearing he has hurt the country with his wild rhetoric. Iranian moderates also called on the ruling clerics to reel him in.

"The president has to choose his words carefully. He can convey his message to the world in better language tone," Hamid Reza Taraqi, a leader of a hard-line party, the Islamic Coalition Society, told The Associated Press.

The United States, Israel, Europe and Iranian ally Russia condemned Ahmadinejad over his remarks about Israel, made Thursday on the sidelines of the Mecca, Saudi Arabia, summit of more than 50 Islamic nations intending to show a Muslim front against terrorism.

Hours before the participants issued the summit's centerpiece - the Mecca Declaration, promising to stamp out extremist thought - Ahmadinejad spoke at a press conference, casting doubt on whether the Holocaust took place and suggesting Europe give land for a Jewish state if it felt guilty about it.

"Let's give some land to the Zionists in Europe or in Germany or Austria," he said. "They faced injustice in Europe, so why do the repercussions fall on the Palestinians?"

Privately, Saudi officials were furious Friday. Three senior Saudi officials who spoke to The Associated Press complained that the comments completely contradicted and diverted attention from the message of tolerance the summit was trying to project.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the kingdom's often stormy ties with Tehran.

Saudi newspapers ran excerpts of Ahmadinejad's news conference where he praised the summit - but dropped the references to Israel. The comments also did not appear in Iranian newspapers, though the state news agency reported them at the time.

One Saudi official, visibly angry, compared Ahmadinejad to Saddam Hussein and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, whose renegade statements frequently infuriated other Arab leaders.

"The Iranian president seems to have lost his direction," said Gilan al-Ghamidi, a prominent commentator in Saudi media. "Iran should be logical if it wants to receive the support of the world. The president didn't score any points. He lost points."

The flap comes at a sensitive time for Iran. The United States accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons and is pressing to have it referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions over the program.

Iran and Europe have agreed to resume negotiations aimed at ensuring the program cannot develop nuclear weapons, though no date has been set. But Iran, which insists its program is for generating electricity, repeatedly has rejected a European compromise: to move Iran's uranium enrichment to Russia to ensure nothing is diverted toward weapons production.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Friday the world was losing patience with Iran in the drawn-out negotiations.

"They are inching forward and I'm asking them to leap forward," said ElBaradei, who shares this year's Nobel Peace Prize with the agency.

He said he hopes outstanding nuclear issues with Iran will be clarified by the time he presents his next report in March because "the international community is losing patience with the nature of that program."

"The ball is in Iran's court. It is up to Iran to show the kind of transparency they need to show," ElBaradei told reporters in Oslo, Norway.

The flare-up further strains Ahmadinejad's ties with conservatives, who already have complained that he fails to work with them on domestic issues.

The parliament, which is dominated by supporters of Iran's hard-line clerical regime, has given the president an unprecedented slap already, rejecting three of his candidates for the key post of oil minister because he did not consult with lawmakers and the candidates were unqualified.

Conservatives also were angered in October when Ahmadinejad called Israel a "disgraceful blot" that should be "wiped off the map," raising a similar international outcry that isolated Tehran.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has ultimate say in all issues, backed Ahmadinejad over his calls for Israel's elimination. He has not commented on Thursday's remarks.

The ultraconservative Ahmadinejad emerged from the hard-line establishment, serving as a commander in the elite Revolutionary Guards.

But in some ways, he is an outsider among conservatives, emerging as a surprise victor in June elections in which most of the hard-line leadership backed another candidate.

He is not a cleric and campaigned on a platform of helping Iran's poor and a return to the values of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Since taking office, he has pushed hardcore rhetoric recalling the revolution's leader, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and moved to purge moderates from government ministries.

Moderates were calling Friday for the ruling clerics to act.

"The ruling establishment should do something about this man," prominent analyst Davoud Hermidas Bavand said. "Ahmadinejad speaks as if he is spokesman of a hard-line vigilante group. His words don't fit with those of a responsible president."

Associated Press reporters Salah Nasrawi in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and Doug Mellgren in Oslo, Norway, contributed to this report.


If I recall, Khatami was considered largely impotent as president. Does this Iranian president have any real power? Doesn't the real power in Iran rest with the mullans?


Its good to know that the Irani leader isn't regarded well by other arabs.


The Iranian president is largely a figurehead, or puppet, the mullahs have absolute authority.
As far as the other islamo-totalitarian regimes (saudi arabia, et al) condeming him, I think they're just covering their own asses with us.
Ahmadinejad is simply saying what they are all thinking, every arab nation in the middle east seeks the destruction of Israel, some more actively than others.

None of them have gotten over what they refer to as the "catastrophe" in '48 when Israel kicked all their asses, and again in '67, and '73.
Of course he had to bring up the arab induced "plight" of the misplaced jordanians and egyptians they refer to as palestinians.
But, I could go on and on about this, be interested in hearing what other people think though.


Well, there are rumblings that the Israelis might attack the Iranian nuclear facilities, much as they did to the Iraqi facilities back in the 80s. We'll see what happens.


The Sunday Times December 11, 2005

Israel readies forces for strike on nuclear Iran
Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv, and Sarah Baxter, Washington

ISRAEL?S armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed.
The order came after Israeli intelligence warned the government that Iran was operating enrichment facilities, believed to be small and concealed in civilian locations.

Iran?s stand-off with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over nuclear inspections and aggressive rhetoric from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, who said last week that Israel should be moved to Europe, are causing mounting concern.

The crisis is set to come to a head in early March, when Mohamed El-Baradei, the head of the IAEA, will present his next report on Iran. El-Baradei, who received the Nobel peace prize yesterday, warned that the world was ?losing patience? with Iran.

A senior White House source said the threat of a nuclear Iran was moving to the top of the international agenda and the issue now was: ?What next?? That question would have to be answered in the next few months, he said.

Defence sources in Israel believe the end of March to be the ?point of no return? after which Iran will have the technical expertise to enrich uranium in sufficient quantities to build a nuclear warhead in two to four years.

?Israel ? and not only Israel ? cannot accept a nuclear Iran,? Sharon warned recently. ?We have the ability to deal with this and we?re making all the necessary preparations to be ready for such a situation.?

The order to prepare for a possible attack went through the Israeli defence ministry to the chief of staff. Sources inside special forces command confirmed that ?G? readiness ? the highest stage ? for an operation was announced last week.

Gholamreza Aghazadeah, head of the Atomic Organisation of Iran, warned yesterday that his country would produce nuclear fuel. ?There is no doubt that we have to carry out uranium enrichment,? he said.

He promised it would not be done during forthcoming talks with European negotiators. But although Iran insists it wants only nuclear energy, Israeli intelligence has concluded it is deceiving the world and has no intention of giving up what it believes is its right to develop nuclear weapons.

A ?massive? Israeli intelligence operation has been underway since Iran was designated the ?top priority for 2005?, according to security sources.

Cross-border operations and signal intelligence from a base established by the Israelis in northern Iraq are said to have identified a number of Iranian uranium enrichment sites unknown to the the IAEA.

Since Israel destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981, ?it has been understood that the lesson is, don?t have one site, have 50 sites?, a White House source said.

If a military operation is approved, Israel will use air and ground forces against several nuclear targets in the hope of stalling Tehran?s nuclear programme for years, according to Israeli military sources.

It is believed Israel would call on its top special forces brigade, Unit 262 ? the equivalent of the SAS ? and the F-15I strategic 69 Squadron, which can strike Iran and return to Israel without refuelling.


"Its good to know that the Irani leader isn't regarded well by other arabs."

Iranians (Persians) ARE NOT Arabs, and historically there has been a lot of animosity between Arabs and Persians. BTW, prior to 1979 (Iranian Revolution) Israel and Iran were the closest of allies.


Wow, good to see there are still a few die-hards who don't even recognize the Palestinians as a people.


Good of you to point that out. Also a big reason why this idea that Iran is going to turn Shiite Iraq into a puppet is probably wrong.


Yeah, there are a few of us left.
I can direct you to a great summary of the entire refugee problem if you want.


I believe he bought the islamo-facist printing of that book, entitled "How to Piss People Off and Start Wars"


I thought that at least some of the Shiites in Iraq are ethnically Persian aren't they? Part of the reason for the clusterfuck there was how the British drew imaginary lines that they knew would encompass several warring ethnic/religious groups to more easily control them--so some fraction of the Shiites, particularly in the southeast, are probably Persians.

In any case, their ethnicity doesn't exactly matter. Obviously Hamas and Hizbollah have no problem working with Iran, despite their being ethnic Arabs, and Assad has more or less been kissing Iranian ass for a long time instead of Saudi ass like every other Arab regime in the region. So they have Arab friends despite the ethnic differences and so I wouldn't rule out them creating a Shiite enclave in Iraq (which they've essentially done in Gaza with Hamas and southern Lebannon with Hizbollah already).


It isn't really accurate to say Israel and Iran were the closest of allies. Iran had a US puppet regime running it which was wildly unpopular with the general population. Israel was buddy-buddy with the Iranian government, but they've never had any popularity among the Iranian people (or all those Iranian Jews wouldn't have fled or have been killed there after 1948).

And the antipathy between Persians and Jews goes back an awful long time--its mentioned in the Old Testament after all. So that hatred has been festering long before there was a modern Israel and has only been temporarily overcome by the CIA installing pro-Western regimes.


The who?


Not bad points, but the ethnicity does matter, and so does the war in the 80's (Saddam's war, I know, but still one that required mobilizing the nation). Additionally, there is the realization among a lot of Shiites that the Iranian theocracy has failed, that it's a sclerotic, moribund system that the vast majority of its people don't care for. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just think the fear of Iran making a Shiite-dominated Iraq a puppet are pretty overblown.