Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ahmadinejad Better for Israel than Bush?

OVER his first four-year term as president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has proved to be far better for Israel than even George Bush.

This may seem paradoxical, given the Iranian leader’s shrill anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic rhetoric. But consider this opinion expressed by Simon Tisdall in a recent issue of the Guardian:
‘Israel’s reaction to the [Iranian] turmoil is a good indicator of how much harder US-led attempts to talk calmly and do business with Iran have suddenly become. ‘It is a regime whose real nature has been unmasked,’ said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He has argued all along that Iran’s hardliners are beyond reason and that Obama’s diplomatic opening was misguided.

‘Through their aggressive actions and rhetoric in the past week, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have gone a long way to making Netanyahu’s case for him. Speaking on American television, the Israeli prime minister didn’t quite say ‘I told you so’. He didn’t have to.’

As Iran’s friends and well-wishers watch the appalling events unfolding on the streets of Tehran, the country’s rigid hardliners seem to be preparing to take on the world, apart from crushing the domestic opposition. By predictably blaming the western media for the massive unrest in their own country, the Iranian government has shown once again how out of touch it is with its own people. Above all, the clerics in Tehran and Qom are blind to the crisis of legitimacy that is haunting the regime due to the widespread belief that the recent election was massively rigged.

I visited Iran several times as a student and travelled extensively around the country in the Shah’s days, and can attest to the repressive nature of his regime. But the fact is that when it came to crushing the pro-Khomeini protesters in 1979, he knew he could not endlessly kill and imprison his opponents. This was not because of any innate softness, but due to the western support he was reliant on. There was a line he could not cross in his crackdown without alienating Washington. The Revolutionary Guard and the Basij are not constrained by any such considerations.

Read it all here.

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