9/11 demonstrated that ignoring the terror breading dysfunctional state of governance in the Middle East is no longer an option. As a symbol of successful defiance, Saddam stood in the way of major regional transformation. Hence, the eviction of Saddam was a necessary, if not sufficient, condition to a new democratizing Middle East. With Saddam gone, the current powers are bound to realize that resistance is futile and cut the best deal they can with the new emerging forces. That was the strategy behind the War in Iraq.
The coalition difficulties may have improved the deal but the mass participation in the Iraqi elections redressed the balance. Kaddafi’s turn around, Arafat’s death, the Egyptian and Saudi “elections” and the Lebanese Cedar revolution created a mutually reinforcing dynamic in that direction. It is that dynamic that Ahmadinejad seeks to block by turning adherence to the failed status quo into an act of heroic defiance and demonstrating that the international community remains the divided corrupt paper tiger Saddam had proved it to be for many years. The fiery Iranian believes that only such a demonstration would prevent allies like Syria and armed rejectionists such as Hizbullah and Hamas from jumping ship and leaving Iran twisting alone in the reformist winds.
Iran could have chosen a more prudent or passive course in the hope that events and conflict of interests within the international community would derail the ME reform project. But Ahmadinejad and his allies apparently concluded that time was not on their side and his fellow Iranians seem to agree. Emad Afrough, the head of Majlis Cultural Commission, explains:
I personally accept foreign policy of Ahmadinejad and believe that his stances and measures changed foreign policy into an active one rather than passive one.
There are certain individuals who are optimistically thinking that interests of Europe and the US are separate from each other, while they share commonalties in their general interests and their short-term economic differences should not deceive us.
Tehran’s interim Friday prayer leader, Hojattoleslam Seyed Ahmad Khatami follows suit:
The concepts of 'Islam' and 'Republicanism' are interconnected. (...) The world arrogant powers intend to replace the regional regimes by those that can be manipulated by themselves without making any exception about those which have so far been subject to them. Recent developments in Syria and Lebanon are part of the enemies' plan to this end. They are attempting to topple the forerunners involved in campaign with the Zionist regime.
Former president and failed presidential candidate Rafsanjani responded to an invitation to visit Syria with an open letter in which he wrote:
Under the current sensitive historical juncture when the enemies are exerting pressure under lame excuses on independent Islamic states particularly the two strategic countries of the Middle East as two real supporters of the Palestinian nation, exchange of views between the two sides' officials on the issues relevant to the region and world of Islam is inevitable.
I am quite confident that you as a competent successor to late Hafez al-Assad as the president of Syria will successfully leave behind this sensitive juncture and will take steps in line with the national interests of your country and Muslims.
Ahmadinejad’s strategy seems to be working at least as far as the Arab world is concerned. Assad has refused to be questioned by UN appointed investigators and a Palestinian candidate by the name of Hammad that Hamas (which has an office in Tehran also issuing uncompromising statements is committed to continued anti-Israeli violence:
Hamas will continue develop its armed wings by recruiting more members and making more rockets and bombs. . . . Our aim after the elections is to reinforce the Islamic culture and spread it as well as our social and political views.
”US Backtracks Earlier Threats” is the headline describing Secretary Rice’s announcement that no one is looking for immediate UN sanctions against Iran. Just as good was the accompanying news that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not yet even “made any decision to hold an emergency meeting to consider Iran's nuclear program.“ Preacher Khattami, indeed, has good reasons to tell his followers that all the Western noise “is just a psychological war.” If the Iranians seem to coalesce around their reckless president, it is because he seems to be winning.
He is winning because no one threatened to do anything which would affect the life of the Iranian ruling class. The life of those Iranians will not be affected by the bombing of Bushir or other sites dedicated to nuclear development. It would be affected by a threat to deny visas to Iranians (including family members) connected in any shape or form to the government who wish to travel or do business abroad. Just tell Iranian parents and children that the West is about to be close to them and note the response. Ahmadinejad was already asked about the vulnerability of Iranian foreign bank accounts. Unfortunately, this morning's issue of the Financial Timesdraws comfort from the fact that Iran will appoint more experienced ambassadors to London, Paris and Berlin.
Still, all is not lost because, interestingly, Putin may turn out to be the real thorn in the Iranian side. He is holding up the completion of Bushir, reports Rapporteur of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Kazem Jalali. The U.S., EU and Russia are united in wishing to prevent a nuclear Iran, he said. Their disagreement is limited to “the ceiling of their demands.” In other words, Putin may be thrilled to support Ahmadinejad’s efforts to block the democratization of the Middle East but he is not reckless enough to wish to see a nuclear Iran on his border especially at a time when he is fighting his own war with Islamism. So, he quietly signals to Ahmadinejad that he better accept the Russian ceiling and agree to refer the Iranian nuclear issue to the UN. But will Ahmadinejad do what Saddam has failed to do and accept a compromise? The immediate and middle range future of the Middle East depends on the answer.
Also see, IRNA LIES TO ITS PEOPLE