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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Don't expect pragmatism from Iran

Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, who founded Hezbullah on Iran's behalf, was harassed during a recent trip to Damascus. That says a lot about what's going on in Iran today, and who is likely to control that country for the foreseeable future.
The treatment of Mohtashamipour provides the West with a strong indication of the roots of Iran's current erratic behavior. When the Iranian founder of Hezbollah is treated this way because he disagrees with Ahmadinejad and Khamenei, others who stand in their way have much more to worry about.

One factor that helped Khamenei deal with the West throughout the years was the presence of well educated, pragmatic reformists in key positions. Even after Ahmadinejad won his first term, people like former nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati and moderate conservatives such as Ali Larijani had a say in the formulation of policy presented to the Supreme Leader.

But Larijani resigned as Iran's top nuclear negotiator because he could no longer stomach working with Ahmadinejad. And after Ahmadinejad's controversial reelection, people like Velayati and Rowhani were sidelined. Those who surround Khamenei these days are almost exclusively all neo-conservatives. Despite their lack of experience, they have another important quality: loyalty. Iran's Supreme Leader has one goal in mind, and that's to build a bomb -- be it a physical device or the "breakout capacity" to build one on demand. Until then, he has no time, patience or sympathy for those who may question him, no matter how knowledgeable or skilled they may be. This is why he is allowing President Ahmadinejad, his loyalist soldier, and his foreign policy-ignorant allies to spearhead important policy bodies such as the Supreme National Security Council.

And for those who want to see a pragmatic Iran, this will likely be the case for the foreseeable future.
Anyone who believes that Iran will voluntarily give up its quest for nuclear weapons is fooling themselves. The treatment of Mohtashamipour proves that.


At 5:58 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Even Iran's Islamist official opposition supports Iran getting a nuclear bomb. The prospect of Iran giving up that national objective is zero. Don't look for moderation on the nuclear issue from Tehran any time soon.


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