Tehran Hangman's Belligerent Insecurity
by Kamal Hasani
As the 31st anniversary of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, on February 11, 2010, approaches, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has increased his belligerent and provocative rhetoric. The literal hangman of Tehran has declared that America and the West -- which he now designates, in the manner of the radical left, as "the capitalist powers" -- will suffer a significant defeat on that date. Western commentators naturally interpret this exaggerated idiom as a meaningful portent of global violence.
The real target of Ahmadinejad, who rules at the pleasure of clerical controller Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is not outside the country, but within its borders. Ahmadinejad's threats are directed against the massive and growing reform effort known as the Green Movement. The Green opposition has called a major protest demonstration for February 11. The rulers mean to answer the protest with violence, and the menacing language employed by the state is backed by force. The Iranian authorities have imposed the death penalty on demonstrators and called for more such sentences.
Ahmadinejad the executioner betrays his insecurity by his abusive vocabulary. But at the same time, he exposes the precariousness of his and his clique's hold on power by claiming he will strike a deal with the West over processing of uranium. The bloodthirsty tyrants have no choice but to attempt conciliation with the same foreign states they accuse of inspiring their opposition.
The West and the Arab states worry that Ahmadinejad and Khamenei have another strategy afoot, seeking domination of the Gulf region. Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates have purchased Patriot missiles from the U.S., and American naval vessels with missile capacity will patrol the waters of the Gulf. To some, these actions appear to aggravate the confrontation between Iran and its neighbors. But the unresponsive, naïve, and foolish reactions to this development, by Ahmadinejad and his ally, parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, support the concerns of the Arab countries. Larijani declares that any country contemplating ground, sea, or air actions against Iran will have to take responsibility for severe consequences.
Speaking in Kuwait on February 2, Larijani dismissed American military activities as a "puppet show" and "trickery," repeating his use of this contemptuous manner in commenting on the Western discourse over nuclear enrichment, which he labeled as "deception."
But the Iranian misrulers hope to impose their own deception on the world. They should fail in this: just as the protestors against the regime see their enemy at home, rather than abroad, Ahmadinejad and Khamenei know that the real challenge to them comes from among their own subjects, not any foreign capitals. The hangmen rant about war to divert the people from the cause of political change. They demand obedience in the name of patriotism, portraying the Green Movement as traitors worthy of death. They accuse the U.S.-armed Arab states of following on the path of Saddam in his war against Iran. Ahmadinejad and Khamenei have provided credibility for fear of Iran by their lack of rationality and wisdom on addressing the Green protests.
The U.S., for its part, must deal with the Wahhabi terror offensive in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, without needlessly enriching the corrupt Arab states. America must find a way to support the reform alternative in Iran without submitting to a new form of blackmail, whether in the form of a demand for arming of the Arab Gulf countries or of false promises of cooperation by Iran on nuclear issues.