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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Tag Archives | Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

An Unlikely Peace: Iran’s Quest for Nuclear Weapons is Likely to Lead to War

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Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressing the Security Council.  Rick Bajornas/UN

“It is not in our hands to prevent the murder of workers…and families…but it is in our hands to fix a high price for our blood, so high that the Arab community and the Arab military forces will not be willing to pay it.” – Moshe Dayan, Warrior: the autobiography of Ariel Sharon

Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressing the Security Council. Rick Bajornas/UN

As Israel has faced the threat of Arab armies and Islamic terrorism throughout its history, it has struggled to maintain a strong deterrence in the Middle East, one that will prevent other countries in the region from continuing to attack and to kill Israeli citizens. One of today’s most important issues in foreign affairs is Iran’s quest to obtain nuclear weapons and how their journey towards nuclear dominance in the Middle East might bring America and Israel into the conflict.

In Israel this issue is arguably more pertinent than anywhere else. The fear of a second Holocaust at the hands of an unstable regime in Iran is feared by most every citizen in Israel and their government is doing everything in its power to prevent Iran from achieving that goal. From a country who has called Israel “a true cancer tumor on the region that should be cut off,” Israelis have every right to be afraid of Iran achieving their goal of nuclear weapons and Israel has every right to continue to defend against that threat.

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Profiting from Patience: Why Israel Should Not Act Unilaterally Against Iran

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Israeli military units conducting exercises. Photo: Ori Shifrin

“As Prime Minister, I will never gamble with the security of the State of Israel.” – Benjamin Netanyahu, in a speech to AIPAC, March 5, 2012

Israeli military units conducting exercises. Photo: Ori Shifrin

Even before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the stage at the 2012 AIPAC conference, the crowd of more than 13,000 participants knew what the topic of his speech would be: Iran. Speaking with passion unmatched by any of the other notable speakers, including US President Barack Obama and Israeli President Shimon Peres, PM Netanyahu used biblical quotes, touching personal stories, and unbridled rhetoric to ensure that those in attendance understood that Israel would no longer stand by as Iran developed a nuclear weapons program.

His speech made it clear that Israel was losing patience with the diplomatic approach that has been favored by President Obama, and that Israel was seriously considering unilateral military action. This threat, credible or not, would not create the stability that PM Netanyahu seeks for his country. On the contrary, unilateral military action by Israel could possibly be the worst course of action available. Iran’s search for nuclear weapons has created a regional and global political environment that is substantially more beneficial to Israel than ever before. Such an environment would no longer exist should Israel pursue pre-emptive military action.

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Why Iran will Compromise this Time

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the White House, July 6, 2010. Pete Souza/White House

As we inch closer to the crucial nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers, the so-called P5+1, the primordial question is whether this time will be different: Is Tehran willing to make necessary compromises – from greater nuclear transparency to more stringent restrictions on its enrichment activities - to reverse the economic siege that is bringing the country close to the edge? Is she going to use the talks as a delaying tactic or will she finally strike a mutually-acceptable deal with the West?

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the White House, July 6, 2010. Pete Souza/White House

From the perspective of the Iranian leadership, with sanctions beginning to squeeze the Iranian economy - atop intensifying threats of military invasion and a growing Western naval presence in the Persian Gulf - the nuclear impasse is worryingly morphing into a question of regime survival. Sure, the regime has significant resources – both financial and military – as its disposal to head-off growing international isolation, and pursue its nuclear program, but growing external pressure can affect the very foundation of Iran’s trillion-dollar industrializing economy. Moreover, growing economic uncertainty – compounding decades-long structural economic challenges - could also impact the country’s very social cohesion, amidst lingering discontent among certain quarters of the population.

This is precisely why this time could be different, and there are no shortages of diplomatic overtures on the part of Iran, signaling Tehran’s interest in resolving the crisis. If there is one thing that is consistent with the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is her undying instinct for self-preservation. Moreover, the Iranian regime is anything but monolithic: even within the upper echelons of the politico-military leadership, pragmatic forces have always sought to prevent any crisis or conflict, which would endanger the country’s territorial integrity. After all, the 1979 Iranian Revolution was nationalistic: its founding principles emphasized Iran’s territorial integrity and independence.

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Coming Up: A Tehran Communiqué?

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announcing new economic sanctions targeting Iran as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner listens on, at the State Department in Washington

Arguably, growing tensions over Iran’s nuclear impasse represent today’s greatest international security challenge.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announcing new economic sanctions targeting Iran as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner listens on, at the State Department in Washington

Current Western sanctions against Iran are biting hard, but they are also hurting both the Iranian population and global consumers. With rising concerns over a possible “supply shock” — as Iran struggles to sell its oil and alternative producers such as Saudi Arabia and Libya scramble over dwindling spare capacity — energy prices are inching closer to their staggering 2008 levels. While commodity markets are already feeling the shockwaves, global consumers are struggling to keep pace with rising energy costs.

Economists are seriously concerned that growing tensions in the Persian Gulf are undermining global recovery. In the event of a direct conflict, the world economy could slip into the abyss of a double-dip recession. The last thing the world needs is a major conflict at the heart of a democratizing region so vital to global economic stability. A U.S. or Israeli war with Iran would not only lead to a humanitarian tragedy but would put the entire Middle East on the precipice of conflagration — possibly dragging other great powers such as China and Russia into the picture.

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Why is Iran interested in Latin America?

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on a state visit to Ecuador.  Photo: Santiago Armas

In January of 2012, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad conducted a four nation tour of Latin America, with stops in Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Cuba and from the time that this trip became public, US government officials began asking “Why Latin America?”

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on a state visit to Ecuador. Photo: Santiago Armas

In February, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing on the “Tour of Tyrants” and during his testimony, Dr. Jose Azel of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami rhetorically asked the question “What allows the Iranian theocracy, so removed from Latin America by ethnicity, customs and values, to play an increasingly influential role in this hemisphere?” Perhaps the answer simply comes down to two factors: fear and opportunity. Fear that the United States will, at some point, see to the removal of the Iranian government. A fear that has existed since the Islamic Revolution and that has been made more acute since September 11 through both the Bush Doctrine and Iran’s inclusion in the 43rd President’s ‘Axis of Evil’.

That fear that has been solidified by the United States presence in the two neighboring states of Afghanistan and Iraq. The opportunity presented itself in the welcoming arms of Hugo Chavez. An opportunity that gave Iran, not just a friendly ally in the region, but a network of allies that would like nothing better than to oppose American interests. The opportunity to balance the US footprint in Middle East with an Iranian footprint in the western hemisphere.

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Moscow’s Dangerous Iran Policy

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Kremlin Photo
Kremlin Photo

Kremlin Photo

Russia relishes in its role as both the gate keeper to Iran and Tehran’s voice to the West. This bipolar Iran policy, however, is destined to backfire. The Kremlin perceives that its role as the principle interlocutor between Tehran and the P5+1 reaffirms in western and Chinese eyes Russia’s position as a global leader, while affording Moscow a key issue with which to leverage the West on matters of interest to the Kremlin.

While Russia has at times supported UN sanctions on Iran because of Tehran’s intransigence with its nuclear program, Moscow has done so timidly so as to not undermine ties with Iran or appear as if Russia is capitulating to western, and namely American, prerogatives. But by doing so, Moscow also buys Iran time to advance its nuclear program, makes the P5+1 look divided in the eyes of Tehran and the international community, and creates a moral hazard by appearing soft on states seeking to join the nuclear club.

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Understanding Iran’s Economic Jihad

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Tehran's Molavi Bazaar. kamshots/Flickr

In the absence of genuine democratic institutions, a set of common economic grievances is galvanizing the Arab Street against a diverse host of unaccountable regimes across the Arab world.

Tehran’s Molavi Bazaar. kamshots/Flickr

However, deep and structural economic problems also characterize much of the Middle East, including non-Arab Iran. Recognizing the depth and gravity of the country’s economic challenges, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamanei has declared 2011 as the year of “economic jihad.”

A more careful analysis of Iran’s economy reveals a mixed legacy of both crucial developmental gains and persistent macro-economic challenges. Given Iran’s vast hydrocarbon reserves, among the world’s biggest, and its burgeoning industrial-technological complex, one of the largest among emerging economies, the country still represents a potential economic powerhouse in Asia. But Iran has suffered from successive rounds of international sanctions that have prevented the country from fully exploiting its tremendous economic potential. The region’s general insecurity is also affecting prospects for large-scale investment in the country.

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