Ahmadinejad Re-elected: Israel and Obama’s Iran Puzzle

The election victory of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is likely to complicate US President Barack Obama’s new approach to his country’s conflict with Iran. The reason behind the foreseen obstacle is neither the US nor Iran’s refusal to engage in future dialogue but rather Israel’s insistence on a hard-line approach to the problem.

Iran’s presidential elections on June 12 were positioned to represent another fight between Middle Eastern ‘moderates’ vs. ‘extremists’. That depiction, which conveniently divided the Middle East — according to the prevailing US foreign policy discourse — to pro-American and anti-American camps was hardly as clear in the Iranian case as it was in Palestine and most recently in Lebanon.

Ahmadinejad’s main rival, Mir Hussein Moussavi served as Iran’s Prime Minister for 8-years (between 1981-1989) during one of Iran’s most challenging times, its war with Iraq. He was hardly seen as a ‘moderate’ then. More, Moussavi was equally adamant in his country’s right to produce atomic energy for peaceful means. As far as US interests in the region are concerned, both Ahmadinejad and Moussavi are interested in dialogue with the US, and are unlikely to alter their country’s attitudes towards the occupation of Iraq, their support of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Palestine. Neither is ready, willing or, frankly, capable of removing Iran from the regional power play at work in the Middle East, considering that Iranian policies are shaped by other internal forces beside the president of the country.

This is not to suggest that both leaders are one and the same. For the average Iranian, statements made by Ahmadinejad and Moussavi during Iran’s lively election campaigns did indeed promise major changes in their lives, daily struggles and future. But yet again, the two men were caricatured to present two convenient personalities to the outside world, a raging nuclear-obsessed man, hell-bent on ‘wiping Israel off the map”, and a soft-spoken, learned ‘moderate’ ready to ‘engage’ the West and redeem the sins of his predecessor.

Unfortunately for the Obama administration, the first negative image — tainted as such by mainstream media, and years of image manipulation by forces dedicated to the interest of Israel – won. The election outcome in Iran presents the young Obama with a major challenge: if he carries on with his diplomatic approach and soft overtures towards Iran, ruled by a supposed Holocaust-denier, he will certainly be seen as a failed president, who dared to perceive Israel’s interests in the region as secondary; on the other hand, Obama cannot depart from his country’s new approach towards Iran, a key player in shaping the contending forces in the entire region.

In some way, Ahmadinejad’s victory was the best news for Israel. Now, Tel Aviv will continue to pressure Obama to ‘act’ against Iran, for the latter, under its current president is an ‘existential threat’ to Israel, a claim that few in Washington question. “It is not like we rooted for Ahmadinejad,” an Israeli official told the New York Times on the condition of anonymity a day after it was clear that Ahmadinejad won another term in office.

But considering Israel’s immediate attempt to capitalize on the outcome of the elections makes one wonder if the defeat of Iran’s ‘moderate’ camp was not a best-case scenario for Israel. Iran will continue to be presented as the obstacle in future peace in the Middle East, allowing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to avoid any accountability as far as the ‘peace process’ is concerned. In fact, with an ‘existential threat’ not too far away, few in Washington would dare challenge Israel’s settlement policies in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, or its deadly siege on Gaza, or in fact its confrontational approach to Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon, the latter seen as an ‘Iranian-backed militia.’

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom was one of the first top officials in Israel to exploit the moment on June 13. The results of Iran’s elections, he said, “blow up in the faces of those who thought Iran was built for a genuine dialogue with the free world on stopping its nuclear program.” Ostensibly, Shalom’s message was directed at a small audience in Tel Aviv, but his true target audience, was in fact Obama himself.

Obama’s overtures towards Iran were not necessarily an indication of a fundamental shift in US foreign policy, but a realistic recognition of Iran’s growing influence in the region, and the US’ desperate and failing fight in Iraq. It was Obama’s pragmatism, not a moral-shift in US foreign policy that compelled such statements as that made on June 2 in a BBC interview: “What I do believe is that Iran has legitimate energy concerns, legitimate aspirations. On the other hand, the international community has a very real interest in preventing a nuclear arms race in the region.”

For Israel, however, Obama’s rhetoric is a deviation from the past US hard-line approach towards Iran. What Israel wants to keep alive is a discussion of war as a viable option to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions and to eliminate a major military rival in the Middle East.

Senior fellow at the pro-Israeli American Enterprise Institute, John R. Bolton expressed the war-mongering mantra of the pro-Israel crowd in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled: “What if Israel Strikes Iran?”: “Many argue that Israeli military action will cause Iranians to rally in support of the mullahs’ regime and plunge the region into political chaos. To the contrary, a strike accompanied by effective public diplomacy could well turn Iran’s diverse population against an oppressive regime.”

Ahmadinejad’s victory will serve as further proof that diplomacy with Iran is not an option, from the point of view of Israel and its supporters in the US. Whether Obama will proceed with his positive rhetoric towards Iran is to be seen. Failure to do so, however, will further undermine his country’s interests in the Middle East, and will prolong the cold war atmosphere of animosity, espoused by a clique of neoconservative hard-liners throughout the Bush administration of past years.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons (Clarity Press). Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs, Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). Read other articles by Ramzy, or visit Ramzy's website.

14 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. brian said on June 24th, 2009 at 3:38am #

    ‘Ahmadinejad’s victory will serve as further proof that diplomacy with Iran is not an option, from the point of view of Israel and its supporters in the US.’

    proof to whom? and since when has the US followed the path of diplomacy?

    ‘In some way, Ahmadinejad’s victory was the best news for Israel. ‘

    is this the same irael that invaded Lebanon and gaza with complete impunity?

  2. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 24th, 2009 at 4:19am #

    Once again we see the real rogue state, the country that kills hundreds of children with impunity, when not starving them with a vicious siege or driving them mad with nightly supersonic overflights (acts of sheer racist sadism)and which then histrionically demands the world’s admiration, setting out to engineer another massacre on the scale of Iraq. The media, controlled as every sentient being knows, either by Judaic Zionists or their closely collaborating stooges, is acting in precisely the same fashion as with ‘Saddam’s WMD’. That is by spreading utterly undifferentiated propaganda, absent any hard evidence, relying as ever on nothing more than the revealed truth of arrogant assertion. All opinion to the contrary, abundant, cogent and convincing on the net, is ruthlessly censored, once again as in 2002 vis-a-vis Iraq.
    In the last few days as the ‘colour revolution’, the re-run of 1953, began to flag, despite the faked death scenes reminiscent of Ukraine and the Orange obscenity, the whips have obviously been cracking. Here in Australia both the Murdoch sewer and the ‘national broadcaster’ the ABC, where pro-Israel ardour is de rigeur, the intensity of the propaganda has reached a fever pitch. The usual loathsome, condescending, arrogance of the various varicose specimens of approved Rightwing groupthink has been cranked up a notch. It is reminiscent of September 2002, when the irrevocable decision to attack Iraq had been taken, and the Rightwing media and the puppet regimes in the UK and Australia noticeably increased the ferocity of their lies and disinformation.
    The only possible conclusion that one can draw from these developments, and the connected economic ‘reforms’ that hand the US over to its bankster masters grouped about that nest of Gentiles, the Federal Reserve, is that Obama has been chosen as the deceiving figure-head for the great contest to re-assert US/Israeli global hegemony. If Iran is attacked so blatantly, with recourse to cyber attacks, direct subversion, funded to the tune of $400 million (at least) according to Seymour Hersh et al, terrorist strikes, assassinations etc, and knowledge of the entire panoply of aggressive crimes can simply be suppressed by the ‘Free Press’,when will it be Russia, or China’s turn? Judging by US economic travail, not long I would say.

  3. bozh said on June 24th, 2009 at 7:32am #

    well, according to some observers, ‘jews’ have puppetized even US.
    according to another group of thinkers, it is the other way around.
    however it may be, US nuclear weapons seem to be, or most likely are, controled by US army.
    or are the ‘jews’ also controling [anywhere btwn 0-100%] cia, fbi, police, armed services, WH, and congress?

    it seems that only WH can order use of nukes as a first strike weapon. But there may be not enough ‘jewish’ zionists in the WH to take over this command as well.
    yes, there are in the WH also non-jewish zionists but may love america more than israel.
    i’d love to read more about all of this. tnx

  4. dan e said on June 24th, 2009 at 12:10pm #

    Bozh, Bozh. Oh dear. Well my friend, let me reach into my bag & haul out an obsolete US ghetto folksaying: “You got the right idea, but the wrong attitude”:) Which means the opposite of what it says literally; it was used to indicate that while the user was in sympathy with the addressee’s general sentiments, Addressee was too shaky about the facts to elicit wholehearted agreement.
    We have to be careful about using terms like “The Jews”. Sometimes the term is used as shorthand for something like “the organized Zionists who run the officially recognized “Jewish Community”, but such a usage is too loose and prone to misinterpretation to use in a public forum. I’ve heard/read the expression used by several anti-Zionist Jewish activists but only in a context where it would be understood it did not refer to everyone of Jewish background. Of course most of us know that the majority of leading US critics of Israel and of Zionism are themselves Jewish, but I don’t think we can assume that all DV readers know that?
    The zionist strategy is to paint all critics of Israel and of the US pro-Israel “Lobby” as anti-Semitic bigoted crackpots. But you know that so I’ll say no more.
    Re “nukes” & “the US Army”: this is too vague. I think you need to “bone up” on the “official” Chain of Command, be clear that the Army is part of the DOD which is officially run by the Secretary of Defense serving “at the pleasure of the President” after confirmation by the Senate. Officially the Sec of Defense is senior to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Etc etc. Once you are clear about the Official line of authority, you are in a position to start trying to discern the REAL, operative chain of command and lines of influence. To begin “White House-watching”, in the sense that the US Media used to boast of their skill at “Kremlin Watching”.
    With regard to the Middle East, Palestine, the invasion of Iraq & the push for a first-strike vs Iran: once you have read the key contributions to the case vs the pro-Israel lobby cum thought police cum system of political influence, you are in a position to agree or disagree, to support and go further — or to marshal arguments/facts indicating flaws in the anti-ZPC case as presented.
    I’ll avoid repeating names & titles I’ve recently posted elsewhere on DV, but if you want me to I’ll be glad to.
    However I think you’d enjoy reading — if you haven’t already — Lenni Brenner’s book “Zionism in the Age of the Dictators”. Disclaimer: I don’t share Lenni’s Trotskyism, but his historical research is superb.

  5. bozh said on June 24th, 2009 at 1:08pm #

    dan e, i am using the word “jew” to denote any person who has a connection to any judaist, yiddische sprache/culture, or judaism.
    to distinguish euros with judaic cult, or connection to it, from israelis or even judeans i put the word “jew” under single quotes.

    in any case, as of yet the nameless people, need a name but we don’t want them to also highjack the hebrew name after highjacking their language.
    they can have it, i don’t care. Perhaps calling these people “ashkenazim” might clarify the situation. tnx

  6. Shabnam said on June 24th, 2009 at 9:15pm #

    A violent “protest” has been directed against legitimate re- election of Ahmadinejad by agents of the West who are using election as a pretext to destabilize Iran to sit a US puppet Mosavi, representing the corrupt cleric businessman close to the State Department, Rafsanjani, is in fact has all signs of a COUP directed against Iranians who have participated in this elections and freely have chosen Ahmadinejad and not the puppet of Zionists and imperialists war criminals.

    The traitors and agents of Zionism/imperialism are trying to paint Khamamenie as another “MOLLA OMAR” like in Afghanistan by slogan such as “down with dictator” so they can bring Iran under control through violence and chaos creating another killing field similar to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan with the help of Zionist 5th column in IRAN to place US puppet, Mosavi who has been absent from Iranian politics, at least, for the last 20 years.
    The provocateurs in this video clearly are equipped with WEAPON, pieces of stone where have been cut in suitable sizes and sharp edges fit to KILL. Many provocateurs are carrying big pack backs and large hand backs filled with stones to throw at their targets, whatever it might be, to create injuries and chaos. This video shows provocateurs are taking stones out of few white canvas bags where are placed in the street one by one and throw these stone at their targets.
    In additon, A monarchist in Los Angeles in an interview told that the monarchist have send more than 10,000 pen which in fact are CAMERA to documents the riot in Iran. SHAME ON YOU ALL.


  7. Danny Ray said on June 25th, 2009 at 4:32am #

    Shabnam, Do you really believe half the bull shit you say here?

  8. Shabnam said on June 25th, 2009 at 9:30am #

    The burden of prove is with the Zionist agents who say Iranian elections was ‘fraud.’ Who did order Obama, the Zionist puppet, to postpone a dialogue between Iran and the US until the Iranian election is over? The answer is Israel. Who has recently been moved to the WH to direct events in Iran? The answer is a rabid Zionist by the name of Dennis Ross, who has repeatedly put Israel’s interest ahead of American’s interest, has been transferred on to Obama’s lap in the WH to whisper into his ear how to demonize and direct the protest and then tell the world that we are just “watching.” Who has recently strengthened and rebuilt its website to support an active role in spreading propaganda against Iran through lies and deception? The answer is PaykeIran website, close to Mujahedeen Khalq (MEK), a puppet and spy of Israel where has recently, a week before the election, enhanced its website to provide majority of videos and films, some are totally FAKE, to influence public opinion in the West to benefit US and Israel. Who has sent more than 10,000 CAMERAS in the shape of a pen to Iran? The answer is the Monarchists. These Cameras are used to ‘document’ the predicted riot after the Iranian elections to help the Zionist enablers such as, Payman Akhavan an agent of both US and Canadian government, a Bahia law professor at McGill University who immigrated at the age of eight to Canada, Roya Kakkakian , an Iranian Zionist coming from Jewish background and her Husband, Ramin Ahmadi, an assistant clinical professor at Yale University where all board members of “Iran Human Rights Documentation Center” to build “documents” against Iranians who are not puppets but leave corrupted businessman clerics such as Rafsanjani alone since he is close to the West and promoter of MARKET ECONOMY American style.

    “Iran Human Rights Documentation Center” located in New Haven where cooperates with “rights and democracy” in Canada, a twin sister of NED in the US.
    The Non-violence center let by Peter Ackerman, a Zionist billionaire like George Soros is in the business of fomenting ‘velvet revolution’ to install a US/Israel puppet like in Georgia, Ukraine, and attempted in Venezuela but failed and now is duplicating in Iran.
    Payman Akhavan has close contact and cooperation with SHIREEN EBADI, a puppet of Western power who received a ‘NOBEL PEACE PRIZE’ to create a ‘voice’ for the Western power in Iran. The following picture shows Payam Ekhavan standing between Shireen Ebadi and her daughter who has recently converted, reported, to Baha’ism.


    Negar Azimi has published an article on these traitors in NYT “Hard Realities of Soft Power,” on June 24,2007 who reveals the nature of
    their work. Emad Baghi a “human write” activist said:

    “[T]here is a deep awareness of more recent U.S. efforts to destabilize the Islamic government. As Martin Indyk, an assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs during the Clinton administration, recently told me: “Don’t forget 1996, when Newt Gingrich proposed an $18 million program, a covert program to overthrow the regime. From then the Iranians were convinced we were coming for them.”
    Emad Baghi an “human write” activist said:

    “All of a sudden, my normal human rights work becomes political. I have one question: Why do I have to suffer when this money is going to pay for someone else’s salary in Washington?”
    Negar Azimi continues:
    [Other institutions have invested the money in Web zines, training sessions, workshops and exchanges. But even such mild activities can bring risks, as can be seen in the case of Ramin Ahmadi.
    A compact man, peripatetic and cordial, Ahmadi is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at Yale Medical School, founder of the Griffin Center for Health and Human Rights and a frequent commentator on Iranian affairs. Having left Iran at the age of 17 — “through the hills,” as he often recounts — he has devoted himself to bringing about his particular vision of a democratic Iran. When in his excited presence, you get the impression that Iran is on the verge of a revolution, that disenfranchisement, isolation and desperation have pushed people to the edge. “We are where Poland was in 1981 or 1982,” Ahmadi told me.
    Ahmadi and a group of partners were among the earlier recipients of State Department democracy financing, securing initial grants of $1.6 million in 2004 to start the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center.
    Two years later, at least two persons have been arrested in connection with attending the Dubai workshops. To this day, Ahmadi’s name continues to come up in interrogations.
    The nonviolent conflict center, for its part, is no longer running workshops with Iranians. “We don’t want people to get arrested,” Jack DuVall, the organization’s president, told me. Reza Afshari, the professor who had been so worried by the Dubai project, has resigned from the documentation center’s board, and the New Haven center has gone through three successive executive directors. But Ahmadi has carried on. He held another workshop recently following which at least three people were imprisoned in connection with their attendance, though one maintains that he was never there in the first place. Ahmadi, for his part, maintains that all of his workshops are carried out with private funds. (The State Department declined to comment on Ahmadi’s work.) “The question is not whether you will interfere, it is how will you interfere,” he told me. “They need the help now . . . but they can’t possibly publicly say it. They have to say, Leave us alone. You have to not listen.”]

  9. Shabnam said on June 25th, 2009 at 1:41pm #

    Payam Akhavan along with two other Iranians, Ramin Ahmadi and Roya Hakakian opened the Iranian Human Rights Documentation Center. Financed through a two-year, $ 1 million grant from the State Department’s Human Rights and Democracy Fund.

  10. brian said on June 26th, 2009 at 1:53am #

    Page 189 of Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, we find Kissinger, in 1989 refering to Tianamnen saying the following:

    ‘No govt in the world would have tolerated having thr main square of its capital occupied for 8 weeks by tens of thousands of demonstrators…A crakdown was therefore inevitable’

    Got it?

  11. brian said on June 26th, 2009 at 1:54am #

    Good work Shabnam….you are more correct than your critics.

  12. Shabnam said on June 26th, 2009 at 7:51pm #

    Brian: Thank you for your attention. I hope Obama lovers wake up and see that ‘young’ Obama is directed by the interest group where their interest is not identical to Americans’ interest.

    Mr. Ramzy Baroud: Thank you for your article which reveals some of the underlying tension, but I do not agree with the following line:
    [In some way, Ahmadinejad’s victory was the best news for Israel.]

    A glance at history of the Zionism for the past 60 years shows that Israel always has create a pretext to build violence and chaos to expand her and territory and domain of influence because Israel not only wants to be the sole regional power but to build upon it and realize its main goal, world domination.
    Israel in fact did not want Ahmadinejad to be elected because it was Ahmadinejad who made the Iran-US negotiation possible without precondition, thus, the Zionists were frighten to see less tension between two countries since Israel works better when there is chaos and violence. Zionists spread rumors that Ahmadinejad is Israel’s bets choice. In fact they were frightened to see him back. They targeted the ‘improved relations’ itself and design a plan ahead of the time to be carried out against Ahmadinejad re-election bit and to make him illegitimate for the future negotiation. The Zionists through Dennis Ross ordered Obama to postpone any contact with the ‘hardliner’, a phony title, and started to negotiate secretly with some elements in the Iranian ruling elite to make Ahmadinejad unfit for further negotiation. After the election of Obama, we witness cooperation of ‘progressive’ and the closet Zionists under the ‘left’ umbrella more than any other time with the state department’s policy in the recent history. Zmag had the lead in demonization of Ahmadinejad and praise for Mousavi as a victim of ‘stolen elections.’ Review of articles written by Zunes, Janet Afari and others reveals that Israel’s interest was their motivation.

  13. Dennis Wilen said on December 11th, 2009 at 4:27am #

    I saw that interview on the WWW where the Iranian exile claimed to have sent 1000 pen-sized camera to people inside but now when I want it again I can’t find it anywhere.


  14. Dennis Wilen said on December 11th, 2009 at 4:31am #

    Nevermind: found it: