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Mr President Youve Got Mail

Iranian motorists ride their motorbikes past an anti-US mural in central Tehran, 08 May 2006. Photo courtesy of Atta Kenare and AFP.
by Claude Salhani
UPI International Editor
Washington (UPI) May 11, 2006
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter to President Bush is a bizarre mélange of history, morality and a cri-du-coeur for the American president to follow the path of Allah. It is also an unprecedented and rather bold step of writing to the U.S. president when the two countries have not had direct contact since Iranian students occupied the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979.

The letter is quite revealing of Ahmadinejad's character and state of mind. The correspondence touches on a number of relevant topics of interest to Middle East scholars, but alas does little, if anything, to address the prime area of concern -- and the one that can spark the next Middle East conflagration -- Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The only reference to Iran's nuclear program is made in passing and in questioning why "technological and scientific achievement reached in the Middle East regions is translated into and portrayed as a threat to the Zionist regime?"

Ahmadinejad writes that he has "been thinking how one can justify the undeniable contradictions that exist in the international arenas." Contradictions, he questions, "in the hopes that it might bring about an opportunity to redress them."

The Iranian president questions "how can one be a follower of Jesus Christ..., feel obliged to respect human rights, present liberalism as a civilization model, announce one's opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and WMDs, make 'War on Terror' his slogan and finally, work towards the establishment of a unified international community -- a community which Christ and the virtuous of the Earth will one day govern, but at the same time, have countries attacked; the lives, reputations and possessions of people destroyed and on the slight chance of ... criminals (hiding) in a village... destroy the entire village."

Ahmadinejad then goes on to give Bush a lesson in morality, pointing out that based on the "possibility of the existence of WMDs" a country is occupied, 100,000 people killed, and its infrastructure destroyed. He talks of the prisoners in Guantanamo "that have not been tried (and) have no legal representation."

Not that two wrongs ever make a right, but what about the prisoners wasting away in Tehran's Evin prison and other centers of detention in Iran? President Ahmadinejad says he fails "to understand how such actions correspond to the values outlined in the beginning of this letter," i.e. the teachings of Jesus Christ, human rights and liberal values.

The same question can also be asked of Iran's treatment of its political prisoners.

Hoping to win the support of the Arab and Muslim street, the Iranian president turns to the "phenomenon of Israel," alluding to "claims" that six million Jews had been killed. "Let us assume that these events are true," says Ahmadinejad, going on to ask "how that justifies the establishment of the state of Israel."

He then throws in a line of support for the people of Latin America, who "have the right to ask why their elected governments are being opposed and coup leaders supported," and follows with a quick mention of the "hardworking people of Africa."

Conjuring the past, Ahmadinejad reminds Bush of the "many questions and grievances" of the Iranian people, including the coup d'etat of 1953, "and opposition to the Islamic revolution." He brings up the issue of the shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane in July 1988, the freezing of Iranian assets and "increasing threats, anger and displeasure vis-à-vis the scientific and nuclear progress of the Iranian nation."

He refers to Sept. 11 as a "horrendous incident," stating that the "killing of innocents is deplorable and appalling in any part of the world."

Several pages are then devoted to sayings from the Holy Koran: "The day will come when all humans will congregate before the court of the Almighty, so that their deeds are examined."

"I trust both of us believe in such a day... Do you not think that if all of us come to believe in and abide by these principles, that is, monotheism, worship of God, justice, respect for the dignity of man, belief in the Last Day, we can overcome the present problems of the world -- that are the result of disobedience to the Almighty and the teachings of prophets -- and improve our performance?"

Ahmadinejad then asks the American president to "accept this invitation." That is, he says, "a genuine return to the teachings of prophets, to monotheism and justice, to preserve human dignity and obedience to the Almighty and His prophets?"

He then delves into moral values -- "the people are disgusted with increasing corruption."

"The people... are angry about the attacks on their cultural foundations and the disintegration of families."

And the crux: (Oh, Samuel Huntington, you are justified):

"Liberalism and Western-style democracy have not been able to help realize the ideals of humanity. Today these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic systems.

"We increasingly see that people around the world are flocking towards a main focal point -- that is the Almighty God. Undoubtedly through faith in God and the teachings of the prophets, the people will conquer their problems. My question for you is: 'Do you not want to join them?'"

I have absolutely no inside information, but my hunch is that the reply from President Bush will be something very akin to what Gen. Anthony McAuliffe replied to the Germans when they requested his surrender at Bastogne in the winter of 1944.

Source: United Press International

Related Links

Ahmadinejads Letter Possible 11th Hour Ploy
Washington (UPI) May 10, 2006
Middle East analysts will be burning the midnight oil for the next few days, trying to decide if the letter sent by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to President George W. Bush represents a bold step by the conservative president of the Islamic republic; if it should be interpreted as a sign of weakness; or if it has ulterior motives.

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