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Politics & Policies: Ahmadinejad's blunder

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during the second day of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) meeting in the holy Muslim city of Mecca in western Saudi Arabia 08 December 2005. Ahmadinejad told Iran's Arabic-language satellite channel Al-Alam from Mecca that if Germany and Austria feel responsible for massacring Jews during World War II, a state of Israel should be established on their soil, asking "why should the Palestinian Muslims have to pay the price?". AFP photo by Hassan Ammar

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (UPI) Dec 10, 2005
Iran's new hard line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could borrow the words from a Britney Spears song, "Oops, I did it again." But this is where all comparison stops. What President Ahmadinejad has done again is open his mouth and insert his foot.

Last October while speaking to a group of students in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said, "Israel should be wiped off the map." Not exactly the most tactful words coming from a head of state. It is becoming evident that Iran's new president is showing his lack of political experience and absence of savoir-faire. Instead, he is behaving like a bull in a china shop, upsetting world leaders and even embarrassing some of his own conservatives.

Taking advantage of the presence of the international media at an extraordinary summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Mecca, the Iranian president again stepped in it. This time he suggested that Israel be moved to Europe -- somewhere between Germany and Austria. That was after he expressed doubts that the holocaust ever took place.

The Iranian president's remarks demonstrates inexperience on top of arrogance, and is taking Iran into a head-on confrontation with the world community.

The international response was not long in coming with world leaders chiding the Iranian president for his inexcusable gaffe. Even King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who had called the summit hoping to project a gentler visage of Islam, appeared furious that the Iranian president had hijacked the summit to propel his inanities.

Israel called Ahmadinejad "very dangerous." Israel's Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, speaking on Israel Radio commented, "This was not a misstatement or a passing remark. It is a systematic way of thinking which is intended to bring about the annihilation of the state of Israel."

Echoing his boss's views, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said, "This is not the first time that the Iranian leader has expressed outrageous and racist views towards Jews and Israel. I hope that these outrageous remarks will be a wake-up call to people who have any illusions about the nature of the regime in Iran."

Foreign Minister Shalom may be correct in his assessment of the Iranian president. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is proving himself to be extremely dangerous, indeed. But the danger he represents is more likely to hurt Iran than Israel. Certainly his insalubrious harangues can awaken emotions of hate among young Muslims. Yet his diatribes are far more dangerous for the people of Iran, who as president he has sworn to protect.

As Regev, the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said, it will serve as a wake-up call that Ahmadinejad is hardly someone the rest of the world can do business with.

Ahmadinejad's remarks will hurt Iran because they will be used against him. One certainty is that neither the United States nor the European Community nor Israel will stand by quietly while Iran, under the leadership of someone as unpredictable as Ahmadinejad moves to acquire nuclear weapons.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said such talk further "underscores our concerns about the regime in Iran. And it's all the more reason why it's so important that the regime not have the ability to develop nuclear weapons."

Some observers have started comparing the Iranian president to Libya's strongman Muammar Gadhafi who in the past counted among one of Israel's staunchest opponents.

The major difference between Ahmadinejad and Gadhafi is that while the Libyan leader was more bark than bite, Iran's president is soon to be in possession of nuclear weapons.

"I would not take him lightly. Such a statement displays a way of thinking which shows he is very dangerous," said Israel's foreign minister.

Around the world U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed "shock" while Jack Straw, Britain's foreign secretary said statements as these are simply "unacceptable." Germany's newly elected Chancellor Angela Merkel went a step further saying it was "totally unacceptable."

As for the Palestinians, whom Ahmadinejad believes he is supporting, such statements does nothing to help advance their cause, Indeed, it will only regress it by adding more oil to the fire.

At the same time the Iranian president's statements will serve to rally world opinion against Iran, perhaps something Ahmadinejad hopes in turn will unite the people of Iran behind him.

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad's statement left the Saudis furious. King Abdullah's efforts in organizing this extraordinary summit of Muslim states was meant to address urgent problems affecting the Islamic world, such as terrorism, and to offer the world a gentler image of Islam. Certainly the Saudis did not expect more ranting and raving.

The inexperienced Iranian president is also starting to upset some of his own conservative political base back home, where Iranian newspapers chose not to report their president's remarks.

This latest rant will not help Iran's case with the International Atomic Energy Agency whose chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Friday the world was losing patience with Iran in the ongoing negotiations over Iran's desire to develop nuclear energy,

Oops, Ahmadinejad did it again.

Source: United Press International

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Peace Laureate Elbaradei Calls For World Without Nuclear Weapons
Oslo (AFP) Dec 10, 2005
The head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency Mohamed ElBaradei Saturday received the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize and called for a world free of atomic weapons, saying existing nuclear states should lead by example.

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