Ahmadinejad believes that the Hidden Imam is about to return and that it is the duty of the Islamic Republic to provoke a "clash of civilizations" to hasten that return. As he asserts in his letter, Ahmadinejad also believes that the liberal democratic model of market-based capitalist societies has failed and is rejected even in its traditional homeland. Ahmadinejad has been impressed by the extent of recent riots in France in which the extreme Left provided the leadership while the Muslim sub-proletariat offered much of the muscle in the streets.
Rather than ignoring Ahmadinejad's letter, President Bush should reply to him by inviting him to abandon Khomeinism and convert to liberal democracy. For, when all is said and done, the fight over Iran today is not about real or imagined nuclear weapons; it is about the kind of Iran with which the Middle East, indeed the whole world, can feel comfortable. Ahmadinejad's letter shows that a majority of Iranians, let alone the world as a whole, cannot feel comfortable with the kind of Iran he represents.
Khomeinist regime faces "challenges". Writing in the Arab News, Taheri has this to say:
Talk to any "Iran specialist" about opposition to the present regime and you are likely to hear that it is marginal, exists largely in exile, and affects segments of the urban middle classes, especially students, mainly in Tehran.
The conclusion, therefore, is that the system now headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is firmly entrenched with no credible challenge looming on the horizon.
However, that picture, largely accurate for much of the past two decades, may be about to change as the system created by the late Ayatollah Khomeini faces new challenges.
These new challenges come from several sources.
The first, and possibly the most important, is the urban working class that has just started to flex its muscles. ...
Workers' protests, unlike student protests, could have an impact on the economy. Ahmadinejad has responded with a "buy-in" program in which workers can buy stock in state-owned companies (most of which are operating at a loss); and by filling the workers' ranks with strikebreakers. Labor Minister Jaromi, believing the oil sector paramount to Iran's economy, goes the head chief one better and recruits only regime loyalists to the oil industry.
IRI: No talks with US over Iraq. The party's over. All hopes for a coridal dialog between the US and the Islamic Republic of Iran over the fate of Iraq have been dashed. We are shocked. Iran Focus reports: ' Iran announced on Sunday that it will not hold direct talks with the United States on the issue of Iraq. “The issue of negotiations between Iran and the U.S. regarding Iraq is no longer on the table”, Iran’s newly-appointed ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Qomi told the official new agency. Qomi said that the issue of Iran-U.S. talks over Iraq had been raised for close to a year but had been repeatedly rejected by Tehran until it was formally proposed by Iraqi officials. “Following the establishment of a permanent government in Iraq, we have no issue to negotiate about”, he said.' A terrible shame; those talks showed such promise.
German embassy next? A subscription article at Debka suggests a seizure of Germany's embassy in Iran may be in the works, a nostalgic recollection of the "444 days" of 1979. An alleged American spy ring operating out of the German embassy is said to be the pretext. They are hoping that the stunt would bring German pressure on the US in Iran's favor and distract attention from the nuclear crisis, perhaps yielding secret back-channel negotiations between Tehran and Washington. Good luck with that.
Hadley: No direct talks with Iran. From Stratfor (subscription): 'Direct engagement between Iran and several other countries within the framework of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) is the best way to resolve the current standoff regarding Iran's nuclear program, U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said May 14. Hadley dismissed suggestions that the United States should engage in direct talks with Iran, calling the UNSC the preferred forum for talks at this time.'
Iran: That goes for us, too. Iran Focus: ' Iran announced on Sunday that it will not hold direct talks with the United States on the issue of Iraq. “The issue of negotiations between Iran and the U.S. regarding Iraq is no longer on the table”, Iran’s newly-appointed ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Qomi told the official new agency.'
Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.