The Iranian Revolution: It's Not Just Ahmadinejad

[Foreign Affairs-Council on Foreign Relations] Akbar Ganji - For much of the Western media, Ahmadinejad is the main culprit of Iran's ills today. But this analysis is incorrect, if only because it exaggerates Ahmadinejad's importance and leaves out the country's single most powerful figure: Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader. Khamenei, who has held the post since 1989, is the head of state, the commander in chief, and the top ideologue. Blaming Iran's problems on Ahmadinejad inaccurately suggests that Iran's problems will go away when Ahmadinejad does. Tehran's policy of meddling in the business of its neighbors has very little to do with Ahmadinejad; this has always been the approach favored by the supreme leader. Iranian officials have said, for example, that the 33-day war between Hizbullah and Israel during the summer of 2006 was conducted under Khamenei's guidance. By calling for the destruction of Israel and denying the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad has given the world a pretext to mobilize against Iran. Yet Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the revolution's leader, also used to say, "Israel must cease to exist." He did not believe that the creation of two independent states with equal rights, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, could bring peace, and argued, "Israel is a cancerous tumor, and it has to be destroyed." Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran's president for much of the 1990s, also made statements opposing Israel's existence. Although denying the Holocaust has been an initiative of Ahmadinejad's, it is unlikely that he would make such a claim without the supreme leader's consent. The writer is an Iranian journalist and dissident who was imprisoned in Tehran from 2000 to 2006 and whose writings are currently banned in Iran.

2008-10-08 01:00:00

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