Whose New Middle East?

(Jerusalem Post) Amir Taheri - * Last week, Iran's "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei, the nation's ultimate decision-maker, not only gave his ringing endorsement to Ahmadinejad's remarks, but went further by offering his "vision for Palestine." Khamenei said Iran rejected the two-states formula proposed by the U.S., and would fight for the creation of a single state encompassing Israel and the Palestinian territories. In such a state, power would be in the hands of Muslims, although some Jews would be allowed to remain. Khamenei further suggested that Israel's political and military leaders, especially Prime Minister Sharon, be tried on charges of crimes against humanity. * Teheran wants a clash with the U.S. over the future of the Middle East, and is convinced that it can win. Sooner or later a new status quo has to emerge in the Middle East. The question is whether it will be shaped by the U.S. or by Iran. * The only regional powers capable of challenging Iran's leadership are out of the race for different reasons. Turkey has decided to become part of Europe. Egypt is heading for a period of instability under an octogenarian leader who just managed to retain power with the support of no more than 12% of the electorate in a rigged election. * Iran, on the other hand, has become more powerful. Internally, the soft-liners have been kicked out, allowing a new generation of radical revolutionaries to seize control of all levers of state power. Iran's oil income is at an all-time high, allowing the new president to buy popular support. * Echoing Ahmadinejad's analysis, the Iranian media present the West, led by the U.S., as a "sunset" (ofuli) power that must be taken on and defeated by a "sunrise" (tolue'e) Islamic power led by Iran. In that context the destruction of Israel becomes a key element in Teheran's strategy in the Middle East because Ahmadinejad knows that radical Sunni Arabs will not accept the leadership of Shi'ite Iran unless it is perceived as the only power capable of realizing their dream of wiping Israel off the map.

2005-11-11 00:00:00

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