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Analysis: Keep Ahmadinejad alive
By YAAKOV KATZ
08/04/2010
Israel would not assassinate Iran's president.
 
While Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is without a doubt one of Israel’s fiercest enemies, it is not in Israel’s interest, at the moment, for him to be assassinated.

Since his rise to power in 2005, Ahmadinejad has actually served Israel’s interests. His denial of the Holocaust and persistent calls to destroy Israel helped grab the world’s attention to Iran’s covert military nuclear program which culminated this past June with a new round of sanctions.

For this same reason, ahead of last summer’s rigged presidential elections, there were actually some Israeli officials who privately expressed hope that Ahmadinejad would win and not his contender – the reformist candidate Mi-Hossein Mousavi.

While a candidate like Mousavi would likely not change anything in Iran’s race to obtain nuclear power and would continue to build the bomb, his more moderate appearance and rhetoric would assist Iran in laundering the program. As a result, the international community would likely be more reluctant to pass tough sanction and engage Iran in touch diplomacy. Ahmadinejad’s continued tenure helps make sure that the pressure on Iran keeps up.

It is also not sure that someone like Mousavi would succeed Ahmadinejad. Israel learned the hard way in 1992 that assassinating leaders of terrorist organizations is not always beneficial and the same could apply to Iran. In February of that year, Israel assassinated Abbas al-Musawi, the leader of Hizbullah.

His replacement was Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, who Israeli intelligence analysts readily admit is far more conniving and treacherous than his predecessor and has built Hizbullah up to what it is today – almost half of the Lebanese government and a formidable military force to reckon with.

The truth is that there are also plenty of groups within Iran that would like to see Ahmadinejad go and not due to his nuclear policies. Firstly, there is the Green Movement, which while not much has been heard from it since the anti-regime demonstrations died down after last year’s stolen elections, it is believed to still be alive, albeit below the surface.
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