A man looks at a newspaper in Tehran R 390.
(photo credit: Raheb Homavandi/Reuters)
Iran’s latest elections will have a negligible effect on its nuclear drive and
foreign policy, analysts said Sunday after candidates close to Supreme Leader
Ali Khamenei routed rivals affiliated with President Mahmoud
Eliezer Tzafrir – head of the Mossad’s Iran bureau on the
eve of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and a former prime ministerial adviser on
Mideast affairs – said the results are most significant in the Iranian domestic
“The elections are relevant only in terms of internal squabbles
within the regime,” Tzafrir said.
“Everyone says Khamenei and his cronies
are more extreme than Ahmadinejad’s camp. I’m not sure that’s true... Ultimately
this regime is made up of zealous, messianic fanatics whose view of the world is
one the free, Western world simply isn’t familiar with.”
regime is obsessed with the West, he said, Israel and America in particular “as
a rotten, failed and impotent civilization that won’t do a thing, and therefore
Iran can and must continue on its nuclear path.
“I say this somewhat
jokingly, but Ahmadinejad is good for Israel. Why? Because he talks like Hitler,
and the world understands the significance of what he’s saying,” he added.
“Others in the regime conceal their goal of wiping Israel off the
Tzafrir said most Iranians – around 80 percent, in his estimation –
oppose the regime. With the economy in a tailspin and international sanctions
mounting, he predicted it is a matter of time before Tehran’s theocratic regime
is pushed out of office.
“Unfortunately, Iran will probably get the bomb
before then,” he said.
Prof. David Menashri – president of the Academic
Center of Law and Business in Ramat Gan and founding director of Tel Aviv
University’s Center for Iranian Studies – said this week’s election results were
essentially known ahead of time.
“This contest was waged solely between
the current ruling elite,” he said. “It will be very hard for Ahmadinejad to
operate over the next year and a half or so that he has left. Nonetheless, he is
a man who is full of surprises and doesn’t give up easily.”
agreed that for all his combative rhetoric, Ahmadinejad is more amenable to
compromise with the West than is the supreme leader.
spearheading Iran’s anti-American policy – and its rejection of the US attempt
at dialogue after Barack Obama was voted president in 2009 – was first and
foremost Khamenei,” he said. “It’s true Ahmadinejad often makes messianic,
apocalyptic statements, but it would be easier to reach an understanding even
with the Revolutionary Guards than with Khamenei.” He added that since replacing
Ruhollah Khomeini as supreme leader, Khameini “has been forced to be holier than
the pope, who in this case is Khomeini.”
Fars news agency on Sunday
quoted the head of Iran’s army as saying “all options are on the table” in
confronting the country’s enemies.
“The armed forces...remind the
enemies that they, graced by the Almighty God and backed up by the people’s huge
support, are prepared to take all options against ill-wishers, aggressors and
intruders,” the agency reported, adding that the army chief “called on
Washington and Tel Aviv to abandon warmongering statements against
Menashri said there is still time for Israel and the West to
pursue nonmilitary means of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.
is a weak country, both vulnerable and isolated. Its economy has been hard hit
from sanctions; its currency has been devalued 40 percent in just the last
several months,” he said. “The military option is one nobody wants – not Iran,
the US or Israel, except maybe a small group of people in each
Still, he said, the parties are acting as though “the world is
running toward that option. I fear this rhetoric will lead leaders into a
Tzafrir said he hopes the Obama administration is genuine in
insisting “all options” – including military – are on the table in confronting
Tehran’s nuclear program.
“The United States is expected to lead the
world, and we can only hope it meets that responsibility,” he said. “But if it
does not, there will be no alternative than for Israel itself to strike.”