Former Mossad chief says failure of protests may cause instability and strengthen the Revolutionary Guards.
By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
The future of the massive street protests that erupted following Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi's June 12 defeat and which have raged throughout the country since is uncertain, but their likely failure boded ill for Israel, and would usher in a period of insecurity and instability and strengthen the already-powerful Revolutionary Guards, former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy said on Sunday.
"Nobody believed that the results of the election could spark these kinds of events in the streets of Teheran, and no one can forecast how this will play out and what the ultimate results will be," Halevy said in an address to a gathering of The Jewish Agency Board of Governors meeting in Jerusalem. He noted that the key players in the nine-day old crisis were making decisions on a "daily basis," rendering speculation on its eventual outcome meaningless, and urged patience and circumspection on Israel's part.
"If you wanted someone to tell you what will happen, you would be better served by seeing a science-fiction movie," he said.
His views clashed with those of Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who said this week that the protests would peter out.
Halevy said the post-election crisis was nothing short of a "revolution," noting that it had exposed deep and unexpected fissures in the Iranian leadership.
"The situation had been brewing for some time, but no one believed it would happen right after the elections," he said.
In his wide-ranging address, Halevy cautioned that the extremist Revolutionary Guards in Iran, which he said was the most powerful entity in the Islamic Republic today and a key element of Iran's nuclear program, would become even more powerful if the 2009 "revolution" failed.
"The worst could be ahead of us," he said.
Halevy said it was "simplistic" to say it was immaterial whether President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi was in power since they both would pursue the same nuclear policy.
"No one can predict what Mousavi would do," Halevy said. "Mousavi of 2009 is not the Mousavi of 1981-2."
He noted that since the June 12 elections, Mousavi had been acting in an uncharacteristic way.
"Should he triumph, there will be a new ballgame in Iran," he said. However, he conceded it was "more likely" Mousavi would not emerge victorious.
While Israel wasn't capable of influencing the developing crisis, a positive ramification for the Jewish state was that Iran's proxies in the region - Hizbullah and Hamas - would be weakened by it regardless of the outcome, said Halevy.
"Things could change very rapidly in the weeks and months to come," he said.
"The more circumspect we are, the wiser we might come out in the end."
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