Ahmadinejad’s nightmare

Instead of bringing more repression and hardship, the opportunity is there for the Arab Spring to come to resemble the Exodus, humanity’s very first “Spring of Freedom.”

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 311 (photo credit: MCT)
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 311
(photo credit: MCT)
As in previous years, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used his country’s celebration of Army Day on Monday to bash Israel and the US. April 18, the date of the establishment of Iran’s armed forces – which have effectively been sidelined by the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guard – is commonly commemorated with jingoistic processions of missiles, tanks and legions of uniformed soldiers; and it has become customary for Ahmadinejad to utter threats against the Jewish state and epithets against the bulwark of freedom and democracy, America.
“A new Middle East will emerge without the presence of the United States and the Zionist regime and their allies in the near future,” Ahmadinejad declared, claiming that the US and Israel were plotting to “spark an Iranian-Arabian Shia-Sunni conflict.” The Iranian leader also denounced “US imperialism” in the region, saying, “Regional governments and nations should remain vigilant to overcome US plots.” According to Ahmadinejad, the Iranian people and regional nations are unhappy with the existence of Israel and will continue their fight “until the defeat of the US and Zionist regime in the region.”
The Iranian dictator’s statements were made as millions of Jews in Israel, America and elsewhere in the world – including in Iran – prepared to sit down to their Pessah Seder. His speech was literally a confirmation of what is written in the Haggada: “…in every generation there are those who rise against us to annihilate us.”
Thankfully, unlike in previous generations, what stands between the Jewish people and its enemies is not only religious faith that “the Holy One… saves us from their hand,” but also a Jewish army and Jewish political sovereignty supported by Western nations that value the ideal of freedom first introduced to humanity in the biblical story of Exodus.
UNFORTUNATELY, AHMADINEJAD’S prediction that the current revolutionary changes sweeping the region will lead to greater antagonism against Israel and the US and, therefore, to more of the same repressive, backward and/or fundamentalist leadership is no less valid than more optimistic views that see the Arab Spring as a harbinger of a bright new future for the Arab world.
Contradictory messages are being conveyed from Egypt, for instance, regarding the future of the Camp David peace agreement with Israel. And the threat that the Muslim Brotherhood will become a dominant force in Egypt is very real. Such a development would further strengthen Hamas-controlled Gaza.
In Libya, the little that is known about the rebels presently receiving Western backing to fight Muammar Gaddafi’s regime is not reassuring. The Libyan Islamic Movement for Change, one of the rebel groups, was formed by Islamists, and the Transitional National Council, the group formed by the anti-Gaddafi rebels during the uprising of 2011, was endorsed by Abu Yahya, a Libyanborn al-Qaida official who broadcast a video message urging the Benghazi rebels to continue the fight for the establishment of an Islamic regime.
In Syria, too, the future is uncertain. But that very uncertainty, in a regime that had, until recently, appeared relatively stable, underlines the risks involved for Israel in pinning hopes for security and stability too heavily upon peace agreements. Had Israel signed an agreement with the Assad regime and ceded the Golan Heights, it would now not only be without an important strategic geographical asset after a painful evacuation of thousands of peaceful Jews, it would also be without any assurance of future peaceful relations with the regime that might replace the present Alawite minority leadership. Many of the same concerns apply to the negotiating process with the Palestinians.
That is not to say no such accords can be concluded; it is to underline the ongoing imperative, such accords notwithstanding, for Israel to be able to protect itself, come what may, against shifts and changes in this unstable region.
While Ahmadinejad will doubtless do all in his power to bring his bleak predictions to fruition, it is incumbent on those who support genuine freedoms to do what they can to ensure the Arab Spring leads to the increasing realization of Western ideals such as liberty and equality, as well as a decrease in antagonism toward America and Israel, representatives of these ideals. The upsurge in popular discontent with corrupt hereditary autocracies has the potential to lead to a better life for the roughly 350 million inhabitants of the Arab world, one-third of whom are illiterate, according to the Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific Organization.
Instead of bringing more repression and hardship, the opportunity is there for the Arab Spring to come to resemble the Exodus, humanity’s very first “Spring of Freedom.” The portents, it must be said, are not good. But this outcome – Ahmadinejad’s nightmare – would, in turn, open the way for true peace and stability in the region.
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