ANALYSIS: West has no choice but to deal with Ahmadinejad
The threat of new sanctions against Iran could spur public support for the Islamic regime in Tehran.
"No one in Iran is waiting for greetings", declared Ahmadinejad Wednesday at his inauguration ceremony. He directed his words at the leaders of the Western world who refrained from congratulating him on his election to office. However, between a demonstrative display of their anxiety regarding Ahmadinejad's reelection and the need to soon return to dialogue with him, it will probably be the leaders of the Western world who will have to ask to shake Ahmadinejad's hand.
Indeed, Washington is boasting about a new series of sanctions against Iran that aim to decrease fuel exports to it. However, Washington will need close European cooperation in order to carry out the plans, and those countries whose leaders did not greet the Iranian president have yet to clarify whether they will join these efforts.
These sanctions, that will harm the Iranian public, are allegedly supposed to encourage domestic pressure against Ahmadinejad and to compel Khamenei to accept new resolutions regarding nuclear capabilities, however these sanctions can have a boomerang effect.
If, in 2007, Ahmadinejad was forced to institute usage quotas of gasoline in order to overcome budget problems, this time he could easily point a blaming finger at the West and drum up national support for a steadfast position against the colonialist forces.
Moreover, the final timetable that Obama stipulated by no means poses a formidable threat. It obligates an Iranian surrender, though not on the question of nuclear capabilities but rather a response to Obama's offer of dialogue. Iran does not have a problem beginning a dialogue and dragging it endlessly since Washington determined only a specific starting date for talks without an end date. The start of the dialogue will at least temporarily eradicate the threat of sanctions. Meanwhile, Iran will continue developing its nuclear technology.
Ahmadinejad in his second term is the same president who spurred massive criticism not only internationally but also in his own country. Even when he succeeded in thoroughly manipulating the world while exploiting a great deal of agreements between China and Russia on the one hand and between the United States and part of Europe on the other, the story changes inside Iran. His election win, whether it was due to a colossal fraud or if he truly won the majority vote, is meant to first preserve the regime and not only his career.
Nevertheless, this victory created the public gap between the people and the system and between the system and the pillars of the system, among them Rafsanjani, Khatami, and a large and valued group of religious scholars headed by Khamenei.
Like the heads of the Western world, these leaders were also absent from the president's inauguration ceremony. For this reason, the only hope for change in Iran's policy is if Khamenei and his advisers foresee a danger to the regime brought about by Ahmadinejad in the event the Iranian president damages the legitimacy of the supreme leader. The result may be that Khamenei will become acting prime minister and will oversee the political equilibrium before Ahmadinejad will cause further damage.
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