Tehran’s Riposte to Washington on Their Nuclear Dispute, Lebanon, Syria and Khuzestan

A virtual nobody on Iran’s national scene, Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 49, was picked by Iran’s radical Islamic leaders and swung ahead of the presidential race to deal “the heaviest psychological blow to Iran’s enemies.” Those words were uttered by the new president in his first post-election statement Saturday, June 25. They attested to the fact that Iran had chosen him as its tool for getting back at the Bush administration for seeking to bring regime change and democracy to the Middle East and Iran in particular.
Everyone but the radical wire-pullers in Tehran was surprised by the victory of a candidate whom most of the Iranian electorate had never heard of. He beat the familiar former president Hashemi Rafsanjani by a resounding 62%: 35%. But nothing had been left to chance. Ahmadinejad was thrust into the presidency by careful engineering, organization and the deployment of every single cog the powerful machine of the heavily centralized government could muster. The Revolutionary Guards in which the candidate once served as an officer was brought into play. With the help too of massive vote-rigging, the ruling clique could cynically claim to have achieved regime change through the ballot box – only it turned out to be more Islamic, more militant, and more Iranian than before.
debkafile‘s Iran experts note that this is the second victory Iran’s unelected spiritual ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has scored against Washington in a month.
In early June, the Bush administration quietly gave up hope of the European-Iranian diplomatic track – or even UN Security Council penalties – persuading Tehran to relinquish its nuclear weapons program. The European option was dropped after of Britain and Germany edged away from a showdown with Tehran over uranium enrichment. The notion of UN sanctions was set aside when it became obvious that China and Russia would veto a Security Council oil embargo against Iran.
(This tidal shift in Washington’s posture was first revealed by debkafile on June 13:
Washington gives up on Iran’s nuclear bomb, therefore backs ElBaradei’s reappointment. article)
Having faced down the United States and Israel in this issue, the Islamic regime came to the conclusion that there was no power on earth left to interfere with its progress towards achieving a nuclear bomb. The Bush administration had meanwhile changed course and opted to strike the Iranians on their home front:
1. By backing an ethnic Arab uprising in Khuzestan, the province that produces 80% of Iran’s oil. This revolt is turning into an Arab guerrilla war against the Iranian rulers -sustained mainly by American, British, Iraq, Kurdish support and assistance from the Gulf emirates Abu Dhabi and Kuwait. However, the Khuzestan rebels are not strong enough yet to stand up to the Iranian army or seriously damage Iranian oil production.
(The Khuzestan uprising was first exposed in DEBKA-Net-Weekly Issues 203 of April 22 and 204 of May 6).
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2. By sending US Special Forces and CIA instructors to train Iraqi Kurdish fighters for combat in north Iranian Kurdish provinces, in the hope sparking an uprising there too. (This move was also first aired in DEBKA-Net-Weekly 204).
3. By initiating active steps to change the regime in Syria. Tehran believes the Bush administration is bent on toppling Syrian president Bashar Assad and views the forced expulsion of Syrian troops from Lebanon under extreme US-French pressure as one of those steps. Iran’s rulers are not prepared to witness the downfall of Assad who is regarded as ally and backer of their protegee, the Lebanese Hizballah with political, diplomatic and logistic aid.
4. American action to hamper Iran’s air freight of arms to Lebanon has succeeded in gaining Ankara’s consent to close Turkish air space to those flights. Iranians see this step as another mark of American hostility, like –
5. American pressure for Hizballah to disarm and dismantle the more than 10,000 rockets pointing at Israel. Tehran needs those rockets to stay where they are as its second-strike military capability on the shores of the Mediterranean and a deterrent to Israeli attack. Attempts to remove this menacing array are viewed as a direct assault on Iran’s strategic interests.
6. The US demand for Hizballah units to pull back from southern Lebanon and distanced from the Israeli border. Tehran views Hizballah’s redeployment as the removal of its military threat against Israel and the severance of the group’s collaborative ties with Iran-funded Palestinian terrorist organizations operating out of Damascus and Beirut, like the Jihad Islami and Hamas.
With this mindset prevailing in Tehran, the Rafsanjani candidacy was bound to be rejected by the radical Islamic rulers as soon as he began voicing pragmatic willingness to talk terms on the nuclear issue with the United States, pledging greater freedom for national minorities and spreading words of encouragement to reform advocates including students.

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