US-Israeli talks focus on Ahmadinejad’s possible ouster
How to exploit the deep cracks forming in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration for removing the Iranian president was a top item on the agenda of the high-level talks between Barack Obama’s advisers and Israeli officials at Mossad headquarters in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, Wednesday, July 29.
The US team was led by National Security Adviser James Jones, and heads of the administration’s Iranian desks, Dennis Ross, special adviser to president Barack Obama, and Undersecretary of State William Burns.
Israel was represented by intelligence minister Dan Meridor, Mossad chief Meir Dagan, military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin and National Security Council chief Uzi Arad.
debkafile‘s Iranian sources report that Ahmadinejad’s cabinet is falling apart; of his original lineup of 21 ministers, only nine remain at their posts. A dozen have either resigned or been sacked and although the president pretends they are all at work, the gaps in his administration are big enough to paralyze key elements of national government.
Various Iranian organizations, political, apolitical or professional, have been encouraged by the post-election protest movement to turn against Ahmadinejad and demand his removal, hoping to impress Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to withdraw his support and let him go.
Until now, the Obama administration opposed direct action against Ahmadinejad in view of the intelligence estimates that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, though at odds on some issues, were in accord on the nuclear question and acted as a viable front worth engaging in dialogue on the nuclear controversy.
Washington and Israeli had therefore agreed to allow two months’ grace until September for a coordinated effort to bring diplomatic and military pressure to bear on Tehran. As recently as Sunday, July 26, debkafile‘s Washington sources quoted a US official as asking Israel to create “military background noise” that would harass Tehran without triggering an outright military clash, whether with Iran or its surrogates, the Lebanese Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas.
But in the last three days, fresh reports have come out of Tehran indicating that US-Israeli coordination on the Iranian threat was lagging far behind developments. The Herzliya conference therefore switched its agenda to address urgent steps, in addition to the military pressure, for expediting Ahmadinejad’s eclipse.
Our sources report that the Iranian president’s main champions, the Revolutionary Guards, tried to create a diversion from his woes by ordering Hizballah to raise Lebanese-Israeli border tensions this week. However Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah preferred to keep his militia in the background and asked Lebanese president Michel Suleiman to activate the Lebanese national army instead.