In a first reaction to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at the UN conference in Geneva, Ahmad Moussavi from Iran wrote on Radio Farda’s Facebook page: “I am ashamed as an Iranian. And I don’t know what else to say.”
At the anti-racism conference on Monday, Ahmadinejad accused Israel of being “racist.” “Using the Jewish suffering and the Holocaust as an excuse […] they created a racist government in the occupied Palestinian territories,” he said, pointing to the post-World War II Western powers.
Life proved right the U.S., Germany, Canada, Australia, and some other Western countries that had boycotted the meeting, fearing that the Iranian president would repeat his previous accusations against the Jewish state. Once Ahmadinejad started his speech at the conference with anti-Israeli attacks, representatives of 25 other countries including all remaining members of the EU walked out the meeting in protest.
No, Ahmadinejad has not learned from the damage he inflicted in the past on his own country’s international standing with his inflammatory, hateful polemics. Contrary to the expectation of some moderation in rhetoric to pave the way for more engagement with the new U.S. administration and the EU, he once again demonstrated that he is either irreparably useless as a president of an otherwise respected old nation or he simply “plays crazy,” as another Radio Farda listener suggested, to gather more votes in Iranian presidential election in two months.
One has to see if it will help Ahmadinejad to get re-elected. To be sure, he has further isolated Iran from Western powers that his own diplomats have been trying hard to win as friends — powers that are crucially important for Iran’s stability and economic development.
While vehemently criticizing Ahmadinejad’s “hateful rhetoric,” the U.S. has said that Washington’s policy of engagement and dialogue with Tehran would continue. And the EU is not expected to go to war against Iran just for a repeated diplomatic disaster its president has created for his own country. But engagement and dialogue will be extremely complicated and overly slow, should Ahmadinejad really be re-elected in June.
Unless Tehran is on a total confrontational course with the West and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has decided to be the Middle East’s Kim Jong-il of North Korea, Ahmadinejad’s repeated hate rhetoric may be an indication that he will not run for a second term of presidency. Khamenei has the final word on who will become president and Ahmadinejad has not officially registered yet as a candidate.