IRAN/ Will Ahmadinejad mimic Putin's trick?
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will retire from political life in a year from now. He announced this himself in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, during which he stressed: “Eight years are enough for me, and I think now I will return to science. Perhaps I will work politically in the university, but I will not found a party or group”. Ilsussidiario.net interviewed Ennio Di Nolfo, Professor Emeritus of the History of International Relations at the University of Florence, to ask him to comment on the implications of this choice.
Professor Di Nolfo, what will Ahmadinejad’s decision to withdraw from political life mean for the Middle Eastern chessboard?
In Iran, there is a constitutional principle according to which a president cannot be nominated and elected President of the Republic for more than two terms. Ahmadinejad’s second term ends next year, and so he will not be able to be reelected, unless he tries to repeat the same trick used by Putin in Russia, where Medvedev has kept his seat warm for four years in view of his return to the role of president. However, the statements of the Iranian President indicate that he wants to dedicate himself to his studies.
With the departure of Ahmadinejad, will Iran change their aggressive attitude towards Israel?
No, because Khatami and Khamenei are more anti-Israel than Ahmadinejad. Also, Iran is a very proud and nationalistic country, so I do not think that the Iranian clergy want to, or are able to, change policy. On the other hand, I think that Iran’s policy is mostly self-defense, and they are not particularly aggressive toward the West.
Iran is developing nuclear power though...
True, but all the other countries surrounding Iran, namely Pakistan, India, Israel, Turkey and Russia, have the atomic bomb. I do not see grounds for special alarm about the Iranian position.
Then why is Israel so alarmed?
Israel has reason to be concerned because, in their statements, the Iranians are the most anti-Israeli of the area. Let us not forget, however, that during the Iran-Iraq war, there was an alliance between Israel and Iran, with the Jewish state providing arms to Tehran. Even today, Israel should also be concerned about Hamas, Hezbollah and especially Egypt at least as much as Iran, if not more.
Iran funds Hamas, Hezbollah, the Shiite Iraqis and Assad however...