— The Erimtan Angle —

Hamid Dabashi: Threat of war makes Iran more of a “garrison” state as sanctions hurt ordinary people (7 March 2012).

On the opposite side of the fence, as worded by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), the narrative sounds somewhat different: ‘Amid Iran’s nuclear standoff and reports of its human rights abuses, the Iranian Parliamentary elections on March 2 garnered suprisingly little outside interest. This was because the whole event was simply a contest amongst various strains of extremists – with reformists largely excluded from taking part, or boycotting. It was essentially a battle between supporters of Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The election results are in and it seems Ahmadinejad lost the battle and now may be reduced to being a ‘lame duck’ President. The showdown follows two years of a public rift between the leaders. Khamenei believes that Ahmadinejad challenged his authority on government affairs including foreign policy and intelligence. The rift became apparent in April when Ahmadinejad publicly opposed Khamenei’s order to reinstate the intelligence minister, who had been dismissed by Ahmadinejad. The President then boycotted government meetings for more than a week in protest. In response Khamenei threatened to get rid of the position of President and replace it with ‘Prime Minister’ so that the Supreme Leader can retain his control over all Iranian affairs. He also had Ahmadinejad allies arrested and purged. The election results will now further cement Khamenei’s power, as his supporters won over 75% of seats in the election. The United Principlist Front, a coalition of Khamenei supporters, took some 88 seats in the 290-seat parliament. The Front for the Stability of the Islamic Revolution, a parliamentary group led by hard-line cleric Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, considered to be Ahmadinejad’s spiritual adviser, took approximately 44 seats. The President may spend the rest of his term merely trying to survive it. Ahmadinejad is likely to be summoned to an unprecedented hearing in the parliament to answer questions regarding his handling of the economy. Critics argue that Ahmadinejad inflicted higher inflation on Iranians by cutting food and fuel subsidies, and replacing them with cash handouts of around US$38 a month per person. Depending on his answers, the parliament could even seek impeachment’.[1]

Meanwhile the news agency Reuters tells the world that ‘Benjamin Netanyahu [aka Bibi] assured President Barack Obama on Monday [, 5 March] that Israel has not made any decision on attacking Iran’s nuclear sites, sources close to the talks said, but the Israeli prime minister gave no sign of backing away from possible military action . . . Behind closed doors, Netanyahu confirmed to Obama that Israel has yet to decide whether to hit Iran’s nuclear sites, though it retains the right to use military action, the sources close to the meeting said. But there was no immediate sign that Obama’s sharpened rhetoric against Tehran and his plea for Israeli restraint had caused Netanyahu to reconsider what Washington fears could be a rush to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities’.[2]  In the face of Obama’s calm and measure stance, Bibi suddenly appears level-headed and reasonable. But his obsession with Iran is very real and goes far back.[3]

On the totally loony fringe, however, madness continues unabated, the appropriately named society of madmen, Iran Watch, recently posted on its website that ‘Iran’s bank of rapidly spinning centrifuges has produced a growing stockpile of low-enriched uranium, able to fuel nuclear reactors, but able also to fuel nuclear weapons if further enriched. Enrichment raises the concentration of the uranium isotope U-235, which fissions in first-generation nuclear weapons. Based on the amount of low-enriched uranium Iran has stockpiled, and the amount it is believed to be producing each month, the Wisconsin Project estimates that by December 2008, Iran had accumulated enough U-235 to fuel one bomb — assuming Iran decided to further enrich the low-enriched material to weapon-grade. The Project further estimates that by the end of 2009, Iran had enough U-235 to fuel a second bomb; that Iran had enough of this material for a third bomb by August 2010; that Iran had enough of this material for a fourth bomb by April 2011; and that Iran had enough of this material for a fifth bomb by November 2011 — in each case assuming that Iran decided to raise the level of U-235 in its low-enriched uranium stockpile (3.5 percent U-235) to weapon-grade (90 percent or more U-235). As Iran increases its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, and its stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent U-235, it will consolidate its status as a “virtual” nuclear weapon state’.[4]

[1] “Iran election 2012: Khamenei vs Ahmadinejad” AIJAC (07 March 2012). http://www.aijac.org.au/news/article/iran-election-2012-khamenei-vs-ahmadinejad.

[2] “Netanyahu tells Obama: No Israeli decision on Iran attack” Reuters (06 March 2012). http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/06/us-usa-israel-obama-idUSTRE8230EM20120306.

[3] Cfr. “Netanyahu’s Obsession: Iran” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (25 January 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/netanyahu%E2%80%99s-obsession-with-iran/.

[4] “Iran’s Nuclear Timetable” Iran Watch (28 Feb 2012). http://www.iranwatch.org/ourpubs/articles/iranucleartimetable.html.


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