Sunday, January 28, 2007

Delusions of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

I meant to post a commentary this weekend, explaining how in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's fantasy world--a world in which he recieves messages from the Divine, Holocaust is a myth and the end is near for the US and Israel-- a US military strike against Iran is not only a bluff but the American troops are in retreat!

But Amir Taheri beat me to it. If you are wondering what's going on in Ahmadinejad's mind, or what he dreams about when asleep, take a look at Taheri's latest article in Asharq Alawsat:

Hours after receiving the Qatari visitor, Ahmadinejad attacked those who say he is leading the country to war. "What war?" he asked. " Some people say we are heading for war? Gentlemen, what war? The warmongers (i.e. the United States) are in retreat. They say we shall pay a heavy price for resistance. What price? What price have we paid?"

Ahmadinejad has also decided to test the Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq by ordering Tehran's clients there to turn the heat on the US and allied forces. Last week's attacks in Karbala and Basra, Iraqi Shi'ite cities that had been quiet, were part of that scheme. Another part of his plan provides for a coup by the Lebanese Hezballah with the help of a segment of the Maronite community led by Michel Aoun...Ahmadinejad also believes that American public opinion would not allow President George W Bush to take military action against the Khomeinist regime. Tehran's official media make a point of publicising the views of Bush's opponents to the maximum.

Ahmadinejad also counts on France and Russia to split the Security Council and isolate the United States. President Jacques Chirac's decision to open a direct channel to Ahmadinejad by sending a special emissary is seen as a sign that France would oppose US plans for further sanctions against Iran. The Islamic Republic is also redoubling its efforts to persuade Russia's President Vladimir Putin to invite Ahmadinejad to Moscow before the next session of the Security Council in March. Nevertheless, the president has issued a list of threats through Hussein Shariatmadari, Editor of the daily Kayhan, and a key spokesman for the radical Khomeinist faction. "The Americans must be made to understand the horrible consequences of any foolish act on their part," Shariatmadari wrote in an editorial last week. He then listed a series of warnings:

*** The Islamic Republic would attack American and allied troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

*** The Islamic Republic will stop the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, depriving the global market of 24 million barrels each day

*** A storm of missiles will be unleashed against Israel, turning that country into "an earthly hell before they go to the real hell."

*** Arab countries allied to the US will see their very existence endangered.

*** The peoples of Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and "parts of Arabia" will be invited to state uprisings against their governments to take revenge from their rulers.

Taheri then asks: What does all this remind you of? The obvious answer is " Saddam Hussein and his delusions in 2003. The late Ba'athist leader was also confident that Arab divisions, Western rivalries, and the peculiarities of the democratic system in the United States would , in the end, shield his regime against any attack.

Taheri is absolutely true. Some of the unclassified reports from US military interviews with Saddam 's captured aides regarding Saddam's delusions were published in a 2006 article in Foreign Affairs titled "Saddam's Delusions: A view From The Inside:"

Ibrahim Ahmad Abd al-Sattar, the Iraqi army and armed forces chief of staff, claimed that Saddam believed that even if his international supporters failed him and the United States did launch a ground invasion, Washington would rapidly bow to international pressure to halt the war. According to his personal interpreter, Saddam also thought his "superior" forces would put up "a heroic resistance and . . . inflict such enormous losses on the Americans that they would stop their advance." Saddam remained convinced that, in his own words, "Iraq will not, in any way, be like Afghanistan. We will not let the war become a picnic for the American or the British soldiers. No way!"

When the coalition assault did come, Saddam stubbornly clung to the belief that the Americans would be satisfied with an outcome short of regime change. According to Sattar, "No Iraqi leaders had believed coalition forces would ever reach Baghdad." Saddam's conviction that his regime would survive the war was the primary reason he did not have his forces torch Iraq's oil fields or open the dams to flood the south, moves many analysts predicted would be among Iraq's first in the event of an invasion. In the words of Aziz, "[Saddam] thought that this war would not lead to this ending." Saddam realized that if his strategic calculus was correct, he would need the oil to prop up the regime. Even with U.S. tanks crossing the Iraqi border, an internal revolt remained Saddam's biggest fear. In order to quell any postwar revolt, he would need the bridges to remain intact and the land in the south to remain unflooded. On this basis, Saddam planned his moves...

Where will Ahmadinejad's delusions lead Iran to?