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Actually, Beware Iran's Moderate Candidate

Israel, Walla! News

By Danny Ayalon

Exactly this is likely to be the more dangerous situation, because creating the appearance of reform and moderation might mislead the West and lead to an easing of sanctions – whereas in practice, the nuclear policy will go on unchanged.


Translated by Viktoria Lymar

Edited by Steven Stenzler


14 June 2013




Hoping for the victory of Rouhani the “reformist”? Danny Ayalon suggests to replace a floppy: anyway, the president's role comes down to talk so if we're already at that point, then what is preferable is a vehement radical like Ahmadinejad, who raised up the world against his country.


The attempt to predict the results of Iran’s presidential elections held today (Friday) which are to determine the replacement of the incumbent president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for the next four years is unnecessary. Although the people of Iran will participate in the festival of the “democratic elections,” so to speak, in which they’re going to vote at the polls for one of the candidates in a predetermined list, the winner is to be in any case the one whom the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will want just as it was in the last election in 2009.

Khamenei is the one who’ll continue to dictate the extreme conservative policy of the ayatollahs; the Iranian people will remain under oppression, and Iran will continue tirelessly in developing its nuclear program, in its support for terrorist organizations and in defiance and threats against all its neighbors.

In essence, therefore, there won’t occur any change in Iran's conduct. And still, the identity of the new president will have a significance, and it will even have strategic implications. Why? It's all about image.


The Best Asset of Israeli Propaganda


Over the eight years of his presidency, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used to threaten the United States and the West a lot, called for the destruction of Israel, denied the Holocaust and exposed Iran's resolve to reach a military nuclear capability. His blunt and uncompromising extremism urged the international understanding that Iran must be stopped. Ahmadinejad by his own hands paved the way to international sanctions which increasingly worsened the farther he went in his statements. Even the most indifferent elements in the international community had to consent to sanctions. Paradoxically, Ahmadinejad has been the best propaganda asset of Israel and the U.S.

Currently, Khamenei's dilemma is whether to switch direction, to please  the internal forces desiring a change in Iran and to elect a president who would be relatively popular in the country and outside it or to choose a personal and ideological associate.

Of all the candidates, the obvious successor to Ahmadinejad is Saeed Jalili, who served as deputy foreign minister and headed the Iranian nuclear negotiating team, vis-a-vis world powers and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Jalili, considered very close to Khamenei, is an ultra-conservative who promised to accelerate the nuclear project. On the opposite, the candidate Hassan Rouhani, former Deputy Speaker of Parliament, is known for his soft-spoken and temperate talk. Rouhani has been also supported by Iran's moderates wanting reforms in the society. His moderate image may deceive the West, as if a real shift has taken place in Iran's intentions.

Exactly this is likely to be the more dangerous situation, since creating the appearance of reform and moderation might mislead the West and lead to an easing of sanctions whereas in fact, the nuclear policy will go on unchanged. The West must not get confused by the new president, whoever he will be. The only criterion that should determine the attitude to Iran is its full compliance with the international community’s demands: halting uranium enrichment to the level of 20 percent, stopping the building of centrifuges, dismantling the underground enrichment facilities and complete transparency in work in front of the international inspectors.


The author is former Israeli ambassador to Washington, member of the Knesset and Deputy Foreign Minister


Original Hebrew article:



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