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Why Tehran Fears Livni

By: Meir Javedanfar


According to the Alexa web ranking company, Tabnak.ir is the most popular Persian language news website in the world. It is owned by Mohsen Rezai, who was the 4th commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC). Based in Tehran, Tabnak represents a more moderate view of the IRGC and of the conservative wing of the Iranian leadership. It also happens to be one of the main critics of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his economic policies.

On the 7th of October 2008, it published an article entitled “Israel’s New Propaganda Method: Hello Neighbour”, in which it accused Tzipi Livini of trying to reach out to Israel’s neighbours.

Quoting from an article in Egypt’s Al Ahram newspaper, the article quotes Livini as saying “Israel wants to haveLivni good relations with its neighbors. Palestinians are our neighbors, and so are Syria, Lebanon, and other Arab countries”.

The article also quotes Livni as saying “Iran is not solely our problem. The international community should decide for its own future, and only negotiations at a global level can solve the Iranian issue”.

What is interesting is that Tabnak sees Tzipi Livni’s approach in a negative light. According to its analysis, the new head of the Kadima party is doing this because of falling popularity of her party.

What Tabnak doesn’t say is that as far as Iran’s leadership is concerned, Iran has every intention to make Israel look like a war monger. The recent threats made by Israeli ministers such as Shaul Mofaz and Rafi Eitan were a gift to them, which they fully used to their advantage.

A soft spoken Israeli leader, who openly talks about improving relations with Israel’s neighbors, and is not threatening war is against Iran’s interests. Therefore she must be discredited as soon as possible. Otherwise it could cause a serious setback to Tehran’s efforts.

Iran’s concerns are compounded by the fact that Barack Obama is ahead in the polls. Having Livni as Prime Minister of Israel, Obama as president of the US, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iran is a cocktail for diplomatic disaster for Tehran in places such as the EU and the UN.

What the Iranian government desperately needs is hostile remarks from the US and Israel. Their absence would make Ahmadinejad look even more aggressive and belligerent without justification, thus leading to even more isolation of Iran. And contrary to some beliefs, Iran does take its position in the international community seriously. With oil reaching new lows and Iraq stabilizing, it has to.

The time has arrived for Israel’s leadership to follow Livni’s example. Threatening Iran is counter productive. Such threats would justify a massive Iranian military retaliation in case of an Israeli strike. Tehran could say that Israel too has been threatening its security and sovereignty. And if Israel eventually decides against launching a military strike, then all these threats would make Jerusalem look like a toothless tiger, thus damaging Israel’s deterrence image.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and right wing extremists in the Iranian government are Israel’s enemies. Their reckless talk is a gift which Jerusalem should not return to the sender.

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Posted on : Oct 18 2008
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