Meir Javandanfar - co author of the Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran and chief analyst at meepas reveals more about Supreme Leader and his Gaza Strippers
"The recent flare up in Gaza is causing more anger in the Iranian government. There have been several demonstrations, including the burning down of the Benetton shop in Tehran and recruitment of suicide bombers. The Iranian government has also embarked on setting up a tribunal to try Israeli officials and has called for more stringent boycotting of companies who do business with Israel.
These demonstrations and calls for help are directed by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. He is ultimately in charge of Iran's policy, and as such acts would not be under taken without his permission. There are a number of reasons behind his current strategy:
1. To pressure Western governments to put an end to Hamas's destruction. Khamenei is trying to say to them that we don't have a border with Israel, but our anger should be taken into consideration, because we are a new power in the region and our opinion should be taken seriously.2. There is also the question of Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Iran sees both of them as trying to muscle in on Gaza, an area which Tehran considers as its sole sphere of influence. To Tehran's anger, the Egyptians are not budging. Khamenei is hoping that through public gestures such as setting up courts to try Israeli officials, the Egyptian public would feel encouraged, and thus would place pressure on Mubarak to help Hamas.
3. Iran is an Islamic Republic. Compared to all of the chants we used to shout as children (Death to America, USSR, Saddam,) the only one Iran is still holding true to is 'Death to Israel.' Without it, the regime would lose the last revolutionary DNA which holds its identity together.
4. Iran is trying to be the leader of the Islamic world. Khamenei believes that the majority of the Islamic world is angry about what is happening in Gaza, and he is right. He sees the Muslim government's silence as being against the wishes of locals. By saying what he believes Muslims feel world wide, he is trying to be their representative. There is of course no free lunch. In return his hope is that they will get their government to back Iran's nuclear program.
The one person who has the most to gain is President Ahmadinejad. He has just submitted a controversial bill to the Majlis to cut state subsidies. This will make him even more unpopular.
The Gaza affair is a gift to him, which he will use to distract the Iranian people from the economic pain which is about to hit them."
art - Iranian Postage Stamp
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