President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s sixth appearance at the United Nations was an opportunity for him to show his negative attitude toward the West. And as predicted, he delivered. He was not able to use the UN podium effectively to dissuade UN members from issuing another resolution against Iran.
Before his speech, some analysts predicted that Ahmadinejad’s presence in New York, coupled with a dose of realism, could be a step forward to improving Iran’s diplomatic ties with the West, but this did not happen. Mahmoud Kianersi, an Iranian journalist, wrote, “This visit will become another blow against Iran unless Ahmadinejad comes up with a new, creative offer to the world.”
Inside Iran, Iranians also thought the president’s performance was lackluster. Since his speech, Iranians have been posting jokes and funny clips of Ahmadinejad, especially his gaffes made during interviews, on their Facebook pages. Despite attempts at filtering and Internet censorship by the Iranian government, Facebook and blogs remain the primary means through which the Iranian people can exchange their ideas with the world and relay their feelings to the international community.
Ahmadinejad is accused by the opposition of having rigged the elections. He is even called the “coup president.” This belief that his government is illegitimate, combined with the government’s harsh crackdown of protestors in the aftermath of the June 12 elections, has led many to ignore Ahmadinejad’s anti-American rants. Iranians in the opposition—even those leftists who used to go on tirades against the United States—are now too focused on Ahmadinejad’s deeds against the Iranian people to worry about America.
Political parties and groups have not reacted to Ahmadinejad’s comments yet. It is expected that the wing loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will demonstrate support of Ahmadinejad at tomorrow’s Friday prayer.
In Iran, most individuals, unless they are extremely important, risk going to jail if they publicly criticize Iran’s nuclear policy or question Ahmadinejad’s controversial approach on the nuclear issue. And analyzing the Islamic Republic’s positions on the nuclear issue from an independent perspective is a major redline for Iranian media.
Most Iranians residing in Europe, who are mainly in opposition to the Islamic Republic, believe that Ahmadinejad was the messenger for Khamenei at the United Nations. Many analysts believe that Iran is going through a sensitive period, while its nuclear case is being reexamined by the UN Security Council. Ahmadinejad, who has Khamenei’s support and blessing, has repeatedly asserted Iran’s right to enrich uranium and called that an “inalienable right.”
In a message sent to the nuclear summit held in Tehran, Khamenei asserted, “The Iranian people, who are victims of chemical weapons, feel the threat of such weapons more than anyone else and will use all their resources to combat the spread of these weapons.”
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