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When Propaganda Becomes Heroic | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The Iranian regime rejoiced because of the withdrawal of European countries and the boycott by the United States and others of the address by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad at the World Conference against Racism [Durban II] in Switzerland, and the Israeli dispute with the host country that followed that address.

For decades, the Iranian regime has been engaged in propaganda skirmishes against Israel. Both sides benefit from the echoes of these skirmishes. In the verbal threat to erase it from existence, and in being targeted by the aspired for nuclear bomb and ballistic missiles Israel finds an excuse to gain sympathy and funds, and to evade the international demand to fulfill its commitments to the Palestinians. As for Iran, it is pleased with the applaud, proud of the admiration of the Arab and Muslim worlds that consider anyone who challenges Israel a hero, without thinking of the reality of heroism.

Iran imitates the steps of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who lived most years of his reign in a verbal conflict with Israel, and who had been pleased and proud of the heroism he was achieving in the Arab street, a heroism for which he ultimately paid everything he had including his life. Even during Saddam’s dependence on the west in fighting Iran in the eighties, he deliberately made trouble for the west thinking that this was one of the necessary requirements of regional leadership. Saddam arrested a wretched British journalist who was visiting Baghdad, and executed him on the pretext that he was a spy. Saddam held press conferences to ridicule accusations that he was pursuing the manufacture of nuclear weapons; at the same time he threatened to burn half of Israel. About one year after that, indeed he burned half of Kuwait, and dispersed its people. However, from that day the bell rang for the end of his regime.

Ahmadinejad to a great extent imitates Saddam in his speeches, press conferences and interviews, and long-distance provocation of the west ranging from imprisoning a woman journalist to the burning of the flags at the rallies, and to threatening to burn Israel by nuclear weapons.

At the same time, most of the heroism of Ahmadinejad is verbal. He has never confronted Israel, and his Revolutionary Guard has never engaged with any Israeli in any place or on any occasion, except through others, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah. This is what Saddam did, as he used to employ Abu-al-Abbas and Abu-Nidal in confrontation operations against the Israelis, or against the Arabs hostile to him.

We are facing the same language, project, and promises that create a demagogic leadership, while if Iran were to confront Israel by itself, and not via the Lebanese or Palestinian Hamas, we would have been obliged to consider its leadership as true.

The question is: Where will President Ahmadinejad take his country, Iran, through his extremism? I see him follow the same way Saddam followed. It is a way that will force him tomorrow to engage in a confrontation for which he is not planning. This is despite the fact that we ought to say that the Iranian regime differs from Saddam’s rule by the existence of real powers that might not allow Ahmadinejad to lead them too far toward a confrontation with the west or Israel. These powers are trying to utilize the verbal leadership in collecting negotiating points to be used at the right time for political gains.

Whatever the case may be, we lose as a result of the Iranian verbal confrontations, we lose as a result of real military confrontations, we lose as a result of an Iranian victory, and we lose as a result of an Iranian loss. Any confrontation is costly for the region. Such confrontations do not restore a right or establish a state. Here we are living in fictitious heroisms from Nasser to Saddam, and now to Ahmadinejad.