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Iran… The Time Game | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In Medina when we were young, we used to wait until minutes before the noon or afternoon prayers before offering prayer mats for sale to visiting pilgrims.

In the hot Medina weather coupled with the rush to catch the prayers on time, the pilgrims did not have time to haggle over prices and would buy the mats immediately for the price offered. The Iranian pilgrims, however, were shrewder and would buy prayer mats only after prayers when they were not in a hurry, leaving the Medina merchants unable to capitalize on the time factor!

Those days retuned to me after I heard a statement by Iranian President Ahmadinejad where he said that “time is in Iran’s interest and every day that passes dictates that Europe should take a step backward and acknowledge Iran’s right, as the Iranian people advances towards the paramount of technology.”

He is correct; patience is the game that Iran is playing skillfully. International circumstances are progressing in their interest—US President George Bush has to face the Democrats, who can limit his international moves, even if they do not differ with him regarding the United States main interests. The Democrats, however, want to hold back the mere consideration of a new US war, which of course does not mean excluding the idea of a preemptive strike completely!

The situation isn’t any better in Europe, with President Chirac on the threshold of a presidential election and British Prime Minister Tony Blair leaving office soon. In Israel, Iran’s mortal enemy, Ehud Olmert is still justifying his recent war with Hezbollah and continues to raise the issue of the two unreleased Hezbollah prisoners and the Israeli prisoner still held in Palestine.

On the Arab level, there are concerns and ambiguity, a fear of war or a fear of the Iranian reaction, as Iran is perceived as the big neighbor and the most influential entity in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, as well as its ability to manipulate sensitive issues in the GCC states, and the same applies to Egypt. Tehran has made the best use of the time factor and as they say. “Time is money”, and Tehran has been squandering dollars on every minute to buy influence.

Therefore the Iranian President is absolutely right in saying that time is on Iran’s side, seeing that revolutionary Iran has been alive and well since its inception in 1979. Gone are many US administrations and Arab and European leaders, and the same applies to the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, while the icons of the revolution remained and the ideology of the revolution has been expanding. Tehran has been standing at the end of the river watching, as the dead bodies of its enemies pass by.

The secret in all this lies in the clarity of what Iran wants as opposed to the divergence, complexity and contradictions of what its opponents want, whether equitable or not. Tehran has adapted to every change, whether it was Sunni Islamic or elections related, while also hosting “al Qaeda” leaders who fled to its territory. Iran played on all contradictions, while others fall a prey to such contradictions. Is there a solution to this enigma?

The answer to that is left to the game of time.