Shaking hands with a ‘Great Satan’?

Iran may feel that it is secure enough to reach a rapprochement with the US.

Iran debate
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, may feel that Iran has been sufficiently empowered to reach an agreement with its arch-enemy [EPA]

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, says he has written a letter to the White House recommending that Washington “grab the opportunities”.

Ahmadinejad said that Barack Obama, the US president, can achieve Middle East peace if the US changes its policies toward Iran.

He also says resuming ties with Iran is the only chance for Obama to remain in power.

The Iranian leader’s letter came just one day after he condemned a nuclear summit in the US, which is to draft a global security strategy to deal with countries the West believe to be a threat.

“World summits being organised these days are intended to humiliate human beings,” Iran’s Irna news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

“These foolish people who are in charge are like stupid, retarded people who brandish their swords whenever they face shortcomings, without realising that the time for this type of thing is over.”

Aggressive stance

Ahmadinejad has always been famous for his aggressive tone and he has never held back when it comes to criticising the United States, but the flurry of rhetoric should not hide an interesting point made by the Iranian leader.

He implied that the main obstacle on the way of resuming ties with the United States was in fact the deep-set insecurity of the people.

He said that if only a “formula” could be found to safeguard Iran’s rights, the country would go ahead and resume co-operation with the US “right now”.

His tone – sympathetic and often soft when referring to Obama – seemed to indicate he was searching for a “magic potion” that could erase the memories of 30 years of failed Iran-US relations.

Many Iranians, politicians included, feel that any kind of co-operation with the so-called world powers – especially Britain, the US and even Russia – is tantamount to handing over their homes’ keys to the thieves.

This is a deep-rooted suspicion; a century-long collective psyche fed by historical mistrust that cannot disappear; be erased or even diluted unless of course, a magical potion could be found to “safe guard Iran’s rights”.

Feeling invincible

Ahmadinejad has chosen another way: Making Iranians look, sound and most importantly feel invincible.

His aggressive foreign policy, his demeaning comments about Western democracies, his irreconcilable stance on Iran’s nuclear program and all “Ahmadinejad-brand” politics and rhetoric are part of one single package.

It could be called “Iran empowerment a la Mahmoud”.

He has worked tirelessly to show his fellow Iranians that it is indeed possible, unlike what several reformist politicians had timidly admitted to while in power, to challenge the world’s greatest superpower and get away with it.

And in many ways, he has succeeded.

An enthusiastic Ahmadinejad supporter told me once “I love this man because the whole world is scared of America, and America is scared of him.”

It is true that Ahmadinejad’s package has not been nearly as successful in overcoming economic challenges; Iran’s economy has never as frail in recent years.

But that only makes it all the more reasonable for Iranian leaders to think about reconciling with their arch-enemy. 

It seems that Ahmadinejad is hinting that, since no one can harm or threaten Iran, it’s about time to shake hands.

The magical potion may well have finally been found.

Source: Al Jazeera