In the lead-up to his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is up to his old tricks. And sadly, the global community seems to be falling for them.
Ahmadinejad has managed to divert attention from his disputed re-election in June and the human rights abuses his government has carried out since those elections by publicly engaging in what appears to be his favorite pastime: bashing Israel and denying the Holocaust.
Last Friday, thousands of protesters poured into the streets of Tehran to show their continued opposition to Ahmadinejad and what many consider a stolen election.
The protesters made it a point to call Ahmadinejad out on his hypocrisy on Friday, which marked Quds Day, the Iranian government’s annual show of solidarity with the Palestinian people. In speaking out in support of human rights for Palestinians while continuing to deny them to his own people, Ahmadinejad provoked the largest opposition protests since mid-July.
Amid the greatest unrest Iran has seen since the Islamic Revolution, the world’s attention is not on the false arrests, show trials, torture and illegal detentions in Iran. Rather, the central issue that the international community has chosen to focus on, apart from Ahmadinejad’s persistent holocaust denial, has been that of the Iranian government’s nuclear capacities.
Given the fact that the US and Israel combined have at least a thousand times as many nukes as Iran could potentially be hiding, the possibility of a nuclear attack by Iran, no matter how misguided its president, is highly unlikely.
What is likely, however, is a continued crackdown on opposition leaders, activists and journalists inside Iran. The international community would be better served to concern itself more with these internal Iranian developments than with uranium enrichment today because the best hope for a non-nuclear Iran is a free Iran.
And the greatest assets the world has in ridding the country of hard-liners such as Ahmadinejad are the Iranian people themselves. Foreign intervention, military or otherwise, cannot hold a candle to the potential power of the Iranian people to bring down this regime.
The best way for the international community to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the Iranian regime is to refuse to fall into Ahmadinejad’s trap. The world has a lot more to gain by focusing on the plight of the Iranian opposition, rather than the empty threats and rhetoric of their illegitimate leader.
The sanctions of the past 30 years and Iran’s present resolve on the nuclear issue are proof that the Iranian government does not respond well to the winds of international pressure, especially when they’re blowing in from the west.
But the regime cannot last long without the support of its own people, and by continuing to restrict the basic civil liberties of Iranian citizens, the allegedly Islamic Republic is digging its own grave.
When Ahmadinejad takes the stage on Wednesday in New York, I expect to hear a lot of the same rhetoric that has made him infamous around the world. But by focusing on his moronic holocaust denials and tirades against the West instead of his brutality toward his own people, world leaders will only be playing into the hands of a desperate dictator.