Friday, January 20, 2012

IMRA - Can We Bet On The Messianics Not Controlling The Button In Iran?

Dr. Aaron Lerner..
Weekly Commentary..
19 January '12..

Professor Meir Litvak is the director of the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University. He recently participated as the Iranian leadership in a simulation reported in "Iran: A Strategic Simulation" by Yoel Guzansky and Yonathan Lerner, Institute for National Security Studies.

As the Iranian in the simulation he acted to use the possession of nuclear weapons as a source of leverage rather than as a device with which to incinerate Israel.

I asked Professor Litvak if, as the "Iranian" in the simulation, if being a "Twelver" had any influence on his decision making process.

Some have argued that the religious desire to bring about the return of the Mahdi - even if via the creation of apocalyptic conditions - could cause an Iranian actor to take steps that in the absence of the faith would appear to be completely illogical.

Professor Litvak replied that while Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, does indeed have such a strong belief as a "Twelver" that he might detonate a nuclear weapon to bring on an apocalypse that would herald the return of the Mahdi, that Ahmadinejad doesn't have his finger on the button.

The group that would have the "button" is with the 72 year old Ayatollah Khomeini, who, though also "Twelvers", are not numbered among the "messianics" who want to accelerate the return via an apocalypse. Professor Litvak noted that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has in fact been derided by his opponents in the Iran as a "messianic".

So given that at this time it appears that Ayatollah Khomeini and his supporters have the upper hand over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is the observation that there are Iranians who would logically opt to nuke Israel even at the cost of the incineration of Iran nothing more than a curious piece of trivia?

One could certainly sleep better if that were indeed the case.

But what certainty do we really have that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or some other "messianics" won't end up, as a result of a series of unexpected events, with their fingers on the "button"?

The dramatic changes that have swept our region serve to warn us as to just how unpredictable our neighborhood is.


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