Israeli forecasts regarding the impact of the demonstrations in Iran diverged on Wednesday, with former Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Aharon Zeevi Farkash predicting the uprising in Teheran was the beginning of the end for the ayatollah regime.A day earlier, Mossad chief Meir Dagan told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee the protests would die down in a number of days.
“What matters is the position of the [Supreme] Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenai], and this has not changed,” Dagan said. “The riots take place only in Teheran and one more region, they won’t last for long.”
Farkash disagreed and said that while it was difficult to accurately predict what would happen, the regime in Iran would never be the same. The demonstrators, he said, were protesting a number of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s policies but mainly the deteriorating economic situation.
Well, it could have been worse, you know what they say: “Two Jews three opinions.” Of course, no one knows. Personally, I used to be with Dagan but am now in the Farkash camp. But we should not forget that the crisis that led to the 1979 Shah’s abdication lasted months.
The first major demonstrations against the Shah began in January 1978. Between August and December 1978 strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the country. The shah left Iran for exile in mid-January 1979, and two weeks later Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran to a greeting by several million Iranians. The royal regime collapsed shortly after on February 11 when guerrillas and rebel troops overwhelmed troops loyal to the Shah in armed street fighting.
So, the winner will be the one with more perseverance. Indeed, one of the reasons the Western government are so reluctant to wade into the Iranian morass is the delay inherent in such an internal power struggle at a time when the nuclear clock is ticking.
That is one of the reasons El Baradei, who supports Obama’s engagement policies, came clean and admitted that Iran wants nuclear weapons. I would forget Dagan’s assessment that Iran will have a nuclear weapon weapon ready for use by 2014. That assessment does not dovetail with the high level of Western, not to mention Israeli, anxiety.
As negotiating with Ahmadinejad’s Iran is as useful as negotiating with Kim’s North Korea has proven to be, our only real home is an official or unofficial regime change. At this point, a Mousavi headed Iranian government may amount to such an unofficial change. If we are lucky such an unofficial change may only take weeks rather than months.