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Ahmadinejad’s UN Speech: His Main Target Audience

By: Meir Javedanfar

23/09/2008

As President Ahmadinejad makes his address to the UN General Assembly today, many will be asking: has anything changed since 2005, when he made his first visit.

In terms of his own career, president Ahmadinejad is more unpopular with ordinary Iranians. Under his term, life is becoming more difficult for them. If it wasn’t for the support of Ayatollah Khamenei, he would not have had the influence which he yields today.

However, despite his domestic unpopularity, the main targets of his speech will be the audience at home, and not that of the US or Israel.

Abroad, his statements have already made their mark. His constant attacks against against US and Israel have reached saturation point. Further verbal attacks are not going to have a major impact, even though this is the most likely path he will take.

Even if Ahmadinejad does the opposite by sounding conciliatory, it won’t do him much good. The recent unfavorable IAEA report about Iran, including one in which Tehran was accused of testing missile warheads which could carry a nuclear load, have made it difficult to avert further isolation of his country’s nuclear program.

One area where can have an impact today is domestic politics. Presidential elections are around the corner. As he speaks today, his biggest target will be moderate conservatives and reformist groups inside Iran.

His hope will be that one the one hand, by representing Iran and himself on such an important platform as the UN, and on the other by lambasting the West whose moderate policies the reformists and moderate conservatives depend on, he will be able to present himself to the Supreme Leader as the only suitable candidate to win the presidency again.

Whether or not he will succeed is another matter, which will be decided thousands of miles away from the UN, in the byzantine corridors of power in Tehran.


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