Thursday, December 21, 2006

Looking A Tad Less Fearsome These Days, Ain't You

President Ahmadinejad spent part of Thursday mocking President Bush at a speech delivered in Western Iran.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday mocked President Bush and said Iran's nuclear program was a source of inspiration for other nations.

His typically outspoken remarks came after Bush said the Iranian president was out of step with the rest of the world and U.N. diplomats said a draft resolution imposing sanctions on Tehran for its atomic work should be approved on Friday.

Addressing a rally in western Iran, Ahmadinejad urged Bush to "step out of your glass palace and go to your people to see how isolated you are, not only across the world but also in your own country."
This would have been so much less transparent had Ahmadinejad not just received a thumpin' in the recent elections in Iran, a thumpin' he has yet to acknowledge. And of course, the Iranian Press Corps does not challenge him to do so.

No, in typical fashion, it is far better to give a belligerent speech accusing President Bush of all manner of ills and to ignore his own extreme unpopularity at home.

That way, everyone present can have a good time demonizing Bush. But it certainly looks a lot more hollow to observers abroad.

UPDATE: And there's plenty of reasons for Ahmadinejad to adopt the cocky tone at home, to deflect the Iranian audience from their own problems, including a bad economy despite the oil revenues:

Iran’s oil minister on Wednesday admitted that Tehran was having trouble financing oil projects, in a rare acknowledgment of the economic cost of its nuclear dispute.

“Currently, overseas banks and financiers have decreased their co-operation,” Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh told the oil ministry news agency, Shana.

The statement underlined the impact of de facto financial sanctions on the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ second biggest oil producer. As the controversy over Iran’s nuclear programme has escalated, the US has applied pressure on European banks and financial institutions to curb dealings with Tehran.

The fact that the UN Security Council could soon impose the first – even if mild – sanctions against Iran has compounded the political uncertainty and risks of doing business with Tehran. Iranian officials insist there is international interest in investing in Iran’s oil industry and European executives play down any impact on companies seeking deals in Iran.

In other Iranian related news, the UK has charged a British soldier who had been stationed in Afghanistan, with passing confidential information about British military activity in Afghanistan to Iran. Corporal Daniel James is fluent in Pashtun, and acts as an interpreter for Lieutenant-General David Richards, the British commander of the Nato forces in Afghanistan.

The full charge read out at court was that on November 2 this year, for a purpose prejudicial to the safety of the State, Daniel James “communicated to another person information calculated to be directly or indirectly useful to the enemy”.

The charge was under Section 1 (1)(c) of the Official Secrets Act 1911 which says that “if any person for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State obtains or communicates to any other person any sketch, plan, model, article or note, or other document or information which is calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy”, he shall be guilty of a felony and liable to imprisonment for not less than three years and not exceeding seven years.

UPDATE II: According to the Telegraph, Corporal Daniel James is of Iranian descent.
Neighbours at his £800,000 house in Brighton, said his mother speaks only Farsi, the main language of Iran.

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