ERVAND ABRAHAMIAN [Professor of Middle Eastern and Iranian history at Baruch College, City Univ. of New York]: … [The] U.S. has been really on a collision course with Iran ever since the axis of evil speech. And the collisions, in a way, been delayed because of the quagmire in Iraq, but this election in Tehran [will] put the collision course back on course.

The elected president [Ahmadinejad] [won’t prioritize] relations with either Europe or United States. He is much more of a nationalist. He’s very committed to a strong Iran, protecting Iran’s interests around its borders. He’s very committed to nuclear energy, not necessarily nuclear bombs, but nuclear energy. All of these are going to basically heat up the tensions with United States.


AMY GOODMAN: What about Rumsfeld saying this is a completely illegitimate election … people were disqualified?


ERVAND ABRAHAMIAN: [S]tatements like that actually helped the conservatives get elected.

One of the main conservative ministers actually thanked Bush for his disparaging comments about the elections, and I suspect in the second round, a lot of people [voted to] protest Bush’s and the administration’s disparaging statements.

After all, no elections are absolutely free in that everyone can run, but there were six candidates running, which last time I looked at the American elections is at least four more than we usually get. So there was a choice for the electorate, so to dismiss it as a sham for Iranians [is not just ignorant], it’s a very sort of imperialistic disparaging comment on the Iranian system.

And I think most Iranian patriots would have really been pissed off at what Washington was saying.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you see military confrontation between the U.S. and Iran in the near future, Professor Abrahamian? [Answer below … and it’s a must-read.]


ERVAND ABRAHAMIAN: Yes. I think that the neo-cons have made it no secret for years that they want to deal with Iran. And they clearly — one idea was somehow the public was — they’re going to become American-loving and all love-dovey with United States and give up the nuclear program, and so on. That’s obviously been shattered.

And there’s, I think, — they already have basically blueprints about military strikes for the nuclear installations. They also have plans, what they call elite decapitation, which would be surgical strikes at ministries of the top people.

And that would be basically a sort of slippery slope they would start on. They would think that doing that that would prevent Iran developing the nuclear program, not taking into account that Iran also has its own cards it could play. If that was done, if any military action was implemented, I think that the Iranians would use the cards they have, which is in Afghanistan and Iraq, both areas, they have actually great advantages. They could unravel the already bad position the United States is in those countries, completely unravel it.

All they have to do is give the green light to Sadr in southern Iraq to have a Shia revolt. He has been itching to do that with a lot of help from his friends from across the border in Iran.


AMY GOODMAN: Who?


ERVAND ABRAHAMIAN: Sadr. Sadr. That you would have a Shia revolt in the south on top of a Sunni revolt. And that would completely undermine the U.S. position there.

In Afghanistan, there is actually one of the old warlords who was against the Taliban, Hekmatyar, who the Iranians tried to encourage to support and work with the Karzai administration, but he refused to do that and went on his own into the mountains. And he would be quite eager to get Iranian help, if the Iranians decided to change policy in Iraq.

It’s often forgotten here that Iran has actually done everything it can so far to help United States in both Iraq and Afghanistan. And if there’s a confrontation, military confrontation, there would be no reason for them to cooperate with United States. They would do exactly what would be in their interests, which would be to destroy the U.S. position in those two countries.


You can watch, listen to or read the entire interview at Democracy Now!. The interview includes Norman Solomon, just back from Tehran.


Ervand Abrahamian is a Professor of Middle Eastern and Iranian history at Baruch College, City University of New York. He is the author of several books on Iran including “Khomeinism: Essays on the Islamic Republic” and “The Iranian Mojahedin.”

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