How sincere is the Islamic Republic towards Palestine? And what are some of the real reasons Tehran allegedly backs a resolution of the Middle East conflict?
During a campaign speech at the University of Uroomiyeh in northwestern Iran a few months before the June presidential election there, Mir Hossein Moussavi, the main reformist presidential candidate and now opposition leader, was interrupted by angry groups of basiji, the regime’s paramilitary enforcers, carrying pictures of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Palestinian flags. “I see the root of some [of our] problems in this hall,” Moussavi said when he saw the flags. “For instance some people are carrying a Palestinian flag. Though we like Palestine, we are in Iran and the province of Azerbaijan…. I stepped into the campaign exactly to confront this [kind of] radicalism.” Mousavi’s loss in what was widely believed to have been a rigged election brought hundreds of thousands of demonstrators to the streets, many of whom could be heard chanting, “No Gaza, no Lebanon, I sacrifice my life for Iran.”
Might Iran’s relationship with Israel change if the democratic opposition comes to power? Though the so-called Green Movement, the pro-democracy protesters who took to the streets after the disputed election, represents a significant development in Iran’s politics, the answer is far from clear. What is unmistakable, however, is that a large swath of Iran’s population no longer accepts at face value the statements of the Islamic Republic’s leaders, who have said the Jewish State must be “wiped off the map.”