Shakespeare wrote "Hell is empty, and all devils are here." He could have been writing about the Middle East.
Ancient Persia extended from the Persian Gulf, to the Caspian Sea to the Euphrates River; with dominion over Egypt and Greece. Cyrus the Great conquered the Babylonian Empire, and was welcomed by the Jews, as he respected various religions. The U N declared that the first human rights document was from the rule of Cyrus, 540 BC.
Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown and Persia became the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. Iran sits on the Persian Gulf between Iraq and Pakistan, the size of Alaska. Supreme Ayatollah Khomeini became the Chief of State and established theocratic Shia Islamic law. After the embassy hostage situation the US cut relations and Iran is designated as a terrorist state.
President Barak Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to give Tehran continued nuclear diplomacy until after the Iranian Presidential Elections in June, 2013. The P5 + 1 (US, Russia, France, UK, China, and Germany) is negotiating with Tehran. This affords Ayatollah Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard a strong appearance during the election campaign; not making concessions on the nuclear program. According to Debkafile sources, Ayatollah Khamenei offered Obama a similar courtesy during his presidential campaign. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are at odds in this election.
Publically Netanyahu agreed to the June date, in spite of Israel’s concern regarding Iran’s nuclear capabilities. He said "The clock is ticking. There must be a clear and credible threat of military action." Obama said "There is still time for diplomacy. But Iran must know this. Time is not unlimited. Whatever time is left, there's not a lot of time. All options are on the table. Each country has to make its own decisions when it comes to engaging in military action. And Israel is differently situated than the United States."
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's televised response to the Netanyahu/Obama announcement was "At times the officials of the Zionist regime threaten to launch a military invasion. But they themselves know that if they make the slightest mistake, the Islamic Republic will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground."
Ahmadinejad made the following comments regarding his vision for the new world order:
• The United States is following an international policy of bullying. The system of empires has reached the end of the road. The U.S. and the traditional powers play a smaller role and every country has equal standing - with the exception of Israel.
• None of the three nuclear powers in Iran’s neighborhood --Israel, Pakistan, and India -- has signed the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. Iran condemns the double standard. Iran will keep its right to scientific progress and proceed with its nuclear program.
Khamemei backed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 Presidential election, with massive protests by the Green Movement. Dozens were killed, thousands arrested and tortured to suppress the movement.
Traditionally no one could become President without the Ayatollah’s approval. Ahmadinejad cannot run again after two consecutive terms, and wants his own protégé in the office. Is Ahmadinejad trying a Putin? He backs his brother in law, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. In four years he could return to Presidency. The Ayatollah backs candidates Saeed jalili and Ali Larijani. High profile mudslinging between Ahmadinejad and Larijani and other contenders close to the Khamenei family continues. Citizens vote for candidates that have been approved by the Guardian Council, which can veto any candidate. Reformist candidates remain under house arrest.
Ahmadinejad is the first non clerical president. He separated Mosque and state, making Khamenei the spiritual figure; and increasing power of the President. A devote Muslim, Ahmadinejad glorifies pre Islamic civilizations, and enrages Khamenei and many Islamic clerics.
Iranian media is under attack. There have been public lashings and executions of journalists across the country. Two months ago 12 journalists were arrested for being part of a network to destabilize the country. Khamenei does not want a repeat of the 2009 demonstrations, and is cracking down in advance. Ahmadinejad allies have been jailed. Ali Akbar Javanfekr was jailed for writing an article questioning the mandatory hijab Islamic dress for women.
At the funeral of anti American Venezuelan Hugo Chavez, Ahmadinejad said Chavez would be resurrected with Jesus Christ, and The Perfect Human (Shiite Islam’s 12th Imam). In Tehran these comments were denounced as heresy. On the airwaves clerics castigated Ahmadinejad and reminded Iranians that Chavez was not a Muslim. Clerics raged. It was headline news with front page photos of Ahmadinejad touching the hands of Chavez’s mother in violation of Islamic law. Men cannot touch any unrelated female.
The anti Israeli, anti American, pro nuclear pot boils in Iranian political circles. "All the World’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances and one man in his time plays many parts." Which parts will Netanyahu, Obama, Ahmadinejad, and Khamenei play on the world stage?