Friday, April 13, 2012

Tabassum Zakaria at a loss to understand Iran's Supreme Leader

Reuters correspondent Tabassum Zakaria is utterly mystified.  Just what is driving Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei?
(Reuters) - When U.S. officials join talks this weekend about Iran's nuclear program, they will be armed with profiles developed by intelligence agencies offering insight into what makes foreign leaders tick.  [...]
Former U.S. officials and Iran experts say Khamenei has a deep-rooted suspicion of the West and a streak of insecurity - he rose to power due to his loyalty to the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini rather than lofty religious credentials.
A sense of inferiority has dogged him over the years and it would be especially important for Khamenei to be seen as not folding under Western pressure to reach an agreement, they said.
In an inadvertently hilarious story, Zakaria spends nearly 1,200 words scratching her head while she cites various intelligence analysts, psychiatrists, and heads of think tanks advising Vice-President Joe Biden, in an effort to divine the mysterious motivations of the Ayatollah:
But even if the United States had great access to Iran, the intentions of one man are not easy to discern.
"It's important to keep in mind that these analysts are trying to assess complex human beings, including all the outside factors that might influence them," the U.S. official said.
One question about Khamenei's intentions is his stated view that nuclear weapons are a sin.
Some experts shrug it off, saying the Iranian leader could issue a new religious edict if it suits a changing circumstance.
But Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA analyst, sees the proclamation as a potentially hopeful sign for nuclear talks.
"It gives him an out," said Pillar, a Georgetown University professor. "He is on record as having made a statement that would not make it shameful or a sign of weakness to come to an understanding with the West ... that clearly rules out a nuclear weapon."
While Khamenei says Iran does not seek nuclear weapons, he has insisted that others respect Iran's civilian nuclear rights.
Standing up for injustice and for Iran's rights is central to how he looks at the nuclear issue and should be considered in how the West frames its approach so that it allows him to save face, a former U.S. government Middle East expert said.  [...] 
"On the one hand we see him as a figure who doesn't really trust the international system, doesn't trust the United States, but he is also not extremely reckless," said Laipson, a former vice chair of the National Intelligence Council.
1,200 words of mental masturbation and nary a mention of Khamenei's many explicit threats to annihilate Israel and exterminate the Jewish people.

Memo to Tabassum and her psychological "experts": sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

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