Via the Standard, “external spokesman” Mohsen Makhmalbaf sounds off. In a week marked mostly by deafening silence from the White House, it’s astounding that The One still somehow managed to offend the great hope of the Iranian freedom movement. Note to Barry: If a guy’s supporters are known for chanting “Death to the dictator” about Ahmadinejad, there are probably a few pertinent differences between the two.
FP: There has been growing criticism here in Washington that U.S. President Barack Obama hasn’t said or done enough to support those demonstrating in the streets of Iran. Do you think Obama is being too careful? Or even that he is helping Ahmadinejad by being cautious?
MM: Obama has said that there is no difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. Does he like it himself [when someone is] saying that there is no difference between Obama and [George W.] Bush? Ahmadinejad is the Bush of Iran. And Mousavi is the Obama of Iran…
FP: Would Mousavi be willing to accept some sort of power-sharing arrangement? Say, Ahmadinejad remains as president but Mousavi becomes prime minister once again?
MM: This is not a solution, because people do not want Ahmadinejad at any level. He is so illiterate that — the millions of people in the street — he called them trash. And now, people are telling him: You are trash.
FP: Does Mousavi have a message that he’d like to deliver to the international community?
MM: [He asks] that the governments [of the world] pay attention to the people in the streets and do not recognize the government of Ahmadinejad as the representative of Iran — [that they] do not recognize the government of Ahmadinejad as a legitimate government. Iran is a very important country in the region, and the changes in Iran could have an influence everywhere. So as a result, it’s not only an internal matter — it’s an international problem. If Iran could be a democratic Islamic country, that would be a pattern, a role model, for other Islamic countries. And even if Iran has a terrorist image [today], it would be a model for other countries [in the future].
Elsewhere in the interview, he claims that Iranians don’t want nuclear weapons, which may or may not be true in light of recent polling. Exit question: How much of this is serious and how much hot air aimed at winning western support in the short term? The only way Mousavi would have latitude to abandon the nuke program in exchange for lifting all economic sanctions is if the regime comes fully apart at the seams, with the fundamentalist element — including the Revolutionary Guard — largely liquidated. How likely is that?