Whether Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he wants to wipe Israel off the map is still contested, even by anti-mullah Iranian-Americans. But that he wants to wipe out the Jewish state, there can be no doubt. As he completes his visits to every Iranian town, the collection of his pronunciamentos is edifying reading.
Culled from a wide variety of sources, ranging from Agence France Presse (AFP), the French national news agency, to the London Daily Telegraph, to the Suddeutsche Zeitung Online, to France's Le Monde and Liberation, Mr. Ahmadinejad spells out the target and the strategy: "This regime [Israel] will one day disappear.... The Zionist regime is a rotten tree that will be blown away by one storm.... The countdown for the destruction of Israel has begun. Zionists are the personification of Satan.
"In the case of any unwise move by the fake regime of Israel, Iran's response will be so destructive and quick the regime will regret its move forever.... The West invented the myth of the massacre of the Jews (in World War II) and placed it above Allah, religions and prophets."
Mr. Ahmadinejad's strategic recipe: "We don't shy away from declaring Islam is ready to rule the world.... The wave of the Islamist revolution will soon reach the entire world.... Our revolution's main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam, the Mahdi [a 5-year-old boy who vanished 1,100 years ago and who will lead the world into an era of peace and prosperity, but not before the planet is convulsed by death and destruction].
"Soon Islam will become the dominating force in the world, occupying first place in the number of followers among all other religions....
"Is there a craft more beautiful, more sublime, more divine, than the craft of giving yourself to martyrdom and becoming holy?... Do not doubt Allah will prevail, and Islam will conquer mountaintops of the entire world. Iran can recruit hundreds of suicide bombers a day. Suicide is an invincible weapon. Suicide bombers in this land showed us the way, and they enlighten our future.... The will to commit suicide is one of the best ways of life.
"By the grace of Allah we will be a nuclear power and Iran does not give a damn about [International Atomic Energy Agency] demands [to freeze enrichment of nuclear fuel]. Iran does not give a dam about resolutions.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has the capacity to quickly become a world superpower. Iran's enemies know your courage, faith and commitment to Islam and... Iran has created a powerful army that can powerfully defend the political borders and the integrity of the Iranian nation and cut off the hand of any aggressor and place the sign of disgrace on their forehead.
"In parallel to the official political war there is a hidden war going on and the Islamic states should benefit from their economic potential to cut off the hands of the enemies."
Addressing a conference on "The World Without Zionism," Mr. Ahmadinejad said, "To those who doubt, to those who say is it not possible, I say accomplishment of a world without America and Israel is both possible and feasible."
Hyperbole, gigantism, overkill, huckstering, hocus-pocus, all of the above. But intelligence mounts daily of Iranian efforts to undermine U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan and U.N. efforts to stem the violence in Lebanon (six U.N. peacekeepers were killed by a roadside improvised explosive device).
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's report said, "It is widely believed in Lebanon, including by the government, that the strengthening of Palestinian outposts could not have taken place without the tacit knowledge and support of the Syrian government."
Ban Ki-moon also noted Israel's claim that "the transfer of sophisticated weapons by Syria and Iran across the Lebanese-Syrian border, including long-range rockets [with a range of 250 miles]... [and] anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems, occurs on a weekly basis."
Israel also says Hezbollah "armed elements are constructing new facilities in the Bekaa Valley, including command and control centers, rocket-launching capabilities and conducting military training exercises."
There is little doubt Israel and Hezbollah are suiting up to resume last summer's 34-day war in which the Israel Defense Force came off second-best due to poor political and military leadership. Hezbollah is also shorthand for Syria and Iran. Tehran supplies the equipment and the funding. Syria acts as the transmission belt and is generously compensated.
Damascus has evidently concluded an Israeli offensive across the Golan Heights is in the offing. For the first time in 40 years, Syria dismantled military checkpoints on the road to Kuneitra on its side of the Golan. Foreign journalists were barred from covering Israeli maneuvers on the Heights. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the IDF was conducting military maneuvers — and nothing more.
One of the more plausible scenarios has Israel preparing for a drive into Syria across the Golan Heights, and then fighting a "decisive" battle with the Syrian army on the road to Damascus, followed by a left "hook" into Lebanon to execute an outflanking attack on Hezbollah. Syria has advised its citizens to leave Lebanon as soon as possible.
That could also be a strategically propitious moment for U.S. action against Iran. It remains to be seen whether the key players in President Bush's National Security Council would agree an opportunity is at hand to dust off an Air Force and Navy contingency plan to take out Iran's 23 nuclear facilities.
Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International.
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