Once again, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has used the United Nations podium to churn out his misinformation and half-truths. And once again, the American media accepted his invitation for a fancy luncheon afterwards, enabling a ruthless murderer to wage his not-so-charm offensive. Apparently, some media outlets just want Ahmadinejad to say something, anything, as long as they get their story.
Has no one learned anything from the free passes provided to Ahmadinejad’s allies, such as Moammar Qaddafi of Libya and Bashar Assad of Syria?
Ahmadinejad allocated almost the entirety of his speech to just about anything unrelated to the clerical rulers of Iran. He talked about flooding in Pakistan, famine in Somalia, how a large percentage of the world’s population earns so little, and how a small percentage of the world’s population has so much. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Next he took on an authoritative posture, portraying himself as an engineer who knows that the two planes that hit the Twin Towers could not have brought those buildings down. (Huh!) Of course, one might wonder when he practiced his sophisticated engineering skills, in that he has spent pretty much all of his adult life first as a chief thug, organizing hooligans to attack and beat up students in the early days after the revolution, then as a notorious torturer in Evin prison, and later as a commander of the terrorist Qods Force during the Iran-Iraq war.
But what is more important is what Ahmadinejad did not address. He addressed numerous problems around the world, held America responsible for much of the world’s misery, but did not talk about the Arab Spring; no mention of Libya, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, or Yemen.
He attacked world powers for intervening in other countries’ affairs, but stayed off the topic of his Revolutionary Guards’ helping Bashar Assad to violently suppress the revolt in Syria; and avoided details of how his regime used violence, bribery, intimidation, and blackmail to put Iraq’s defeated Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki back in office and deny the winning candidate, Ayad Allawi, a substantive role in the political process in Iraq.
Nor did he mention his use of proxies in the Iraqi Government to kill dozens of Iranian dissidents and former political prisoners who had taken refuge across the border in Camp Ashraf, Iraq in 2009 and 2011. No wonder that while most of the delegations left the General Assembly Hall when Ahmadinejad started speaking, the Iraqi delegation remained, cheering him on.
Ahmadinejad expressed concern about three billion people in the world not earning enough to live, but failed to mention the fact that as many as 80 percent of the Iranian population live below the poverty line; the official figures put it at 55 percent. He attacked the West for making exorbitant profits, but said nothing about his own closest allies in Iran, the ruling clerics and their cronies, who are plundering billions of dollars, dominating the nation’s industry, and running or taking a cut from all business in the country.
And lastly, he said nothing about the rising rate of executions in Iran, this year’s numbers close to 490 so far, higher even than last year. Since he spoke at the last General Assembly session, his State Security Forces and the Iranian Judiciary have sentenced to death or already executed more Iranian dissidents whose only crime was peaceful participation in the anti-government demonstrations in Iran.
But let’s not be picky about the facts. Especially since again this year, prominent American media were invited to a fancy lunch after his ranting at the UN, for a taste of more of his rhetoric. The attendees are expected to throw him soft balls, and some went so far as to praise Ahmadinejad for being impressive, “well-prepared,” and speaking “confidently.”
But while Ahmadinejad spoke inside the UN, and hosted some journalists, the story outside was very different. He may be able to suppress the voices of dissent in Iran, escalate violence in Iraq, help Assad quash dissent in Syria, and defy international demands to desist enriching uranium, but in New York he was confronted by thousands of Iranian-Americans, who called him a murderer and insisted that he is not representative of the Iranian people.
That should have grabbed the headlines.