Rainbow - or Guns of August?

Article excerpt

Byline: Arnaud de Borchgrave, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Back in October 2005, two months after he had become president, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - or as Jay Leno calls the tongue-twister, I'm-a-dinner-jacket - drew world attention when he called for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Denials were slow in coming. Various Iranian experts said he had been misquoted when he painted the broad brush strokes of history when a purely Jewish state would cease to exist.

The banners in English where he spoke said, "The World Without Zionism." Below the poster was a slick graphic depicting an hourglass containing planet Earth at its top. Two small round orbs representing the United States and Israel were shown falling through the hourglass' narrow neck and crashing to the bottom.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's quote, the "Information Clearing House" informed us, was itself a quote from the late Ayatollah Khomeini, father of the Islamic Revolution: "The Zionist regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time." The word "map" was nowhere to be found.

This week, the diminutive Iranian president left no room for ambiguity, He predicted Muslims would uproot "satanic powers" and that Israel will soon disappear. The Mehr news agency (MNA), affiliated with the Islamic Propagation Organization, quoted Mr. Ahmadinejad saying, "I must announce that the Zionist regime [Israel], with a 60-year record of genocide, plunder, invasion and betrayal is about to die and will soon be erased from the geographical scene. Today, the time for the fall of the satanic power of the United States has come and the countdown to the annihilation of the emperor of power and wealth has started."

Speaking to a group of foreign visitors ahead of the 19th anniversary of the death of founder Ruhollah Khomeini, Mr. Ahmadinejad was on another verbal roll when he added, "I tell you that with the unity and awareness of all the Islamic countries all the satanic powers will soon be destroyed."

How is that to happen? Mr. Ahmadinejad's apocalyptic vision of the return to Earth of the Mahdi, the 12th imam of Shi'ite Islam (a 5-year-old boy who went into "occultation" 11 centuries ago), could be in the 52-year-old president's lifetime. But not before widespread global death and destruction. Then a bright new era for humanity would rise from the ashes, as the Mahdi returns, along with his companions, including Jesus Christ.

Mr. Ahmadinejad is a former member of Al Quds, the revolutionary guards special forces that have been smuggling mortars, rockets and components for EFPs - explosively formed projectiles that fire a slug of molten metal that penetrates armored vehicles.

Alarming, too, was last week's deal that followed the Syrian defense minister's visit to Tehran. Syria's missile units are to be integrated under Al Quds' missile section.

Western diplomats who have dealt with him found comfort in the election of Ali Larijani as speaker of Iran's parliament, who persuaded the president's candidate to step aside.

An archrival of Mr. Ahmadinejad, the new speaker, in his inaugural address, praised Lebanon's Hezbollah, and castigated the International Atomic Energy Agency. …