President George W. Bush heads the most powerful nuclear power on earth. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad heads a nation struggling to have its way to continue its nuclear program, which is apparently close to being weaponized. His and Iran’s ambitions are troubling the world—with good reason.
President Bush heads a great democracy that champions personal freedom. President Ahmadinejad heads an Islamic republic that controls many aspects of the lives of its citizens.
Bush was elected in a free popular vote. Ahmadinejad was chosen by Iran’s “Supreme Leader” (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and conservative mullahs; Ahmadinejad reportedly spent nothing on his election campaign, which the mullahs funded.
Bush is the U.S. commander-in-chief. Ahmadinejad is subject to the Ayatollah Khamenei, as well as to the Guardian Council, a 12-member body of clerics. And Khamenei added an additional oversight body recently, the Expediency Council, which is led by none other than Hasemi Rafsanjani, the man Ahmadinejad just defeated for the presidency! Imagine, for the sake of comparison, a religious kingmaker in American politics who selected George W. Bush to be president instead of his principal opponent, John F. Kerry, only to subsequently appoint Mr. Kerry to oversee Mr. Bush’s presidency a few months after the election!
Shimon Peres, who was then the Israeli deputy prime minister, offered this frank assessment of Ahmadinejad’s election: “Neither the primaries nor the recent round of elections were free, and were contests between extremists. The candidates were pre-determined, as were the results … The conclusion is that the dangerous combination of extremists, non-conventional weapons and isolation from the West will continue, and will generate a great deal of problems for the free world” (“Iran Poll Result: World Reaction,” BBC, June 25, 2005).
Peres’ words could prove true, as we watch for the alignment of nations spoken of by Daniel the prophet: “And at the end-time, the king of the south shall butt at … the king of the north [who] shall come against him like a tempest, with chariots and with horsemen and with many ships” (Daniel 11:40 Daniel 11:40And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
American King James Version×, Modern King James Version).
Surprisingly, there are many parallels between Mr. Bush and Mr. Ahmadinejad. Neither is a career politician. Bush graduated from Yale and went on to complete an MBA at Harvard. Ahmadinejad holds a Ph.D. in traffic and transportation from the University of Science and Technology in Tehran. Neither avenue is a typical pathway to high office in their respective countries.
President Bush won election twice by narrow margins (in the state-by-state electoral count) and he deals with a highly polarized country, nearly evenly divided for and against him. Ahmadinejad “won” by a wide margin in the second round of voting, but a national poll shows that nearly 40 percent of all Iranians regret not going to the polls to vote against him (Farshid Motahari, “Ahmadinejad Seeks ‘New Islamic Wave’ in Iran,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Nov. 13, 2005). Since four out of six of those who did go to the polls voted against him (there were seven candidates in the first round), crunching the numbers shows that Iranians are similarly divided over their president.
When he was a presidential candidate, Bush was asked who was his favorite philosopher. “Jesus Christ,” was his quick and bold reply. The strong support of conservative Christians was a key factor in his presidential election victories. His religious zeal and his conservative religious constituency invite frequent criticism. It also causes U.S. foreign policy to be viewed as “Christian policy” in the Islamic world.
Mr. Ahmadinejad is a devout (Shia) Muslim. His speeches are filled with references to his religious philosophy. He, too, would not be president today if it were not for his conservative backers in Iran’s religious community. And, surprisingly for Iran, this has provoked some open criticism. Rafsanjani blasted the mullahs for their interference in the election.
Terror his tool of choice
It is disturbing to learn that the Iranian president is so much at ease with terrorism that he was surprised at the world’s reaction to his “eliminate Israel” speech last October, explaining that he was only repeating a statement made over a quarter century ago by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (who preceded the current supreme leader, Khamenei).
In his audience were representatives of the Palestinian terrorist groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who also addressed the assembly of 4,000 students from the Iranian Students’ Society at the annual “World Without Zionism” conference. The speeches blatantly supported and recruited Palestinian terrorists.
Less reported from Ahmadinejad’s speech were his comments about a historic clash between the West and Islam. He referred to the West as “the World of Arrogance” and “the hegemonic and arrogant system.” He declared that Israel is a “bridge” that “the World of Arrogance” is using to dominate the Islamic world, urging his listeners to realize that the goal of “a world without America and without Zionism … surely can be achieved.”
He blasted Pakistan for recognizing Israel, warning that “the ones who do … are standing in front of Islamic nations and that this is an unforgivable crime” and that “whoever does will burn ‘in the fires of our Islamic rage’ ” (Ijaz Hussain, “Thus Spake Ahmadinejad,” The [Pakistan] Daily Times, Nov. 9, 2005). He refers to a “historic war” between Islam and the non-Islamic world, dating back hundreds of years. He envisions an Islamic Iran leading the Muslim world to victory in this war of civilizations.
Even under the comparative “moderate” Iranian administrations that preceded Ahmadinejad’s, Iran’s “primary instrument of advancing its foreign policy objectives has been terrorism or the threat of it” (“Ahmadinejad’s Terror Policy Must Be Fought,” The American Thinker, Nov. 16, 2005).
Ahmadinejad plainly sees terrorism as advancing his objectives for Iran. Four days after his “destroy Israel” speech, “the Associated Press reported that about 300 men and women, motivated by Ahmadinejad’s remarks, turned up … at a state-sponsored event to volunteer for suicide bomb attacks” (ibid.).
Ahmadinejad cannot be ignored
Clearly, Ahmadinejad is a man to be reckoned with, and his firebrand messages appeal to the revolutionary-minded. Indeed, he repeatedly calls for “a worldwide Islamic revolution,” which he believes Iran and, presumably, he would lead. Supreme Leader Khamenei seems to have some misgivings about his protégé, and he is quietly shifting negotiations over the nuclear issue to the rival Rafsanjani. Parliament is far from rubber-stamping the new president’s decisions, having rejected three nominees in succession for the post of oil minister.
A former deputy in the previous government, Rajabali Mazrouei, rebuked Ahmadinejad for his “eliminate Israel” speech, calling it “irresponsible” and “illogical,” adding, “Ahmadinejad is not even familiar with the world of politics” (“Ahmadinejad’s Israel Remarks Split Iran,” Leading the Charge, leadingthecharge.com, Oct. 31, 2005).
But Ahmadinejad will not be easily controlled. When Iran’s ambassadors sought to soothe the international community after his Oct. 26 speech, he promptly dismissed 40 of them—nearly half their total number!
Supreme Leader Khamenei promotes an evolutionary pace of change, in contrast to the revolution for which Ahmadinejad has been calling. Rising in power within Iran with the new president are a number of radical clerics and organizations, including Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Yazdi, a rival to Khamenei. Yazdi in turn is working to place his radical protégés in the Assembly of Experts, which is the only power that can remove and replace Khamenei. The obvious possibility for the new supreme leader is Yazdi.
What responsive chords will Ahmadinejad strike in other Islamic nations or in the broader Muslim community? Will he succeed in igniting a worldwide Islamic revolution, driven by terrorism?
President Bush leads a crusade (a word he dropped from his speeches, due to its provocative nature) against terror. He is careful to say it is not against Islam, but men like Ahmadinejad are trying to make the two synonymous. That could prove true if Islam uses terrorism as its policy muscle.
Because Iran is, to this point, intractable in its demand to develop nuclear power, and because it produces the second highest amount of oil in OPEC, neither it nor its new president can be ignored.
Back to Daniel’s enigmatic prediction. He spoke of two geopolitical configurations, kings of the south and north. It’s too soon to tell whether Ahmadinejad will become the first “king,” but it is possible that the group backing that king of the south could well be some form of the Islamic ummah (community). However, the nation(s) backing the king of the north will not be America. How do we know this? To see and study the scriptures that speak of these intriguing matters, request our booklets The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy and The Middle East in Bible Prophecy. WNP