Ali Ali Infree!

“Iran’s atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi officially took charge on Saturday as the Islamic republic’s new foreign minister.  …   Salehi, who continues to head Iran’s atomic energy body, took charge officially at a function which was also the farewell ceremony for his predecessor Manouchehr Mottaki.”

Since Lunghu hasn’t yet seen a tremendous amount of insightful analysis explaining what Salehi’s appointment  means for the future of international relations with the Persian Republic, allow him to offer a succinct encapsulation of the why and wherefore:

It’s the best way –and possibly the only way– of keeping the guy alive.   After all, if your adversaries won’t stop at the kidnap and murder of your country’s scientists, perhaps they will balk at assassinating your foreign minister:  that generally isn’t done in Western society, because it essentially puts every diplomat’s life –everywhere–  at risk.   In the Iranian calculus, A-A Salehi is undoubtedly Number One on the Israeli-US-Saudi hit parade, and this appointment is an attempt to place him above and beyond the dirty war we and our “allies” are conducting in the shadows.

But there’s more to Salehi’s appointment than just self-preservation.  As Sun Tzu will tell you, every seemingly defensive move can also contain offensive potential.  On the one hand, there’s the symbolic significance embodied by the man himself:  Salehi’s given name, Ali Akbar,  is a resounding affirmation of Shiite faith and of the nation’s righteous, divinely-guided cause.   That is a big reason why he has the support of Iran’s decision-making clerics.   As Iran’s foreign minister, Salehi won’t merely be speaking for Ahmadinejad, but on behalf of the nation and Shiites everywhere.

Furthermore, this is also a warning to Russian Israeli FM Avigdor Liberman, the man who famously said (in his inaugural speech as foreign minister, no less):  “… even if we had wanted to, we would have been unable to prevent peace.” Salehi’s appointment pretty clearly signals that if he is assassinated, Liberman himself is a dead man.   It remains to be seen whether the personal consequences will restrain in any way restrain Avi’s ardor for conflagration.   It will also be interesting to see how long it takes for Hillary Clinton to get the message.

In any event, it is clearly in the United States’ interest to help keep Ali Akbar Salehi alive:  you don’t want to assassinate an MIT grad and piss off the entire alumni network.   Who do you think builds all your weapons systems?

Why is this man smiling?

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