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Relations among world powers remain fragile after Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave a speech—laced with pointed remarks against Israel and the United States—at the United Nations-sponsored World Conference Against Racism, in Geneva, Switzerland, prompting several European envoys to walk out of the room.
Other prominent Western nations boycotted the conference altogether, due to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s name on the speaking bill.
In his speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad called Israel “the most aggressive, racist country in another territory, i.e. Palestine” and that “global Zionism is the complete symbol of racism.”
At the conference, the Iranian leader also commented that the U.S. was to blame for the current global economic crisis. He questioned the motives of the “previous ruling government of America” (the Bush administration) and attempted to show how the U.S. has utterly failed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Reaction to President Ahmadinejad’s comments frames the ongoing controversy surrounding Iran on the world stage—and could affect Iran’s national election, scheduled to take place in May 2009.
In lieu of international intervention, Israel—its military readying itself to strike—continues to say it is prepared to retaliate against Iran.
A senior Israeli defense official told The Times (London), “Israel wants to know that if its forces were given the green light they could strike at Iran in a matter of days, even hours. They are making preparations on every level for this eventuality. The message to Iran is that the threat is not just words.”
Arriving home, President Ahmadinejad received what Tehran described as a “warm welcome” (The Guardian).
Next month, though, the president faces an election, which Esquire magazine called the world’s “most important election of the year.” While the incumbent is the favorite, the outcome is not set in stone—exemplified by Mr. Ahmadinejad’s upset victory in 2005.