Ronen Bergman is one of Israel's leading investigative journalists. The senior security and intelligence correspondent and analyst for Israel's largest daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, and an anchor on a leading Israeli television news program, he is the author of three bestselling books published in Israel. He was awarded a PhD by Cambridge University for his dissertation about the Israeli Mossad.
Question: Are the actions of Ahmedinajad rational?Ronen Bergman: Ahmadinejad is causing great damage to Iran. In fact, he’s causing so much damage that there’s a joke in Israeli intelligence saying that Ahmadinejad is the best mole that Mossad has ever had in Iran. That, in fact, his name is Isaac. He is a Jew from Tel Aviv and he was put there as a favor for the Israeli Foreign Ministry because, really, he’s the best dream any Israeli diplomat could get.
He is defaming Iran every day. Israeli intelligence have reports about meetings that Ahmadinejad had with Ali Larijani, who was the Iranian envoy, to discuss the nuclear issues with the diplomatic community, with Europeans, and basically tried to say, “We are not building a bomb. This is a peaceful nuclear project for energy and we are a peace loving country.”
And he came to Ahmadinejad and he said, “Shut the fuck up. Please shut up. You are destroying everything that I’m trying to do, because while I’m trying to say that we are not going to attack anyone, especially not Israel, you are saying that Israel should be taken off the face of the earth, and you deny the Holocaust,” which is, like, the most sensitive point that Ahmadinejad could ever touch.
I’m afraid of Ahmadinejad. A person who claims to have direct interface with god, a person who is positive that he saw an aura every time that he addresses the UN General Assembly, and not just that, he is positive that everybody in the audience saw the same aura, makes me tick. I’m afraid of such person.
Yet, he is not the one in charge in Iran. The number one in Iranian hierarchy is Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader.
Who is in charge of what? How does this mechanism work? I don’t know, and I don’t think that anyone knows.
It is very different from the Iraq of Saddam Hussein where practically everything was happening between his left and right ear.
Iran would compete, with the complexity of its political system, I think only with Pakistan. And Iran is very hard to understand. Nobody really understands what happens there. But at the end of the day, this regime continues to rule, has no alternative, no competition, not a likely coming regime change.
What worries me about Ahmadinejad is not the fact that there’s someone called Ahmadinejad that says these things, but the fact that he’s allowed to say it. Ahmadinejad represent a big faction of the revolution. He has his Ayatollah called Ayatollah Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi from Qom, which believes that the [Mahdi], the Messiah, should come but only after a very big Armageddon war, which means it’s going to be much worse before its going to be better.
And the main parts, chunks of the Iranian bureaucracy revolutionary guards who support him, which basically suggest that the Iranian regime is going to a most extreme line.
Recorded: Sep 19, 2008