Sat, Jul 18, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Ahmadinejad signals tougher approach

FIERCE ATTACK The Iranian president’s tough talking is likely to disappoint the US, which has criticized the crackdown on protests following the June 12 elections

REUTERS , TEHRAN

Re-elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday his next government “would bring down the global arrogance,” signaling a tougher approach toward the West after last month’s disputed election.

“The Iranian nation elected somebody they [Iran’s enemies] did not want. The Iranian nation’s choice was their nightmare,” the hardline president told a big crowd at the country’s most prominent religious shrine in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

Ahmadinejad’s fierce attack on Tehran’s “enemies” is likely to further disappoint the US and its allies, which are trying to engage the Islamic Republic in direct talks over its nuclear program.

Western leaders have criticized a crackdown on protests that followed the June 12 presidential election, which defeated moderate candidate Mirhossein Mousavi says was rigged.

Ahmadinejad said enemies had tried to interfere and foment aggression in Iran. He said Tehran wanted “logic and negotiations,” but that Western powers had insulted the nation and should apologize.

Iranian leaders often refer to the US and its allies as the “global arrogance.”

“As soon as the new government is established, with power and authority, 10 times more than before, it will enter the global scene and will bring down the global arrogance,” Ahmadinejad said. “They should wait as a new wave of revolutionary thinking ... from the Iranian nation is on the way and we will not allow the arrogant [powers] to even have one night of good sleep.”

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, an ally of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a rival of Ahmadinejad, has stepped down from the post after 12 years, Iranian media reported, without saying whether Gholamreza Aghazadeh’s resignation was linked to the election.

In what would be his first official public appearance since the vote, Mousavi planned to attend prayers in Tehran yesterday, which were to be led by Rafsanjani, an influential cleric who backed him in the election, Mousavi’s Web site said.

Clearly reflecting concern the event may turn into a show of strength by pro-reform opponents, Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei told Fars news agency: “The vigilant Iranian nation must be aware that tomorrow’s [Friday] sermon should not turn into an arena for undesirable scenes.”

A reformist newspaper, Etemad, said Mousavi had voiced continued defiance in a meeting on Tuesday with the family of 19-year-old Sohrab Aarabi, who human rights activists say was killed during last month’s demonstrations.

Mousavi said he would join a planned group of leading figures to follow up people’s rights and “ignored” votes.

“God willing, we will all move forward in the way that we have chosen ... This is an irreversible path,” he told Aarabi’s mother, Etemad reported.

At least 20 people died in post-election violence which the authorities have portrayed as the work of Iranian subversives and foreign powers.

“In this recent election, the enemy tried to bring the battlefront to the interior of this country,” said Ahmadinejad, who earlier described the vote as the world’s “healthiest.”

“However, I have told the enemies ... that this nation ... will strike you in the face so hard you will lose your way home,” he said.

He also voiced continued defiance in the row over Iran’s nuclear activities, saying major powers “will not be able to take away the smallest amount of Iran’s rights.”

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