No sympathy for Iran

December 14, 2006

Tehran’s two day conference on the Holocaust has come to an end, with world leaders heavily criticizing Iran for staging a conference around Holocaust denial. Notably, Russian foreign ministry has said that it shares the UN’s determination to not deny the Holocaust.

The conference has raised eyebrows everywhere with the Iranian government inviting questionable speakers including David Durke of the Ku Klux Klan as one of its presenters. Without a doubt, the two-day event was meant as a statement to Israel, with Iranian President Ahmadinejad saying that Israel would soon disappear just like the Soviet Union once did. However, this is not effective diplomacy and it’s not likely to win Iran any international support, when it has an opportunity to play a bigger regional role with an opportunity in Iraq.

Instead of playing the role of a moderate, Iran is simply portraying itself as an extremist state; criticizing Israel is one thing, but denying its existence based on a denial of the Holocaust is unacceptable. Leaders of Britain, Canada, Russia, the US and others are right to severely criticize the action.

While Ahmadinejad may have received the headlines he was working for, he did not get favorable coverage. Considering Iran’s recent foreign policy success — getting Iraqi President Talabani to visit Tehran officially — the government has now made a step backwards with the political failure of holding the conference. And without a doubt it will not stop foreign audiences from perceiving the Iranian government as a group of extremists who cannot be trusted.

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