Iranian VP claims psychological warfare against Israel
Newly appointed Esfandiar Rahim Mashai says his statements made last year that Iran is Israel's friend was really meant for ears of West Bank residents in bid to undermine Israeli regime. Statements provoke outrage at Mashai's appointment to first vice president spot
Mashai said in an interview with state television Tuesday that he did not intend that Israel is Iran's friend, but that his statements were meant as a form of "psychological warfare."
Mashai, who previously served as vice president for tourism affairs, provoked a media storm when he said that Iran is a friend of the Israeli people. More than 200 Iranian parliament members and senior religious officials condemned his statements and called for him to be dismissed from his post.
Ahmadinejad did not fold under pressure and explained that Mashai's statements were taken out of context. The scandal died down when Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Mashai's statements were "incorrect and illogical," and ordered that discussion of the subject be closed.
Even then, Mashai went back on his statements, even making a militant call to destroy Israel. In an interview with Press Tv, an Iranian English-language television channel, Mashai issued a detailed explanation of his motives behind his declaration of friendship with the Jewish state.
"What I said then was not connected at all with the Israeli regime," said Mashai to Press TV. "I did not speak of the illegal Zionist regime at all. My statements were intended for the ears of the residents of the occupied territories. Actually, it was psychological warfare against the Israeli regime."
He added, "What I meant to say was that this regime is in such a state of disorder that it won't enjoy international support much longer." Mashai reiterated that he never claimed that the Islamic republic is a friend of the Israelis.
'Zionist regime is dead, just needs funeral'
Mashai even tried to prove his claims by serving as his own character witness. According to him, just two days before making the said statements about Israel, he gave another speech in which he attacked the Zionist regime. "I gave a speech that was broadcast in the media in which I said that the Zionist regime is dead, and the only thing missing is a funeral in order to put an end to the affair," he said.
Since Ahmadinejad's decision to appoint Mashai as his senior most vice president, he has been under constant attack from conservative religious leaders and legislators in his own camp opposed to the appointment. Senior religious figure Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami harshly criticized the president, saying that Mashai's appointment "turns its back on the religious figures and the elite."
Vice Speaker of the Iranian Parliament Mohammad-Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard claimed Tuesday that Ayatollah Khamenei demanded that Ahmadinejad depose Mashai immediately. "The deposition of Mashai from his position is a strategic decision for the regime," claimed the vice speaker.