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Iran Watch: Obama=bush?


Still not much thaw, publicly at least. From Ha'aretz:

Meanwhile Wednesday, Iran's top authority said that U.S. President Barack Obama was pursuing the same "wrong path" as George W. Bush in supporting Israel, which he called a "cancerous tumor."

The comments by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on policy in the Islamic Republic, are likely to disappoint the new U.S. administration which wants to engage Iran but has called on Tehran to "unclench its fist."

"Even the new president of America, who has come to power with slogans about changing Bush's policies, is defending state terrorism by talking about unconditional commitment to Israel's security," Khamenei said.

Khamenei, speaking at a conference on the Palestinian issue in Tehran, said Obama was following the same "wrong path" of his predecessor in the White House. 

This doesn't mean there's no hope for talking with Iran. But while Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has recently said some more conciliatory things about Obama (although yesterday he reiterated that the US follows "Satanic" policies), it's the Supreme Leader we really need to reach. He may just be posturing here in advance of negotiations. Or this may be why Hillary Clinton sounded so pessimistic about the possibility of dialogue with Iran. One thing is for sure: the mere fact of Obama's new style and tone won't produce a breakthrough with Iran. Only smart--and tough--diplomacy can.  

--Michael Crowley