Published: 3/01/2010 at 12:00 AM
A former high-ranking intelligence official in Iran has called for his country to form better relations with the United States and Israel and says the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is on the verge of collapse.
In an exclusive interview with the Bangkok Post Sunday, Mohammad Reza Madhi, a former officer in Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards' intelligence service, described Mr Ahmadinejad as ''crazy'' and unfit to lead his country.
''He has already destroyed international relationships with many countries and made them enemies of Iran,'' said Mr Madhi, who was forced to flee Iran in 2008 after being jailed for 73 years on what he described as ''trivial'' charges. ''This has cost the Iranian people so much. His ideas are dangerous.''
Iran's opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi said on Friday he was ready to sacrifice his life in defence of the people's right to protest peacefully against the government after the worst unrest since the disputed June presidential election.
Full story : Iranian insider predicts regime change
Mr Madhi, who says he was once the right-hand man of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and passed on information to respected cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who died last month, has been in regular contact with the opposition Green Path of Hope group since he left Iran.
He said while his country should remain the Islamic Republic of Iran, religion and politics must be separated. ''The good clerics should help the people and the government, while the bad ones should be ousted from government,'' he said.
Mr Madhi said a motivation for Iran improving international relations was the poor economic situation in the country and the need for it to be part of a globalised world economy.
''We cannot close our eyes to the United States and Europe. They are strong political and economic powerhouses. If Iran is to prosper, we need to have good relationships _ both political and economic _ with everyone, includ ing Russia.'' On Israel, he said: ''It is the Iranian government which doesn't recognise its right to exist, but the Iranian people might think differently.
''Israel's internal problems are its own affairs, not ours. We shouldn't get involved. It shouldn't concern us. My view is that Israel has the right to exist. We should recognise it.''
Mr Madhi was highly critical of Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, a spiritual adviser to a group of hard-line fundamentalists closely connected to senior leaders in the current Iranian government.
''He is a very crazy man who hates Israel and the United States especially. Unfortunately, President Ahmadinejad is one of his big fans as well.''
The former intelligence officer said that instead of imposing sanctions, western nations should look to supporting opposition groups and not recognise the Ahmadinejad government.