Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in for a second term as Iran’s president on Wednesday, with protesters chanting “Death to the Dictator” in nearby streets. In Washington, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs affirmed that Ahmadinejad “has been inaugurated — that’s a fact,” reiterating President Barack Obama’s offer to engage Tehran.
Some observers see U.S. recognition of the disputed election results as a mistake. Israel-based scholar Barry Rubin notes that the Obama White House should follow a “liberal” approach by not recognizing a government that achieved power through force and dishonesty. Similarly, Mohsen Rezaeihas, one of Ahmadinejad’s challengers, warned that Iran could become a “religious dictatorship” with Western complicity.
Ahmadinejad’s second term will likely not be an easy one for Washington. Defense expert Mark Fitzpatrick estimates that Tehran will be able to produce a nuclear bomb by year’s end, increasing the odds of a showdown.