It will likely be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's last speech in front of the United Nations, and UN organizers are terrified he's going to go out with a bang. Today and Wednesday, Iran's president will address officials at the 139-nation General Assembly for its annual gathering, and already, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned him to hold the incendiary rhetoric and keep it simple. In a meeting on Sunday between Ban and Ahmadinejad, "The secretary-general drew attention to the potentially harmful consequences of inflammatory rhetoric, counter-rhetoric and threats from various countries in the Middle East," Ban's office told Reuters this morning. Given the surge of anti-American protests in Muslim countries and Israeli threats of military action against Iran, it's easy to see why Ban wants to turn the temperature down on Ahmadinejad's global address. But given the Ahmadinejad's track record of inflammatory speeches, it's doubtful he won't ruffle some feathers. So who's he likely to offend most, and which subject areas will he speak to? We can only guess from past experiences and comments to reporters over the weekend:
Israel. When Ban issued his warning to Ahmadinejad, he was likely thinking of statements such as "the Zionists are a cancerous tumor," a provocative line Ahmadinejad hauled out last month during a state television broadcast. This weekend, The Washington Post's David Ignatius asked Ahmadinejad about that very rhetoric. "Israelis often read your words and come away thinking: This man hates our country, peace is impossible." In response, Ahmadinejad sort of talked past Ignatius, saying " We have no problems with any people. Wherever in the world there are innocent people with problems, we are on their side." As such, it's anyone's guess what kind of anti-Israel rhetoric might emerge.