London, June 27, IRNA-The election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran's new president is the latest in a long line of intelligence failures by British Foreign Office, according to the Guardian newspaper.
The paper's diplomatic editor Ewen MacAskill revealed Monday that after the first round, the British Embassy in Tehran "sent a cable, as the Foreign Office still quaintly refers to communications with its overseas staff, admitting it had misread recent events."
"The embassy, in its prediction of the first round of the presidential elections on June 17, had completely failed to spot the emergence of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad," he said. "The first round was a surprise to them," he quoted a Foreign Office source confirming.
Having been caught out by the first round, the embassy was said to have "hedged its bets" in last Friday's second round run-off between the mayor of Tehran and chairman of the Expediency Council, Hashemi Rafsanjani.
MacAskill said that part of the reason for the failure was because the president-elect had consistently turned down requests by British Ambassador to Iran, Richard Dalton, for a meeting during his two years as mayor.
"The Foreign Office is sanguine about the mistake, noting that there has been a long history of failure to assess correctly events in Iran, going back to the revolution in 1979 which the west failed to see coming," the diplomatic editor said.
He quoted a Foreign Office spokesman trying to put the blame for the failure on the nature of Iranian politics, saying that "trying to predict events in Iran is a mug's game."
The spokesman said that the official policy for the time being was to "wait and see" but added that "our analysis is this guy appears to be a throwback to the early 80s and that cannot be a good thing."
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