Iran: the Saga of Ali and Mahmoud Continues………….

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However, the swiftness of Ahmadinejad’s fall and the degree of invective — charges against his entourage have ranged from sorcery to treason — are shocking even to those inured to Iran’s brutally personal politics. This may reflect in part the pressure the regime is facing in areas ranging from foreign policy — where ally Syria is struggling to contain mass protests — to the anemic, sanctions-plagued economy. Growth this year will be flat, according to Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, a specialist on the Iranian economy at Virginia Tech. Farideh Farhi, an Iran expert at the University of Hawaii, thinks that Ahmadinejad has basically been given a choice: submit or be removed. Given the president’s history, she said, “I can only assume that if he is to go down, he will make sure that it is as painful as possible for everyone concerned……..”

Ahmadinajd is the child of the Islamic Revolution and its regime: he is attached to it from his modest roots, from his military service in the Iran-Iraq war which aimed to abort the revolution, and from his association with the IRGC. What has occurred in recent weeks, indeed in recent months, is partly rivalry over power and partly divergent outlooks on how to perpetuate the regime.
Unlike his predecessors, Ahmadinejad has not been too shy to test the limits of his power, as allowed by the clergy who control the theocracy. Perhaps it is partly because he is the first non-clerical president since the very early years, and the only one to last a whole term (and beyond). There were two other civilian presidents: Bani-Sadr, the very first president, fled into exile after less than two years, the other one was quickly blown up to bits by a bomb. Ahmadinejad has been testing the limits through ministerial appointments and firings, with partial success.

There is also an “ideological” component to his dispute with the clergy. The Clergy tend to believe that they are the only true guardians of the system, of the theocracy. They are, of course, quite right. Lately Ahmadinejad apparently has had an epiphany on how to save the republic from itself. He knows what some of the clergy may not know: that many people in Iran are unhappy with the regime as it is (an understatement). He believes he knows how to fix that. It is the old story of balancing ideology with what people want, with a dose of non-Islamic nationalism added. The mullahs, being mullahs, believe otherwise. The president has allies, even among some silent clergy. It is very likely as the article up there hints that he will continue to test the limits; that is his personality.
The next two years, his last in office, should be very interesting in Iranian politics. They will probably be much more interesting than the elections of 2013, especially if the mullahs insist on limiting the field of candidates. The TV debates have apparently become part of Iranian politics now, and they should provide at least one interesting aspect of the 2013 elections.

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