Gape in wonder as Iranian “analysts” turn lemons into lemonade.
There are numerous possible reasons for Ahmadinejad’s loss of support, but analysts here all point to one overriding factor: the U.S. National Intelligence Report last month, which said that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003 in response to international pressure. The report sharply decreased the threat of a military strike against Iran, allowing the authorities to focus on domestic issues, with important parliamentary elections looming in March.
“Now that Iran is not under the threat of a military attack, all contradictions within the establishment are surfacing,” said Saeed Leylaz, an economic and political analyst. “The biggest mistake that Americans have constantly made toward Iran was adopting radical approaches, which provided the ground for radicals in the country to take control.”
The NIE came out in December; the regime’s “contradictions” have been in plain view for at least a year. Khamenei was publicly knocking Ahmadinejad’s government as far back as last February, replete with a noteworthy snub of Mahdi during a series of meetings with other government officials at the time. In October Ahmadinejad replaced Ali Larijani, a hated rival and Khamenei’s nuke negotiator of choice, with his own nutjob favorite, Saeed Jalili. Khamenei responded by going over his head and sending Larijani to accompany Jalili to the nuclear talks in Rome. That same month, Khamenei reacted to a student protest against Ahmadinejad by … commending the protesters and announcing that he didn’t “approve of every detail of the work that is being done” by the government. And then there’s this nugget from back in May, in which Iran’s tightly controlled press somehow was permitted to accuse Ahmadinejad of, and I quote, “economic suicide.”
Did the NIE deepen the cracks in the regime by decreasing the pressure for a united front? We’ll find out. Just beware of anti-war spin in the meantime that neutralizing Iran is as simple as scabbarding a sword.