Iranian dissent, or just PR concerns?

The Middle East Times reports today that an adviser to the leading cleric in Iran issued a statement that indirectly criticizes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  The rare public rebuke concerns the Iranian president’s proclivity for incendiary comments regarding the Iranian nuclear program, such as proclaiming Iran as the “most powerful nation in the world”.  The message from Ayatollah Ali Khameini — shut the heck up:

A top advisor to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned on Tuesday against “provocative” remarks on Tehran’s nuclear crisis which tend to be associated with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“The officials and the political experts need to avoid provocative and illogical declarations and slogans,” Ali Akbar Velayati told the hardline Jomhouri Eslami newspaper in an interview. …

“The 5+1 group take into consideration every word of those declarations and slogans and we have to give more careful statements,” Velayati was quoted as saying.

“A certain declaration could cause us problems, we need to be careful not to make these declarations,” added Velayati, the longest-serving foreign minister in the history of the Islamic republic.

Does this qualify as a fault line in Iranian politics?  That seems highly unlikely, as Ahmadinejad only has such power as Khameini lends him.  If anything, this merely serves as a reminder to Ahmadinejad and others not to go out of their way to provoke harsher treatment from the West, which has grown more united in the face of Ahmadinejad’s strange pronouncements.

The ruling mullahs want to stall for time while holding off the most damaging of sanctions or military action.  They need the West split in order to accomplish that, and talk of wiping Israel off the map and defeating the West in war doesn’t help.  The public rebule also serves to encourage more talk from the West in thinking that they can work around the hardliners in the Ahmadinejad front.

In other words, this is just a PR move for the benefit of Western diplomats.  A public rebuke will increase hope for a peaceful resolution of the Iranian uranium-enrichment efforts that the mullahs want just as badly as Ahmadinejad, and for the same reasons.  (via Memeorandum)