February 17, 2006


Ahmadinejad on the warpath (Mahan Abedin , 2/18/06, Asia Times)

The most important feature of the second-generation revolutionaries is that they developed their political consciousness in the battlefields of the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, and not in the revolutionary struggle against the Pahlavi regime. While they are intensely loyal to the memory of the late ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (the leader of the Iranian revolution and founder of the Islamic Republic), the second-generation revolutionaries have tenuous ties (at best) to the conservative clerical establishment that controls the key centers of political and economic power.

Contrary to Western reporting, Ahmadinejad's performance has generated more controversy and ill-feeling within the corridors of power in Tehran than in the crucible of Western public opinion. Arguably, the most surprising development in the past six months is the extent of Ahmadinejad's independence and freedom of action.

Originally dismissed as the lackey of the clerical establishment, Ahmadinejad has proved time and again that the only agenda that drives him is his own. In the space of a few months the former IRGC commander has emerged as certainly the most independent and arguably the most powerful president in the republic's 27-year history. Even the Islamic Republic's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, does not seem to have any appreciable influence over Ahmadinejad and his inner circle.

While liberals and reformists are, broadly speaking, in opposition to the Ahmadinejad government, it is the conservative establishment that has emerged as the second-generation revolutionaries' most formidable adversary. This is not surprising, given that the latter aspire to reorder fundamentally the socio-economic system in the Islamic Republic, changes that would fatally weaken the conservatives.

The conservative establishment hoped to delay the coming of age of the second-generation revolutionaries by positioning Hashemi Rafsanjani in the presidency. But Rafsanjani lost to Ahmadinejad, and he has since played the part of a bad loser. Indeed, the most vociferous opposition to the changes of the past six months has been made by Rafsanjani in his unofficial capacity as the public head of the conservative establishment.

You can count the Western analysts who understand that Khamenei didn't want Ahmadinejad to win on one hand, and that Mordecai Brown's.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 17, 2006 6:14 PM

I still say that the moment the Mullahs decide that Ahmeninejad no longer serves a function, he will be found floating face down in some brakish lake. I can only assume that they believe he is serving a function.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at February 17, 2006 10:16 PM

You keep making the assumption that if the mullahs eventually turn against Ahmeninejad, they will depose him. There is also a chance that he will depose them. That would not be a positive development.

Posted by: Brandon at February 17, 2006 10:30 PM


That's one way to get rid of the excess layer that makes Iran not quite a functional democracy.

Posted by: oj at February 18, 2006 7:57 AM