March 14, 2006


Tehran elite turning on extremist presidency (John R. Bradley, March 14, 2006, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

Iran's clerical and business establishments, deeply concerned by what they see as reckless spending and needlessly aggressive foreign policies, are increasingly turning against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Within this context, many see the president's long-running confrontation with the United States and Europe over Tehran's nuclear program as an attempt to demonize the West and distract the Iranian public from pressing domestic problems.

A relatively small group of extremists "at the top of the government around the president" are seeking to benefit from a crisis with the West, because "that way they will be able once again to blame the West for all of their problems," said Mousa Ghaninejad, the editor of Iran's best-selling economics daily newspaper, Dunya Al-Eqtisad. [...]

The value of Tehran's stock market had fallen by $10 billion under Mr. Ahmadinejad as of February, the Los Angeles Times reported. Other recent Western news reports say that the nation's vibrant real-estate market has withered and that capital outflows are increasing.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's spending has pushed the inflation rate to an estimated 13.5 percent, and several estimates say it could go as high as 30 percent this year.

Economic analysts note that inflation will be felt most acutely by the poor, undermining the president's support among his most important constituency.

Parliament has challenged the president on other issues, most notably by rejecting three successive candidates for oil minister. Mr. Ahmadinejad declared angrily after the second rejection that "no other president has ever been subject to such negative propaganda and treatment."

Mr. Ahmadinejad's detractors say the broad coalition against him is attracting many of the regime's powerful personalities and may include even the supreme leader himself, despite his superficial statements in support of the president.

They point to a recent decree by Ayatollah Khamenei giving the Expediency Council, headed by former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, oversight of the presidency.

As badly as the Administration has misunderstood Iran they ought to be able to figure this out.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 14, 2006 8:35 AM

It's not one man who is our enemy. The nuclear program was not created by Ahmadinejad, but by Khamenei and the whole of the regime. Sponsorship of terrorism was not created by Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad's only problem is that he's too honest. His opponents fear his rhetoric is giving political cover to the Bush administration to launch an attack. But it is a debate about tactics, not about strategy.

The Bush administration has to bring about the overthrow of the regime and ending of the nuclear program. The second goal cannot be achieved without the first.

Posted by: pj at March 14, 2006 9:37 AM

No, Ahmadinejad believes the 12th Imam is imminent, so he's dangerous. Khamenei understands they need to Reform Iran for the long haul, though he's, for obvious reasons, not ready to reform himself out of existence.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2006 10:02 AM

Is this the same John R. Bradley who accused James Taranto of perfidy a few years back when Bradley was at the Arab News?

Posted by: Brad S at March 14, 2006 10:28 AM

Certainly Ahmadinejad is dangerous, but so is Khamanei.

Posted by: pj at March 14, 2006 1:00 PM

Hhhmmm, so inflation underminines the president's support among his most important constituency, eh? Perhaps the CIA should consider a little program to print lots of Iranian currency and get it into the country. And maybe for North Korea as well, since they are already counterfeiting ours.

Posted by: PapayaSF at March 14, 2006 4:06 PM

Use the Mossad, the CIA would use the Shah's picture on the phony currency.

Posted by: Bob at March 14, 2006 4:51 PM