January 7, 2008


Ahmadinejad loses favor with Khamenei, Iran's top leader (Nazila Fathi, January 7, 2008, IHT)

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."

Iran had been under increasing international pressure for its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment program, which could be pursued for either peaceful or military purposes. In separate speeches last year, American and French officials did not rule out military attack against Iran if it continued its defiance. Those threats have stopped since the National Intelligence Report was released.

Mahmoud wasn't the Ayatollah's candidate, which is why Rafsanjani was put in position to ride herd on the President. All that's changed is that the threat from America has lessened so the Ayatollah can be more open about his opposition. To have done so with war pending would have been unpatriotic.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 7, 2008 3:24 PM
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