A new Ayatollah on the block
Well this certainly puts some things into perspective. In particular, Khameni’s inexplicable insistence on an unpopular, blundering dunderhead of a demagogue for President makes more sense from a dying, soon to be marginalized strongman. Does this not echo North Korea’s recent police crackdown in light of Kim Jong-il’s reported illness? No overt political calculations are in play here – merely the tightening grip of a fading leader. For a long time I had wondered as to the cause behind Khameni’s blatant refusal of popular will, and this would appear to give a partial explanation.
Not that his support for Ahmadinejad makes any more rational sense. By all accounts the President has overstayed his welcome – inflation and unemployment trend only upwards in Iran, and his artless bellicosity toward the US smacks of a bygone (Bush) era. While the Islamic regime would surely gain by rejecting Ahmadinejad, they would gain doubly so by embracing Moussavi. Since he was robbed of the election, Moussavi has taken a more reformist stance, but the fact remains that he has been vetted by the Revolutionary Council, and has a direct interest in the continuation of the Islamic state. Only a subset of the protesters look for significant regime change – the candidates are fine with the way things are.
The Obama Administration has been wise (if a bit cowardly) in remaining silent while this affair plays out. But in various speeches our President has respectfully referred to Iran as “The Islamic Republic of”, so it would appear he too, is interested in Iranian regime stability.