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Opinion: On His Way Out

by MEA CYRUS in London

25 Sep 2010 05:5317 Comments
PH2010092205921.jpgTaste for controversy increases president's own risks.

[ comment ] There is considerable confusion as to why President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said what he did in New York, clearly suggesting that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were a devious American plot. Delivering another blow to his image in the West and unnecessarily pushing Iran further down the path of confrontation with the United States, he also did all he could to create a new atmosphere of hostility between the American and Iranian people. Indeed, Ahmadinejad has proven himself a leader who enjoys creating provocations around a wide range of issues -- the Holocaust most notoriously, until now. And this tendency to create controversy is not limited to international affairs where it might make sense to vex those whom one perceives as enemies. He acts in exactly the same manner inside Iran, as well.

For almost 30 years, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini's words showed the way in matters of national governance. The Revolution's iconic figure unreservedly ranked the Majles, the Iranian parliament, as the country's most important civil institution, responsible both for legislation and for holding the executive and judiciary branches accountable to the Constitution and the popular will. Ahmadinejad openly challenged Khomeini's view a few days before flying to New York to take part in the U.N. General Assembly, claiming precedence for himself and his administration.

He has also challenged the system's current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, by publicly refusing to follow his words (orders!) on many occasions. When Esfandiar Rahim Mashei, probably Ahmadinejad's closest political confidant, talked of friendship between Iranians and Israelis, there was a huge wave of calls for his removal. The Supreme Leader wrote a letter to Ahmadinejad asking him to remove Mashei from the vice presidency. Ahmadinejad took days to respond to and then appointed Mashei as his chief of staff, embarrassing Khamenei.

Recently, the president has embarked on a new policy of glorifying Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire in the sixth century B.C. Even his own intelligence minister publicly labeled this particular approach to nationalism a policy perpetrated by Iran's enemies. Before Ahmadinejad set off for the United States, his administration eliminated and at the same time added new days to the Iranian calendar of events. One deprecated event was the day devoted to the "Dialogue among Civilizations," introduced to the calendar to pay respect to former President Mohammad Khatami's initiative, which he happened to bring to the world's attention in a speech at the United Nations.

His behavior clearly demonstrates an abnormality in Ahmadinejad's way of thinking and the depth of the problem the Islamic Republic now faces in how to deal with him. He is losing his base among conservatives fast. There has not been a day in the past few months when he has not been strongly criticized by conservative MPs, clerics, and right-wing newspapers (notably, Kayhan on many occasions). Reformist politicians and media outlets, of course, have also spoken out -- those few that are still able. Most have been completely silenced due to harsh crackdowns comparable only to those in Burma or North Korea.

Ahmadinejad is the first Iranian president in the past 20 years to have defied Khamenei on so many occasions. Previous Iranian leaders had not questioned the Holocaust and his words about 9/11 stand in stark contrast to the fact that, as U.S. President Barack Obama noted, Iranians took to the streets in great numbers to show their grief over what happened to Americans in the terrible events of that day. Given this, the outside world would be better off not to afford Ahmadinejad what he is looking for: attention. His own best hope is to generate controversies that, supposedly, demonstrate how strong he is in dealing with so-called enemies and, more importantly, distract from realities on the ground in Iran like growing economic hardship and the political chaos of the era defined by the stolen June 2009 election and its bloody aftermath.

What Ahmadinejad has done to Iran's image in the past five years has ultimately done most to serve certain interests in Israel and the United States. With his inflammatory words about the Holocaust and now 9/11, he has made it much easier for foreign powers to put pressure on Iran, whether through sanctions or a possible military attack. Even Saddam Hussein was not that stupid.

Ahmadinejad has a rough road ahead of him. New privatization policies and the planned elimination of subsidies have shaken the country even before the latter has officially begun. There is a serious concern that the disappearance of subsidies, hitting Iranians directly in the pocketbook, will greatly magnify popular dissatisfaction. Resistance against his policies in every area from domestic to foreign -- recently, for instance, with his appointment of special diplomatic envoys outside the purview of the Foreign Ministry -- has become constant and intense. In turn, his repeated claims to widespread popularity and respect grow ever more incredible.

It is quite possible that Ahmadinejad's words and policies may ignite a grave confrontation between Iran and the outside world or between the regime and the Iranian people themselves. Some observers regard Khamenei as a relative pragmatist and not without reason. Supporting that view, he has been more vocal in criticizing the president over the past year. Ahmadinejad has paid only perfunctory notice to the Supreme Leader and stuck to his guns, refusing to select his inner circle of statesmen according to Khamenei's wishes. If this and related trends continue, they may create the internal conditions for his removal well before any American decision to intervene.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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17 Comments

Well, President Ahmadinejad's asserting his policies in a manner the reformists' were expecting from former President Khatami, during his years as president.

Khatami's supporters were disappointed in his lack of forcefulness, where Ahmadinejad's currently are not.

Kind'a envious, Mea Cyrus?

Pirouz / September 25, 2010 3:48 PM

I'd say it's two sides of the same coin. This is all a charade to fool us ordinary people into thinking that they are two conflicting sides and that they are working for the good of the people. Ahmadinejad is just a scapegoat, nothing more. We have persistently given way too much attention to one feeble man, while many are making astronomical amounts of fortunes from all this in the process of plundering Iran and America's financial and natural resources.

I know it's too much for most of us to think beyond individual politicians and the names and faces we see on TV and on paper, but we've gotta give it some attention to see that the whole thing is orchestrated by large and rogue organizations (such as, but not necessarily, the RIIA and the CFA).

I would argue that people should rise up and take the matter's into their own hands. No leader with any particular personality traits can do what people can do spontaneously - not today anyways.

Ali / September 25, 2010 5:05 PM

"When Esfandiar Rahim Mashei, probably Ahmadinejad's closest political confidant, talked of friendship between Iranians and Israelis, there was a huge wave of calls for his removal."

I've never understood why the mere fact that he (Mashaie) mentioned this two years ago hasn't been praised but condemned by exile Iranians and Western observers. Now Cyrus, who might in fact have been great. It is the clergy, backward-oriented mullahs, who cry out in either case! Use Ahmadinejad's notorious and consistent lies about domestic issues (in interviews by Charlie Rose, Christiane Amanpour, Larry King), in particular human rights issues. His stupid and irrelevant conspiracy theories are actually shared by many, in particular the 'men on the street' in underdeveloped Muslim countries, who he likes to address. Those who still support him in Iran, do like it too.

Fahad / September 25, 2010 5:48 PM

Ahmadinejad seems to have jumped into Fidel Castro's boat on the 9/11 issue, although he did that some years ago. And they both know a lot about murdering their own countrymen for political reasons, as well as carrying out terrorist atrocities on foreign soil to boot. Regardless of one's opinion about 9/11 (and there are opposing viewpoints), the level of hypocrisy from Ahmadinejad is utterly staggering.

P.S. On this subject, can anyone shed any light on the MeK rumour about the "man of a thousand bullets"? Maybe he emulated Che Guevara before he started aping Castro...

Ian / September 25, 2010 6:01 PM

Stop spamming this site with your regime-influenced talking points.

Anthony / September 25, 2010 6:03 PM

My comment was directed at the commenter "Pirouz".

Anthony / September 25, 2010 6:03 PM

The following is another approach towards the realities surrounding Iran. This regime is falling apart faster than most people realize or are willing to admit. Much of Ahmadinejad's moves are mere theatrics at best and short term. 2011 is the beginning of the end.

http://www.iranian-americans.com/movie/hamayesh-2.wmv

Niloofar / September 26, 2010 5:59 AM

Ali,

You are being a bit simplistic.

Ahmadinejad is far from a scapegoat. The question you are addressing is, who is making policy in Iran? Ahmadinejad is very much involved in many of the policies.

He may not be the initiator of the policies. But he is willing to do anything to carry them out. And willing to cover them up.

He's far from a scapegoat. He is an active participant. Because he is not very good at conceiling his strange philospohies, we should not assume he is helpless to the "powers that be".

muhammad billy bob / September 26, 2010 4:35 PM

Fahad - actually what AN gave expression to is believed to by a vast number of people in the US. I recommend all of you see the movie documentary called 'loose change'. A very insightful account about the many loose strands and unanswered question on the incident of 9/11. Disregarding who said it, it is right that an incident that has had such a negative impact and could potentially lead to a major future confrontation between the Christian (Western) world and the Muslim (Eastern) world, that there is an international truth commission to establish the facts. We already know that the US/UK government went to war against Iraq on the back of a lie, therefore there account cannot be relied upon. Besides it always make sense to have a second and even a third look at incidents that have a severe impact on international relations.

rezvan / September 26, 2010 7:49 PM

everyone knows the dirty 9/11 secret
why do people keep playing dumb ~

NadePaulKuciGravMcKi / September 26, 2010 9:29 PM

Hey tehran bureau sounds like you're supporting the "great leader".

So what that Ahmadi and Mashei said that Iran should become friendly with Israel .

So what that he said that Cyrus is great, or many other similar comments that praise pre-islamic Iran.

Ahmadi is no saint but I rather have him then the clerical bullies who have ruled for 30 years. Pragmatic or not.

Koorosh / September 27, 2010 2:40 AM

rezvan and Nade,

You people are funny! There is very very little support for such conspiracy theory in the U.S. Especially, since there is so much physical evidence to this crime.

It is the hieght of absurdity to suggest that the U.S. government was behind 9/11. There is absolutely no proof of this, in anyway.

I've seen that piece "loose change". It is all conjecture, unsupported by facts. The only thing the U.S. government is guilty of is being lax on security, and humanely allowing the innoncent members of the Bin Laden family to leave the country.

There have been 1st through 100th looks at the 9-11 attack, by those of all political stripes. It is probably the most examined attack in human history. The existence of CC cameras, easily intercepted and taped cell phone conversations, visa applications, passport info and all the other trappings of the modern world has made this investigation easy. But go ahead and give it the 101st look. But don't expect me to pay for it.

muhammad billy bob / September 27, 2010 3:19 AM

it is amazing that the americam media gives such a platdorm to ahmadinejad to speak his mind and then mocks him,why even give him an interview to begin with,is always been puzzling to me.
it was quite obvious that when the conversation lead into himan rights issues and irans records on the subject,his demeanor changed dramatically and he looked very upset.

fay / September 27, 2010 5:52 AM

m bob- At least we are agreed that the matter does need to be looked at even if it may be for the 101th time but you do not want the US taxpayer to fund it. In which case the US govt should accept the establishment of such an inquiry and ask Iran or other international bodies to fund it. The point however is that the US regime has denounced it and called it an insult to the innocents who got killed and similar has been the position of the US mainstream media (mostly corporate controlled). It is also interesting to note that a UN probe of the Israeli commandos who killed 9 Turkish civilians aboard the Gaza flotilla found Israel guilty and in breach of international laws. It would be interesting to see the results of a similar UN sponsored probe into the 9/11 incident and the sooner it is done the better for all sides.

rezvan / September 27, 2010 10:09 PM

rezvan,

That's not what I wrote. I didn't write that it needs to to be looked at again. I wrote you, or anyone, can feel free to look at it again. And the U.S. government doesn't oppose any inquiry. What the U.S. does oppose is the incorrect and faulty conclusions of such haphazard inquiries. The U.S. has every right to be outraged and to denounce conclusions that are totally unfounded, and based on no fact whatsoever. The U.S. corporately controlled media would love it if their was a real U.S. government responsibility for 9/11. Their ratings would soar. They've investigated it from every angle to get that story. It just doesn't exist.

I went back and rewatched the mockumentary "loose change" after your post about it. It is available to netflix subscribers on instant streaming. What a piece of you know what. Never trust a film that doesn't give an opposing explanation of their conclusion. The opening scenes of the JFK trip to Dallas, conspiracy theories about FDR and Pearl Harbor pretty much explained it all.

As far as U.N. investigations..... Who do you think pays for most of the U.N.? The U.S. taxpayer pays the vast majority of the U.N. budget. For example, why do you call those involved in the Turkish flotilla as "civilians"? When someone interjects themselves into an armed conflict they are no longer civilians.

Let's be honest. Which the Iranian government and the U.S. government will not be. Why do "Islamic extremist" want to attack the U.S.? Or Israel for that matter. Alot of the blame does lie with U.S. involvement in Islamic countries. But there is also alot of blame on alot of the people of the Islamic nations. Alot of people in the U.S. do support the U.S. involvement in ME wars. And alot of the people of the ME support involvement in attacks against other nations.

Ahmadinejad's objective is to justify the 9/11/01 attacks on some level. This is a very difficult thing to justify. So instead of presenting the events in the context of the real conflict that exists, he is trying to deflect attention to non-existant issues. He knows that his real arguement will not be very popular.

muhammad billy bob / October 1, 2010 12:40 AM

Bob- Thanks for clarifying that 'someone who interjects themselves into an armed conflict (they) are no longer civilians'. Since all Israeli citizens of Jewish origin and Druze and Circassian men -as per Wikipedia- men and women of 18 and over have a mandatory requirement (with a few exceptions) to perform mandatory military service plus having programs to recruit young non-Israeli Jews to serve in the IDF, then by your argument it will be right and proper for the various Palestinian Islamist and non-Islamist groups to target through their 'suicide' bombings Israeli civilian areas and indeed Jewish areas outside Israel as any Jew or Druze or Circassian over the age of 18 is no longer a civilian both on account of their being obliged by law to serve in the Israeli army and as you say interjecting themselves in an area of armed conflict for the last 60 years??
Is this how you intend to achieve peace and security in the world?? Is this the right way to run the world?? Or are there better ways that should be explored??

rezvan / October 2, 2010 3:54 PM

rezvan,

Your welcome. It's just basic common sense. That when someone announces publicly they are going to deliver supplies to one side of an armed conflict, knowing full well that the other side of that armed conflict will try to prevent that action. One is no longer a civilian. One is inviting a conflict.

Your arguement about the draft laws of Israel is interesting. But the one thing you do not address is, are these military eligible people charging the borders of Gaza? Are they actively seeking conflict? Because one is eligible for the draft does not mean they are actively seeking conflict. The Turkish flotilla was actively seeking a conflict. And they got that conflict.There were many other ways they could have more peacfully supported Gazans. But, instead they chose the way that created the most conflict and the most press and propaganda.

Your last sentence is particularily revealing. It is not my responsibility, or yours, to acheive peace and security in the world. It is my responsibility to not harm others unless I am under direct threat of physical harm. That is your responsibility as well. When someone decides they are going to "run the world" they are in for a very serious dissappointment. The only way to "run the world" is by force. Forcing others to behave as you'd like them to behave. Most people respond to such force with force in return.

When you decide to "run the world" you decide that this group of people are preferential to "run" this part of the world over that group. This idea is a proven failure. U.S.S.R., U.S.,british empire, etc. Have all proven that trying to "run the world" is an absolute receipe for disaster.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is none of my business. But if I were to decide it was my business, and take direct action to try to affect the outcome of that conflict, I would expect the other side would try to stop me from affecting the outcome.

Sorry this is getting long. But I think this should get back to the orginal topic. The one thing that Ahmadinejad and the U.S. government do not want to address is why does Bin Laden, and many other "Islamic extremist" want to attack the U.S. in anyway they possibly can?

You gave the answer yourself. They want to "run the world". The U.S. government wants "it's people" to control the mid east. The Iranian government wants "it's people" to control the mid east. This is the reason why there were the attacks on 9/11/01. It was not some great conspiracy by the U.S. government to kill it's own citizens. It was a response to the U.S. governments involvement in taking sides in the mid east. Ahmadinejad doesn't want to admit this because it would mean his "side" killed 4,000 civilians. The U.S. government doesn't want to admit it because they don't want to admit that their policies led others to want to kill americans in whatever way they could.

muhammad billy bob / October 2, 2010 8:23 PM