So is all well for Ahmadinejad?
As news comes in today that, after his formal inauguration as the President of Iran, Ahmadinejad has received congratulations from UN Security General Ban Ki Moon and Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, one has to wonder, what of the protest movement that created such waves in global press for weeks and that still dominates Twitter’s trending topics from time to time, two months after the initial protests ignited?
TehranBureau has an interesting piece on the matter, written by Farideh Farhi:
Challenges facing Ahmadinejad include open hostility from a large section of the Iranian elite which Ayatollah Khamenei characterised in Ahmadinejad’s confirmation speech as “angry and wounded”; highly charged criticisms of his appointments and policies from within the conservative ranks; continued civil disobedience; a public mood that has turned from mostly inattentive and apolitical to concerned and angry; general unhappiness among the clergy about the harsh crackdown; and a much more hostile international environment.
All this is on top of serious economic woes that he was unable to address during his first term — as he had promised to do in his 2005 campaign.
As the TehranBureau piece rightly points out, we are seeing an unprecedent challenge to the President and Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic. While Iranian politics has always been partly volatile and has never been the one-party show certain ignorant observers in some parts of the world like to see, what we’re seeing here is the combination of a squeeze from the top coming from several key and prominent reformist clerics and politicans, combined with burgeoning popular discontent. This twin pressure will prove difficult for Ahmadinejad to deal with during his tenure, and it will be a problem for his unswerving supporter, Ayatollah Khamenei, who has now become personally associated with the crushing of the protest movement. As Farhi points out:
Ahmadinejad’s options are limited. He can acknowledge his weakened presidency, over-see a cabinet whose individual members will contest his policies, and head an administration that is conflicted from within. Or he can try to try to act resolutely by picking fights with almost every political force in the country, in which case his behaviour will be the source of heartache for everyone who for ideological reasons or for fear of reformist resurgence ended up supporting him in the election.
The inauguration and the congratulatory messages have put an end to any immediate change as had been hoped by the protest movement, but Iran has changed dramatically over the last two months and things are no longer what they seem. It will remain an interesting political atmosphere to watch and keep track of in the coming months.