The Zeitgeist Politics

Global Politics with a focus on The Middle East

So is all well for Ahmadinejad?

with 2 comments

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.


Written by alexlobov

August 12, 2009 at 5:01 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I’ll tell you what happened…people started realizing that Mousavi and Ahmedinejad are about as different as oranges and tangerines.

    Sure one’s a little bigger than the other…but at the end of the day – does it really matter?


    August 16, 2009 at 4:02 pm

  2. Thanks for your thoughts ronmossad,
    I personally am more interested in the changes going on within the internal Iranian political establishment than any titanic battle between good and evil or Western-style liberalism vs. religious conservatism. That’s silly and I would never suggest such a thing.

    I am not judging the protest movement as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, I am merely noting it as an important event in the history of Iran and current political affairs in the Middle East. What I find particularly interesting about it is its impact on the political/clerical establishment in Tehran/Qom. If you don’t think any of this is important because the regime is likely to retain it’s hardline anti-Israel stance or because the nuclear programme will not be halted then you’re welcome to ignore it.


    August 17, 2009 at 12:30 am

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