Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Latest from Iran (22 November): Ahmadinejad Benefits from Tehran's Problems Abroad

0605 GMT: There was an unexpected beneficiary on Wednesday from the challenges to Iran in foreign conflicts such as the Gaza crisis and the war in Syria. Soon after the Supreme Leader had called for "Muslim unity" against Israel --- his first public comments on Gaza since the conflict erupted a week ago --- he turned to unity at home, addressing the proposed interrogation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by MPs:

Up to this point, the plan to question the President has been positive because of the sense of responsibility of Parliament and the readiness of government officials. But if this issue goes any further, it will be what the enemies want and so I ask the honorable representatives not to continue with it.

The call for a political cease-fire was not unexpected --- it is the timing and manner that is of interest. For months, the Supreme Leader's office has played the game of allowing MPs to press their criticism of Ahmadinejad through petitions and demands for his accountability, especially on the economy, while working behind-the-scenes to prevent petitions from turning into a public showdown. Ayatollah Khamenei's camp may not be particularly fond of Ahmadinejad, but they had no clear choice for a stop-gap President. And, with the calendar moving to the Presidential elections in June 2013, the obvious choice was to keep Ahmadinejad as an increasingly lame-duck executive --- provided he did not act out and try to tear the political house down.

Ahmadinejad raised exactly that possibility earlier this month when he picked a fight with the head of the judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, over a demand to visit Evin Prison. And so the Supreme Leader's office accepted the presentation by 77 MPs to Parliament of a petition for the President's interrogation. At some point, however, Ayatollah Khamenei had to decide whether to let the process run its full course.

He was unlikely to do that, but the question of timing and manner returns. The Parliament's decision did not have to be made for another two weeks, and it did not have to be prompted by a public call from Khamenei. So why do just that on Wednesday?

Look beyond Iran. What occurred yesterday was a Supreme Leader's recognition that his purported "Islamic Awakening" is not producing Tehran's ascendancy in the region. Iran is caught riding the wrong horse in Syria,  and --- with Hamas in particular taking a different approach over its friends and allies --- it risks not having a horse at all in Palestine.

from EA WorldView: EA Iran

Posted via email from lissping