Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Shift Away From Ahlmadinejad in Iran

Much of the media seems to continually portray Iran as a country run by 'mad mullahs' intent on the destruction of Israel and the West. Given the current appetite for an attack on Iran, this is perhaps unsurprising. Whenever there is talk of destabilisation, Iran's name nearly always crops up. The truth is, as always, a little more complicated than that.

As reported in today's Guardian, the supreme leader of Iran is growing increasingly distant from the current President. The recent election defeats for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have had a damaging effect on the President's credibility. This has been reflected in the recent shift in position by the supreme leader. After receiving a signed letter by 150 parliamentarians, Khamenei is sure to distance himself further from the President. He is said to be blaming the recent UN resolution imposing sanctions on Ahmadinejad, and has even refused to meet with him on occasion. According to one Iranian political commentator:

"Ahmadinejad's golden era is over and his honeymoon with the supreme leader is finished. He has problems even meeting the supreme leader. The countdown to his dismissal has already begun. There is a probability that he cannot even finish his current four-year period."

In the meantime, Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has been critical of the President's policies, has seen his stock grow with the Iranian people. As a result of the recent council elections, Rafsanjani received over 1.5 million votes recording a massive victory over Ahlmadinejad's supporters and this was a crushing blow for his radical agenda.

It is clear that the recent hardline approach by the President is not shared by many of those who really hold the power in Iran. However, it is also clear that any attack on Iran by an outside party could lead to disastrous consequences for the region. Iran is now seen as the real power in the region by many political observers. The war in Iraq removed their greatest threat and the war in Lebanon further consolidated their position in the region. Furthermore, their relationship with the PA is also strengthening in light of the sanctions placed on Hamas. The problem is that, with all these factors, we have played a major part in strengthening the role of Iran within the region. We invaded Iraq, we stood by and watched the destruction of Lebanon and we enforced sanctions on Hamas. All these events have made Iran, not the US, the major power in the region.

It is clear that the US is keen to reassert it's authority in the region, and perhaps an attack on Iran is at the forefront of their minds. After all, there is only room for one major power in the region. Taking any action against Iran would lead to a situation that few of us could ever comprehend. Recent history has taught us the effects of meddling in the political affairs of another country, we would do well to heed those lessons.