September 6, 2006
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the mayor of Tehran. When he became president of Iran in 2005, one of the smartest observers of Iran in the United States wrote, "This was a coup d'état led by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It was foreseeable as soon as it became known that between 66 and 70 of the new members of the majlis (parliament) elected in February 2004 were members of the Revolutionary Guards militia – enough to give these forces, and the ruling elite, control of the institution."
The analyst (who remains anonymous for his own safety) wrote, "In the presidential election, the coup extended to the executive branch."
Ahmadinejad is a second-generation revolutionary. He witnessed first hand the corrupt practices of the first-generation revolutionaries – most of whom are now 70 and older – and how the latter have become rich and powerful.
The first generation revolutionaries wanted to spread the wealth in a more appropriate way. Before them, the Shah and his henchmen made all the money. Now they wanted to become rich.
Part of the key to achieving this end was to establish a rigidly loyal religious following. This fuels the Islamic extremism. Today's announcement by Ahmadinejad that he was dismissing soft, non extreme or "corrupt" professors is part of the scheme to enforce fiercely loyal Islamic extremism and order.
But Ahmadinejad economic ambitions have not all proved successful (naturally, the owners of economic power have not relinquished it gracefully).
Michael Slackman wrote in the New York Times in May 2006 that, "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is trying to consolidate power in the office of the presidency in a way never before seen in the 27-year history of the Islamic Republic."
One of the ways Ahmadinejad can rise in stature is to defy the west – especially the United States. Consequently, sometimes it is not clear how much progress he is really making on his nuclear projects. He might just be inciting a fight with the west.
In the Jerusalem Post editorions on September 6, 2006, Amir Taheri wrote, "The state-owned media in Teheran are conducting a psychological campaign to prepare the public for a long crisis if not actual war."
Ahmadinejad knows he may not win a prolonged military action. But he is heartened by how long it has taken the United States to assert order and calm in Iraq.
He also knows a divided United States can be defeated. Says Taheri, "The failure of Americans to develop bipartisan positions even on issues of vital national interest, plays into the hands of adventurers like Ahmadinejad."
Naturally, Ahmadinejad is the architect of disorder and unrest in Iraq. Iran wants Iraq, a nation with which it waged an eight year war (1980-88), in the Iranian sphere. Who wouldn't want a neighbor to the west with similar extremist Islamic leanings?
Since Washington has had no diplomatic relations with Iran since 1979, Washington is unable to talk directly to Ahmadinejad and his government. To do so now would only raise Ahmadinejad's prestige and give him a free "win" in the diplomatic shell game.Ahmadinejad know this.
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