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Collision Course: The United States and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran

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By John E. Carey
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'e'tat 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 is a keen observer and a shrewd man. 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 revolution has both religious and economic elements.

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.
The religous element of the Iranian government often makes for interesting press conferences. On Wednesday, September 6, 2006, Ahmadinejad urged the West on Wednesday to turn to God's path and said failure to do would ensure they faced "no good fate."

Those who do not respond to the invitation (to follow God's will), as we said, will have no good fate," said Ahmadinejad, the second non-cleric to be president of the Islamic Republic.

"I do not threaten anybody, but the whole universe threatens you. The current of life in the universe opposes you, as it opposes tyranny," said Ahmadineja a devout Shi'ite Muslim.

These kind of tendentious pronouncements from Iran's president make many in the west uncomfortable.

Throughout his campaign for president Ahmadinejad referred to various "mafias" controlling many sectors of Iran's economy and his determination to break apart these controlling blocs. Ahmadinejad especially wanted to break apart the oil industry (controlled by Rafsanjani) and the auto industry (overseen by another clique).

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 editions 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."

He 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.

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John E. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.
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