A rift is emerging between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, suggesting that the president no longer enjoys the ayatollah’s full backing, as he did in the years after his election in 2005.
In the past, when Mr. Ahmadinejad was attacked by his political opponents, criticisms were usually silenced by Ayatollah Khamenei, who has the final word on state matters and regularly endorsed the president in public speeches. But that public support has been conspicuously absent in recent months.
There are numerous possible reasons for Mr. Ahmadinejad’s loss of support, but analysts here all point to one overriding factor: the United States National Intelligence Estimate last month, which said Iran had suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003 in response to international pressure. The intelligence estimate sharply reduced the threat of a military strike against Iran, allowing the Iranian authorities to focus on domestic issues, with important parliamentary elections looming in March.
“Now that Iran is not under the threat of a military attack, all contradictions within the establishment are surfacing,” said Saeed Leylaz, an economic and political analyst. “The biggest mistake that Americans have constantly made toward Iran was adopting radical approaches which provided the ground for radicals in the country to take control.” [complete article]