Jamsheed K. Choksy writes:
Casual Iran observers tend to portray the country’s most prominent political division as that between fundamentalist hard-liners and secular moderates. In reality, however, the struggle for Iran’s future is a three-way fight waged by the different branches of conservatives that control the parliament, the presidency, and the theocracy. The Green Movement may have stalled, but the parliamentary opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has only grown stronger and more assertive over the past year — culminating in a recent push to charge the president with abuses of power warranting impeachment. Those efforts are coming to a halt under orders from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who fears that the parliament’s attempt to assert itself against the president will also be at the expense of his own power base, the country’s conservative mullahs.
In fact, this isn’t the first round of infighting among Iran’s leaders. In July 2009, legislators warned Ahmadinejad that they would seek to oust him as the chief executive if he continued acting in an autocratic manner. Ahmadinejad responded by claiming the executive branch is the most important one of the government.
Ahmadinejad has also clashed with parliamentarians over his prerogative to influence the activities of the Central Bank. As financial hardships mount on common Iranians, in part due to mismanagement and in part from international sanctions, their elected representatives are blaming the president and his bureaucrats for the economy’s woes.
It’s a naked power struggle that has cloaked itself in ideology.
THE CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH OF CHOKSKY’S ARTICLE: “Ordinary Iranians have been the inadvertent beneficiaries of all this political gridlock. Ahmadinejad has used social liberalization as a way to shore up his support over the past year — by encouraging women’s involvement in politics, demanding that youth be free to date and wear clothing of their choice, and similar actions, much to the chagrin of theocrats and parliamentarians. The public has enjoyed greater personal freedoms as a result. Of course, that may only be a temporary reprieve. Domestic unrest over the economy is growing. Whatever their differences, it’s easy to imagine Iran’s warring factions agreeing to put them aside and focus on the real long-term threat to their power: the Iranian people themselves.”