You know, lost in the whole US planning on opening up a big old can pf WhoopAss™ on Iran news is a fact that is pretty important, but is relegated to the back burner in a way that resembles the hiding of facts about Iraq a few short years ago.
That little nugget? Iran’s real leaders don’t want this “little nuclear issue” to screw over their nation and lead them to any military conflict.
“Well, duh!” you might think, but the maneuverings behind the scenes in Iran and the political kneecapping of Ahmadinejad over the past few months by many in his own country has gotten scant press here as Bush and Cheney try to single-handedly bring on Armageddon themselves. And don’t you think that the American people, who are already overwhelmingly in support of TALKS with Iran would want to know the truth about the basic politics of Iran’s nuclear program?
At least word is finally trickling out about Iran’s overtures to the US in 2003. Although there was some smartass whose name escapes me who talked in detail about this back in June 2006...
But the significant events that have occurred in Iran since December have really crippled Ahmadinejad politically to a large degree – think of it as something similar to what happened here in November but with an extra layer or two of power. For starters, there was the Iran election back in December which turned out to be a somewhat surprising rebuke of Ahmadinejad:
But it represented the first time the public has weighed in on Mr. Ahmadinejad's stormy presidency since he took office in June 2005. The results, if the trend holds, could pressure Mr. Ahmadinejad to change at least his tone and focus more on high unemployment and other economic problems. Full official results are expected today.
" Mr. Ahmadinejad's list has suffered a decisive defeat nationwide," said the Islamic Iran Participation Front, the largest reformist party. "It is a big no to the government's authoritarian and inefficient methods."
Around two weeks ago, in a diary I did, there was mention of finger pointing regarding the UN Sanctions:
Reformist former President Mohammad Khatami suspended Iran's nuclear work for more than two years in an effort to build confidence and avoid confrontation with the West, but Ahmadinejad's government resumed uranium enrichment in February last year.
"The only way to pass the crisis is to build confidence...but a holding Holocaust conference and financing the Hamas government creates mistrust and tension," Noureddin Pirmoazzen, the spokesman of parliament's reformist faction, told Reuters.
And as we are being treated to reports of how “defiant” Iran’s leader is being regarding UN sanctions (funny how when it is “them” it is being defiant but when it is “us” it is being “strong and resolute”...), there is widespread concern in Iran about Ahmadinejad and how his days “may be numbered”. For starters (and there are many sources from outside the US not linked here due to space), there is this report from Thursday about the open revolt among the leadership:
Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has suffered a potentially fatal blow to his authority after the country's supreme leader gave an apparent green light for parliamentarians to attack his economic policies.
In an unprecedented rebuke, 150 MPs signed a letter blaming Ahmadinejad for raging inflation and high unemployment and criticizing his government's failure to deliver the budget on time. They also condemned him for embarking on a tour of Latin America - from which he was due to return yesterday - at a time of mounting crisis.
One by one – more and more leaders – conservatives AND reformists – are speaking out against the embattled President. Just like another country with a psychopath for a President, I guess. All in the past week, there is news of saner heads speaking out. An OpEd in today’s LA Times states:
The clock may be ticking on Iran's fiery president: Many pragmatic and traditional conservatives, such as former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, who is the secretary of the Council of Guardians, were critical of Ahmadinejad's management of Iran's economic and foreign policies before U.S. military forces recently detained members of the Revolutionary Guard and Iranian intelligence agents in Irbil, Iraq. This incident, coupled with the U.N. Security Council's imposition of sanctions on Iran because of its refusal to abandon its nuclear program, has reportedly prompted 50 parliamentary members to sign a letter calling on Ahmadinejad to appear before parliament to explain himself. There have also been reports that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has given a green light to parliament to criticize the president's performance. Coupled with the country's deteriorating economy, these developments could push Ahmadinejad's opponents to replace him with a less doctrinaire politician.
And while this follows articles in The International Herald Tribune, as well as Reuters (UK) and a small article from last week by the Associated Press mention the rampant criticism by those on all sides of the political spectrum in Iran. Hell, even an OpEd out of Israel mentions this theory:
The Iranian regime is indeed driven by messianic religious ideology and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is set on bringing about Israel's destruction. And yes, Iran is seeking to achieve nuclear capability and is trying to fool the world. And yes, the Islamic republic supports Hizbullah with weapons, know-how, training and funds. But however severe this may be, it does not attest to his intent to use nuclear weapons against Israel.
The Iranians have always displayed political wisdom and a realistic understanding of the limits of power. Moreover, besides Israel and Turkey, Iran is the closest to being a democratic country in the Middle East. Iran is not an absolute dictatorship, and its rulers are also subjected to the rule of law.
Iranian politics have a sophisticated mechanism of balances and restraints to curb the power of its leaders. Iranian President Ahmadinejad is not the state's sovereign. He is obliged to adhere to the rule of the supreme leader (currently Ali Khamenei), and he too is elected by the Assembly of Experts, a group of religious clerics elected through national elections.
Despite these arguments (recently raised by Bernard Lewis) regarding messianic extremism – namely that they would be wiling to sacrifice themselves in the process - the Iranians have no intention of bringing about the total destruction of Iran by their own volition, particularly at the dawn of a new age and at the reappearance of the Imam Mahdi.
So with two countries that have its an extremist leader who is under fire from all sides, who just lost a major election and is dramatically weakened in his poor domestic and foreign policy decisions – two countries with more similarities than we would think – shouldn’t the big story be about how these two leaders can talk all they want but their other political leaders overwhelmingly want to change the course and rhetoric?
Isn’t that just a bit more important than the deadly game of “chicken” that the two extremist leaders are playing? Wouldn’t that give the saner heads a better chance to prevail?