Behind Iran’s leadership tensions
February 12th, 2013
11:39 AM ET

Behind Iran’s leadership tensions

For more What in the World, watch GPS on Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.

By Global Public Square staff

A historic event took place this past week – an Iranian leader visited Egypt for the first time since the 1970s, marking a thaw in relations between two of the Middle East’s heavyweights.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy quite literally laid out the red carpet for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, greeting him with a kiss on each cheek.

But when Ahmadinejad visited a Cairo mosque, he was greeted with a very different Arab tradition – a shoe hurled at him by a protestor. And the head of Egypt’s greatest Islamic center, al-Azhar, warned him to stop meddling in Arab countries. The Iranian president has had a turbulent week, not just in his travels, but, more importantly, at home. Why? Well, try this comparison. We all know President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are not best buddies, but imagine Obama playing a video in the middle of Congress, a video that claims to show Boehner’s brother soliciting a massive bribe.

The Iranian version of that is exactly what happened in Tehran last Sunday. In the middle of a packed house, Ahmadinejad played a secretly filmed video, one of many he claims to have collected. The man at the center of all this was Fazel Larijani. His brother Ari Larijani, the speaker of the parliament, was enraged. The speaker berated the president saying, "You are not allowed to talk anymore." And then, "Please leave. Please leave."

The president of Iran was forced to walk out of parliament. And, remember, he was there to defend his labor minister, who was being impeached. It was the ninth such impeachment procedure in the last eight years. What is going on?

More from GPS: Three possible crises in Iran

Well, in the West, we know Ahmadinejad as the face of the Islamic Republic. He is a globetrotter, dropping by the U.N., Venezuela, Brazil and China. Ahmadinejad has probably become the most recognizable Iranian face in the world. He makes outrageous, provocative statements about everything from gays to Israel to the Holocaust. But back home, he has always been a dangerous opponent of the clerics who actually run the country.

Ahmadinejad, remember, is a lay-person without any spiritual authority, but he is a twice-elected president with populist appeal. Real power rests with the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, the man who controls the revolutionary guards, the military backbone of the regime.

On the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, from what we can tell, Ahmadinejad is actually the moderate. He wants to be the president who negotiates with America, breaks Iran's isolation and makes a deal resolving the nuclear problem.

During his last presidential campaign, he was actually attacked by the opposition leader, Mir Hussein Moussavi, for offering too many concessions to the West.

Well, last week, Ayatollah Khamenei slapped him down. Ahmadinejad and his foreign minister had expressed interest in negotiating directly with the United States responding to comments by Vice President Biden. But Khamenei rejected the process and dismissed people like Ahmadinejad as naive, even wondering if they wanted America to dominate Iran again. So what happens next? Well, Ahmadinejad will step down in June when his term ends. Khamenei remains in control. The Green Movement has been silenced at least for now.

So despite the pressure, isolation and increasing sanctions, Iran remains defiant and the most defiant forces seem firmly in charge. Not a good prospect for a nuclear deal.

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Topics: Iran • What in the World?

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. rightospeak

    This is just more propaganda to villify Iran. As Michael C. Rupert pointed out it is all about oil and drugs-the flow of both to the US. The media just spews out propaganda about Iran and N. Korea to please the rich owners so that we are in endless wars.

    February 12, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      What exactly did you disagree with in the article above? Please realize that as long as there is nothing you disagree with it means that you agree with everything.

      February 12, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Reply
      • rightospeak

        Thinker 23-you are a CNN trall that keeps raining( I am trying to be polite) on people's parades. Please write some positive comments for a change. You must be one of the censors and you went to the bathroom when I wrote the comment . I remember you from previous nasty comments. You are not smart enough for me, they better get somebody smarter. If CNN keeps this up they will just end up with propaganda and garbage.

        February 12, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
      • Thinker23

        You did not answer my question, "rightospeak". I did not ask for your opinion about me. I've asked What exactly did you disagree with in the article above. Please realize that as long as there is nothing you disagree with it means that you agree with everything.

        February 13, 2013 at 6:19 am |
  2. rightospeak

    One can not agree or disagree with propaganda because it is all b.s. to control oil in the Middle East . The danger for you and me lies in WW III which is INSANITY. The world's conquest has been a disaster so far and if we continue we all will suffer . Exposing the truth is the only thing that can save us. Iran has nuclear weapons now so warmongering is like playing with fire. It seems that insane people are in charge of world's affairs and the media.

    February 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      Let me reveal a couple of simple facts:

      1. One side can start and maintain a war but both sides are necessary to make peace. This means that if Iran will start a war there will be a war do you like it or not.
      2. No one will use force against Iran unless as a last resort in case there will be no other way to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons (I do not think that Iran already has such weapons).
      3. If there will be no other way to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or if Iran will attack another country then force will be used and the amount of force will have to be proportional to the goal of making Iran peaceful.

      February 12, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Reply
      • shahin

        "If Iran will start a war"? Lol, if any side is going to start a war it's going to be either Israel or the US. Most likely Iran will advance in its nuclear program to the point that Israel will launch an airstrike which in turn will cause Iran to retaliate. Of course this retaliation will be seen as an act of war (and not the Israeli airstrike).

        the Iranian leaders may look stupid, but they definitely aren't your average arab terrorist goat herders. They did not manage to stay in power for over 30 years by making stupid moves. If they wanted a war with Israel or the US they would have started it long ago. Unlike other dislamists, these mullahs would turn to any ideology in order to stay in power. They're as religious as my left toe, which is exactly why they haven't taken any suicidal actions so far.

        February 12, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
      • Thinker23

        Shahin... As I've explained earlier neither Israel nor the US have any reasons to use force against PEACEFUL Iran. On the other hand, neither Israel nor the US can allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons considering Iranian threats to "erase" Israel from the map and the promises of Iranian leaders to their own people and the neighboring Arab states to make true of these threats using the nukes Iran is developing. Regardless of your opinion about the intelligence of Iranian leaders you'll have to agree that Iranian leaders are doing everything they can to convince the world that they ARE developing nukes and this means that if this process will not be stopped by the leaders of Iran it will have to be stopped by someone else. This, in turn, means that (unless the leaders of Iran are planning to stop their nuclear program in the near future) they ARE going to have a war on their hands sooner rather than later.

        February 12, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
      • tms5510

        Thinker your logic has several problems:
        1- Iranian leaders never promised to bomo Israel or any where else they promised that Israel will vanish which it will because of demographic changes in the future.
        2- Khamenee actaually banned the nukes so he PROMISED to his people that his not building the bomb. Lets for a moment think that Iranian leaders promised that they bomb Israel (which they don't) and also they promised to not build the bomb so how can they bomb Israel without a bomb? Now you may say they will break their PROMISE and go ahead and build the bomb so what prevent them to break the other (claimed but unreal) promise?

        February 13, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • Thinker23

      "One can not agree or disagree with propaganda..." - False. Each one of us can see a STATEMENT as either TRUE or FALSE. The third possibility is to not knowing if it is true or false, of course, but we're not dealing with it here. If you see a statement as TRUE it means that you AGREE with it. If, alternatively, you see a statement as FALSE it means the you DISAGREE with it and that you can support your opinion by some convincing evidence. Refusing to answer a question regarding your agreement or disagreement suggest that you know that answering this question will expose something about you that you're willing to hide.

      February 12, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Reply
  3. Hahahahahahaahah

    It's just a bad burrito that's the cause. Israel has a cure. Hahahahahahahaha

    February 12, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Reply
  4. deniz boro

    After the cencured one I send you a :)

    February 12, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Reply
  5. Lukas

    Reblogged this on THE MOVERS AND SHAKERS and commented:
    Ada analisa menarik dari pakar politik luar negeri Amerika, Fareed Zakaria tentang posisi Ahmadinejad dalam politik Iran.

    Kebanyakan orang Indonesia tertipu dengan aksi teaterikal Ahmadinejad yang sibuk pidato hancurkan Israel. Padahal Ahmadinejad sebenarnya tipe pemimpin yang moderat dan pragmatis. Dalam isu nuklir Iran misalkan, dia malah pelan-pelan membuka pintu dialog dengan Amerika dan mengunakan program nuklir Iran sebagai alat tawar untuk mengangkat sanksi ekonomi dan membuka Iran. Jangan heran dia dikecam habis-habisan oleh kubu radikal dan oposisi dalam pemerintahan Iran sendiri karena dianggap terlalu lunak dan terbuka dengan Amerika.

    Lalu pidato hancurkan Israel di PBB? Ah, itu hanya bluffing saja untuk mengamankan dukungan dalam negeri dan menyenangkan hati kubu radikal.

    February 13, 2013 at 6:33 am | Reply
  6. j. von hettlingen

    Yes, Ahmadinejad has been snubbed at home and humiliated in Cairo lately. His reaction was – as expected – Machiavellian. He grinned and bore it and didn't let himself be disturbed. He had more important thoughts in his head. Although he steps down in June, it would not be the end of his political career. He might build a base for himself and plan for a come-back in a few years.

    February 13, 2013 at 7:27 am | Reply
  7. oscar

    i do believe the united states of America should consider Iran's threat very careful. there are some in Tehran that want freedom .President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,is like a snake, we cannot trust him, but if really want to negotiate in good faith , then that's fine, at least we a moving somewhere, but i doubt it will last as ayatollah is in full control. its a wait and see approach , a spark like the Arab spring within Tehran , can be everyone's freedom , because it will not only free tehran and iran but also bring this world to a nuclear free world.

    February 15, 2013 at 12:52 am | Reply
  8. FreeIran

    I'm glad that "rightospeak" is quiet now and no more conspiracy theory is on the table !!! The situation in Iran has a very clear solution; a democratic, free and a non-nuclear Iran can ONLY be achieved with international support for the NCRI (National Council of Resistance). As a majority of the US congressmen and lawmakers along with thousands of their counterparts in EU have acknowledged, the solution is NOT a foreign military intervention, but implementing harsher sanctions against the Mullahs followed by recognition of the NCRI as a transitional government for 6 months until a UN observed referendum could be held.

    February 16, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Reply
    • amir

      wet dreams by masoud rajavi. NCRI is hated by everyone in Iran. Your masters is the west knows this very well so you can be sure they use you as a paper to clean their asses but finally your place is in the toilet

      February 17, 2013 at 11:30 am | Reply
  9. FreeIran

    Thank you Amir for so clearly representing the Mullahs and their ideology! You well know what is happening in Syria and that's what will happen in Iran, NCRI is the only solution with public support in Iran and now after 30 years every government in the west has acknowledged this too. While Mullahs' supporters such as you are hopelessly trying to taint the NCRI, the Islamic government's fate is coming to a dark end by the NCRI.

    February 17, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Reply

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