October 26th, 2011
11:03 AM ET

Bakshi: Rounding up Iran

By Amar C. Bakshi, CNN

There's been a lot of exciting Iran content on GPS over the past week. You can read it all here. But to help guide you, here's a quick run through of what all has been going on:

Last week, Fareed Zakaria traveled to Iran to interview President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Fareed's trip occurred just weeks after the United States accused Iran of plotting to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. and just as President Obama announced the upcoming withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Fareed considered the former a sign of Iran's militarization and the latter a strategic boon to Tehran.

Fareed was in Iran at a time when its leadership is locked in an internal power struggle with President Ahmadinejad up against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. This has led one GPS analyst to ask whether Ahmadinejad will effectively be Iran's last president.

And as the winds of change sweep the Arab World, they seem to stop at Iran's borders. Here are some reasons why there hasn't been an 'Iranian Spring'. But clearly discontent bubbles within.  Just look at this surprising bestselling book in Tehran.

Fareed found Iran surprisingly clean and its urban women relatively liberated. He spoke with analysts in Iran who explained why, despite what Westerners might expect, Ahmadinejad is actually a reformer when compared with the Ayatollah. And Fareed saw the effect of sanctions up close.

The interview with President Ahmadinejad was striking as well.  The President offered a rather unique interpretation of Zionismproposed an odd political experiment and defended his country's soft policies toward Syria. As expected, he denied Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions and condemned the United States for myriad alleged wrongs. And Ahmadinejad argued that NATO's mission in Libya exacerbated the conflict.

We've been paying a lot of attention to Iran over the past few weeks. You can read all our coverage here. In the coming days, we'll be presenting some broader analytical pieces to make sense of it all. I invite you to join us in sharing your impressions and analyses below.

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Topics: Iran

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