Saturday, April 01, 2006

Angles on Iran

Tigerhawk reports on a roundtable discussion on the Iran crisis. Some scary stuff to chew on.

Ahmadinejad is not a particularly saavy person, and was quite surprised, perhaps, by his own election. Power seems to have seduced him rather quickly, and he appears to enjoy being provocative without having a real awareness of how his outrageous statements have hurt Iran's standing and polarized Western public opinion against Iran. He is a parochial person who had never been beyond the borders of Iran, and has an very, very deep distrust of the West. Unlike the reformists, or even the centrist technocrats such as Rafsanjani, Ahmadinejad does not even have a willingness to deal with the West.

He does not have a strong political base, and did not do what he might have done, which was to spend the surging oil revenues on big public works projects.

He also has a rather fascinating obsession with the return of the "hidden Imam," which he says will return from a well in the ground south of Tehran, perhaps imminently.

Ahmadinejad is increasingly thought of as a loon within Iran, even among the elites, and he is not in a strong position. Ansari quoted an Iranian diplomat, who was amazed that Ahmadinejad thinks that he dazzled the United Nations with his oratory: "If he goes on like this we won't have to worry because the ayatollahs will get him." Ansari says that people are beginning to wonder whether he is leading the country.