Ahmadinejad's support weakening

Tonington

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Iran: The Backlash Begins
By Robert Tait
AMID THE chaos of confused global weather fronts, uncommonly cold temperatures have gripped Tehran in recent weeks. This freeze provides a suitable metaphor for the rapidly cooling feelings many Iranians have towards President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


Just as the Iranian capital has been shivering in the winter freeze Ahmadinejad has started to feel the unmistakable chill of public disaffection. Having become accustomed to the warmth of mass acclaim at a series of nationwide open-air rallies, the Islamist firebrand is now discovering the limits of his popularity.


Criticism was easy to dismiss when it was limited to intellectuals and political reformists. Ahmadinejad countered by resorting to straightforward repressiveness, sacking liberal university lecturers and closing reformist newspapers. But now voters have started to turn against a man whose political strength lay in his populist appeal.


Last month, rising discontent over his government's failing economic policies led to a drubbing at the polls. In nationwide council elections, candidates supporting the president gained just 20% of the vote. Only two Ahmadinejad loyalists - including his sister Parvin - won seats on the 15-member Tehran city council, often seen as a key indicator of political trends across the country.


The results coincided with a political comeback for Hashemi Rafsanjani, Ahmadinejad's most powerful rival and his defeated opponent in the 2005 presidential election. Rafsanjani, a sharp critic of the president's strident anti-Western rhetoric, topped the poll in elections to the experts' assembly, a clerical body empowered to supervise and appoint Iran's supreme leader.
But the most ominous sign that the political tide is turning against Ahmadinejad is that many of his friends have started to desert him.


Having built an international status on baiting the West, the president is in danger of becoming a scapegoat for the increasing isolation Iran faces over its nuclear programme - which the West suspects is designed for bomb-making despite Iranian denials.


After months of deliberation, the UN security council last month imposed limited sanctions over Iran's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. This process can be used to produce power. Critics blame the president's strident rhetoric and resistance to compromise for uniting the security council against Iran. The influential website Aftab claimed last week that Ahmadinejad effectively killed any chance of a deal between the country's nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, by declaring that Iran would not suspend enrichment for "even one day".
"This remark prepared the circumstances for the recent security council resolution against Iran," the website stated.


More worrying still for the president was the fact that fundamentalist newspaper Jomhouri Eslami - which often reflects the views of the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - accused Ahmadinejad of adopting the nuclear issue as a personal slogan to deflect attention from his government's economic failings.


"Turning the nuclear issue into a propaganda slogan gives the impression that you, for the sake of covering up flaws in the government, are exaggerating its importance," the paper said. "This is harmful for you and your government.
"The nuclear programme goes beyond governments and tastes and is a national issue. If people get the impression that the government is exaggerating the nuclear case to divert attention from their demands, you will cause this national issue to lose public support."


The warning followed criticism by MPs that a conference staged last month questioning the holocaust - organised to bolster Ahmadinejad's dismissal of the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis as a "myth" - had damaged the national interest.


At a closed session of the conservative-dominated parliament, members denounced the event as "inappropriate" and "unnecessary", and said it had directly influenced the UN's decision to impose sanctions on Iran.
For the president's opponents the welter of criticism means only one thing. "It's a sign that the golden age and honeymoon of Ahmadinejad with the people is over," said Isa Saharkhiz, a journalist and political activist. "He is in a position where not only his critics but many of his followers are trying to distance themselves from his stances and actions. His rivals in the last presidential election will have a more vital role in the country's future."


Ahmadinejad left the winter blizzard of criticism behind yesterday for a four-day visit to Latin America, where he will meet President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Daniel Ortega, the newly inaugurated Nicaraguan president, and Rafael Correa, who is sworn in today as Ecuador's president. With all three men, he shares a unyielding hostility towards America.


That may be enough to ensure him a warm reception on his travels - but he will find the climate distinctly chilly on his return home.



http://www.sundayherald.com/
 

RomSpaceKnight

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For a time moderates appeared to be gaining the upper hand in Iranian politics only to be quashed by radical clerics. I was actually surprised he and his ilk got in to power. Probably more to a public backlash against western imperialistic actions and views. It's just a matter of time before common sense works it's way back in to Iranian politics and he is turfed. Real change may be a ways off yet until moderate clerics get control of ruling councils. A classic example of church interference in politics.
 

gopher

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[SIZE=-1]```[/SIZE]For a time moderates appeared to be gaining the upper hand in Iranian politics only to be quashed by radical clerics.```

Actually, Ahmadinejad is a member of the Islamic Society of Engineers. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini heads the Assembly of Experts and is religiously moderate. His group supported moderate Hashemi Rafsanjani in the election won by Ahmadinejad.

My own sense is that moderate Rafsanjani will remerge as the leader of Iran in the next federal election. The reason being is that Iran is a highly literate, greatly educated society and the majority of its populace recognizes that the nation must have economic and political dealings with the West if it is to further progress.

True, Ahmadinejad has succeeded in making good alliances and signing accords with Russia, China, and with Venezuela. Iran's future looks very good. But it can do even better if it will accept moderation in its day-to-day social-religious-political affairs. The highly literate populace is well aware of that and this is why they will vote into office a more progressive government.

However, if the USA and Israel invade before that happens, it may lead to ultra orthodox entrenchment. Knowing Bush and neo-KKKon desires for war, it would not surprise me if they want to provoke Iran in order to insure extremism and warism.
 

Tonington

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However, if the USA and Israel invade before that happens, it may lead to ultra orthodox entrenchment. Knowing Bush and neo-KKKon desires for war, it would not surprise me if they want to provoke Iran in order to insure extremism and warism.

That's what I thought too. Hopefully those aircraft carrier groups don't stay in the gulf too long...I know a girl at school from Iran, she has repeatedly told me that if Iran is left alone, things will work out. They grow tired of the short mouthy fella running his mouth all over the place. It would be nice if some moderate clerics get the power.

I like to use the poking lion with a stick analogy in cases like this.
 

RomSpaceKnight

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The US will not attack Iran. The Isrealis might. If Iran looks to be seriously trying to attempt joining the Nuclear Weapons Owners club. A US attack on Iran would be met with total popular support. Some Iranians may not like their current regime but they will all unite to drive out the yanks. I pray to the gods that the US is not that stupid or shortsighted.
 

gc

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Actually, Ahmadinejad is a member of the Islamic Society of Engineers. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini heads the Assembly of Experts and is religiously moderate. His group supported moderate Hashemi Rafsanjani in the election won by Ahmadinejad.

I wouldn't call Khameini a moderate. If he was, Khatami would have actually been able to accomplish what he wanted to do....reform.

The rest of your post is bang on though...

My own sense is that moderate Rafsanjani will remerge as the leader of Iran in the next federal election. The reason being is that Iran is a highly literate, greatly educated society and the majority of its populace recognizes that the nation must have economic and political dealings with the West if it is to further progress.

True, Ahmadinejad has succeeded in making good alliances and signing accords with Russia, China, and with Venezuela. Iran's future looks very good. But it can do even better if it will accept moderation in its day-to-day social-religious-political affairs. The highly literate populace is well aware of that and this is why they will vote into office a more progressive government.

However, if the USA and Israel invade before that happens, it may lead to ultra orthodox entrenchment. Knowing Bush and neo-KKKon desires for war, it would not surprise me if they want to provoke Iran in order to insure extremism and warism.

What many people don't understand is that most Iranians are moderate. Many people don't realize that Khatami (reformist) received about 80% of the vote in two elections. Unfortunately, invading Iraq was just about the worst thing the U.S. could have done to achieve reform/peace with Iran. Imagine if George Bush named your country one of three countries in the "axis of evil". Now, imagine the following year, one of those three countries was invaded (and only one of two without nuclear weapons), it's understandable that in this situation you just might start to worry about being invaded, and just might get a little bit defensive...perhaps defensive enough to elect a nutjob as President, so long as he spews anti-American rhetoric and so long you believe he is the best person to defend the country from invasion...with nukes if necessary. But I do have hope for the future...Iran probably now sees the quagmire in Iraq and figures they are relatively safe from invasion, and will hopefully return to the path of reform that they were on. I sure hope so anyway.
 

gopher

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Reformist Khatami got about 70 % but it was, as you say, a very clear majority. Indeed, this reflects the fact that a great many Iranians are moderate and reformist. The hard liners, however, have exploited news of Bush and Israeli threats to stir up public anxiety. A clever and successful tactic as history shows.

Moderate Rafsanjani was often viewed as a wealthy elitist whose goal was in promoting the interests of fellow elitists. This is why he lost so many supporters in favor of hardliner Ahmadinejad.

While the next election is a couple of years away, the two key factors as to who will win are, 1) Bush and neoKKKon threats and meddling, and, 2) which candidate will get Ayatollah Khamenei's support.

Like you, I am hoping that the populace will again take a reformist direction.

Time will tell.
 

gopher

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Another Reason Why Support Is Waning: Economics

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1991176,00.html


President's future in doubt as MPs rebel and economic crisis grows



[FONT=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif] Robert Tait in Tehran
Tuesday January 16, 2007
The Guardian


[/FONT] 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 MPs to attack his economic policies.In an unprecedented rebuke, 150 parliamentarians signed a letter blaming Mr Ahmadinejad for raging inflation and high unemployment and criticising 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 returns tomorrow - at a time of mounting crisis.

Article continues


The signatories included a majority of the president's former fundamentalist allies, now apparently seeking to distance themselves as his prestige wanes.MPs also criticised Mr Ahmadinejad's role in the UN security council dispute over Iran's nuclear programme amid growing evidence that the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has ordered him to stay silent on the issue.
The supreme leader, who was hitherto loyal to the president, is said to blame Mr Ahmadinejad for last month's UN resolution imposing sanctions over Iran's refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment.
Ayatollah Khamenei has ultimate authority on foreign policy, and is rumoured to be so disillusioned with Mr Ahmadinejad's performance that he has refused to meet him on occasion.
In a further indicator, Mohammad Reza Bahonar, the leader of parliament's fundamentalists and a former lieutenant who helped the president choose his cabinet, denounced Mr Ahmadinejad's economic policies as "wrong" and told him to stop blaming others.
Impeached
The mounting criticism is fuelling speculation that Mr Ahmadinejad is politically doomed. Observers have even suggested he might be impeached and removed from office.
"Ahmadinejad's golden era is over and his honeymoon with the supreme leader is finished. He has problems even meeting the supreme leader," said an Iranian political commentator, Eesa Saharkhiz. "The countdown to his dismissal has already begun. There is a probability that he cannot even finish his current four-year period."
Signs of Mr Ahmadinejad's declining stock have emerged less than a month after a crushing defeat in local authority elections, when only a fifth of his supporters won seats. His most powerful political rival, Hashemi Rafsanjani, also topped the poll in elections to the expert's assembly, a body empowered to appoint and supervise the supreme leader. Mr Rafsanjani has been a vocal critic of the president's strident anti-western rhetoric and has urged compromise on the nuclear issue.
Pragmatists within the Islamic leadership claim that Mr Ahmadinejad's inflammatory rhetoric, including a declaration that Iran would not suspend uranium enrichment for "even one day", sank any chance of a deal.
Two recent newspaper articles suggested that this is now the official view.
Jomhouri Islami, which has previously carried unsigned articles by the ayatollah, accused Mr Ahmadinejad of endangering public support for the nuclear programme by hijacking it as a personal cause to disguise his government's economic failings.
"Turning the nuclear issue into a propaganda slogan gives the impression that you, to cover up flaws in the government, are exaggerating its importance. If people get the impression that the government is exaggerating the nuclear case to divert attention from their demands, you will cause this national issue to lose public support," the newspaper wrote.
The newspaper, Hamshari, whose director, Hossein Entezami, is a member of Iran's nuclear negotiating team, was more blunt: "At the very moment when the nuclear issue was about to move away from the UN security council, the fiery speeches of the president have resulted in the adoption of two resolutions [against Iran]."
Reminder
"Jomhouri Islami is the affirming voice of Iran's political system and of the wishes of the supreme leader and high-ranking officials, so its criticism of Ahmadinejad's political behaviour smacks of a serious reminder to him," said Mohammad Atrianfar, director of the recently banned reformist newspaper Shargh.
An uncharacteristically subdued response by the president to last Thursday's seizure by US forces of five Iranian citizens in Iraq - described by the Tehran government as "diplomats" - is being seen as a sign that warnings are being heeded.
But Iran's deepening economic woes, which prompted Sunday's letter from MPs, suggest that the worst may have yet to come for a man elected on promises to raise living standards and distribute the nation's oil wealth more evenly.
Those pledges jar with increasingly grim realities. Inflation is higher than when Mr Ahmadinejad took office 17 months ago, while unemployment, officially estimated at 12% but probably much higher, has not improved.
Uncontrolled inflation has resulted in soaring food prices and has had a drastic effect on the housing market. Anecdotal evidence suggests house prices and rents in Tehran have risen 50% in six months.
In a poignant development, the government plans to ration petrol to cut rising import costs incurred by Iran's lack of refinery capacity. The proposal gives an ironic twist to Mr Ahmadinejad's election promise to put the country's oil wealth "on people's tables".
The president's growing army of opponents blame the situation on the government's chaotic approach. The failure to deliver a budget bill on time is being attributed to Mr Ahmadinejad's decision to disband the management and planning organisation, a government agency responsible for setting spending priorities but which upset the president by opposing some of his costlier proposals.
Critics believe the economic situation is urgent and that Mr Ahmadinejad's place is at home and not in Latin America.
Backstory
One hundred and fifty of Iran's 290 MPs signed the letter condemning President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's economic policies. Government figures put the inflation rate at 10-15%. Anecdotal experience suggests that the figure is higher. More than 17 million Iranians voted for the president in his election victory over Hashemi Rafsanjani in June 2005. However, the country's supreme leader - the most powerful figure in its theocratic system - is chosen by clerics. The supreme leader has the final say on foreign affairs, military matters and a range of other areas. Mr Ahmadinejad's four-day tour of Latin America took him to Venezuela, to meet President Hugo Chávez, to Nicaragua, where he met President Daniel Ortega, and to Ecuador, where he attended President Rafael Correa's inauguration. All three men share the Iranian president's hostility to Washington and President George Bush.






Imagine! Ahmadinejad impeached??? Even in the USA such talk about Bush isn't openly spoken about by pols. Looks like Iran is far more reform minded than most Westerners believe!