Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has created a world-storm, but things aren’t going all his way. Power, including the conduct of foreign policy, is in any case in the hands of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, known as the Supreme Leader, and himself chosen by a special clerical body. In recent elections to that body, Ahmadinejad and his friends lost ground. Inflation and unemployment are both running around 30 percent. Gasoline rationing is due to begin in March. Demonstrations are met with force, and the prisons are full. But Ahmadinejad wants nuclear power above all else, and seemingly will carry on his war dance regardless of national and international opinion. The Security Council has imposed sanctions on Iran, but he dismisses these as a ‘rusty instrument’ and ‘a piece of torn paper,’ nicely mixing metaphors. The newspaper that reflects the Supreme Leader’s views has come out criticizing Ahmadinejad’s diplomacy for the way it has antagonized so many interests, and in another leading newspaper the man in charge of nuclear negotiations presses Ahmadinejad to end his involvement in the nuclear program. Perhaps they’ve noticed the reinforced American battle group in the Persian Gulf.
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