As this article argues, Ahmadinejad’s out-of-proporion comments about Israel and mishandling of the Iranian foreign policy, has led the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to get directly involved in foreign policy and let Ahmadinejad handle internal issues.
I would like to clarify some of the recent developments in Iranian politics:
1. Ahmadinejad’s campaign for presidency focused mainly on improvement of the economic status inside Iran, fighting corruption and funneling the oil money into people’s hands. There was little if any mention of foreign policy issues, as they were being handled well already.
2. There’s a growing anger in Iran about Ahmadinejad’s performance. The economic conditions have only worsened, Ahmadinejad’s tough stance on Israel have created fear among the people and the elite about the possibility of a war against Iran. Quite honestly, if one did a poll across Iran today, I would bet that the majority of people would have NO IDEA what Holocaust is. I mean the second World War and Israel are so irrelevant to an Iranian’s life that almost every politician in Iran, reformist and hardliner alike, are wondering what it means to blow these things up.
3. The Iranian Parliament has sent multiple messages to the Cabinet asking for explanations on the economic and foreign policies and some MPs have proposed impeaching Ahmadinejad.
4. According to the Iranian Constitution, the person ultimately in charge of foreign policy is the supreme leader, NOT the president (Ahmadinejad) or his government. The Supreme Leader is also the Commander-in-Chief and the president has no control whatsoever on the armed forces.
5. It seems that the Supreme Leader, based on an assessment of the status quo, has personally taken charge of foreign policy. Unusually, the person sent from Iran to meet with Vladimir Putin and deliver Iran’s message to Russia is not the Iranian foreign minister or ambassador to Russia, but a former minister with no official status in the government who’s known to be very close to Mr. Khamenei, i.e. Mr. Velayati.
6. Larijani, the Iranian Top Nuclear Negotiator, is also known to be very close to Mr. Khamenei and is now traveling to Munich, where he is to meet top officials including Javier Solana, and perhaps even indirectly talk to Americans.
Given all these developments, it seems that Khamenei’s more pragmatic approach is going to help change things a bit and, hopefully, prevent a potential war.