Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The real Ahmadinejad

This is my first post about Iran. It will not be my last. In fact I intend to blog more about the "Persian Puzzle" than any other country. I have much to say about the country I did my thesis on, have travelled all over and have many friends from. Suffice it to say for now that I believe it to be the single most misunderstood country in the world. I will qualify this in later posts.

Lets start with the basics, Iran's eccentric president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. There is a bizarre obsession in the western media, particularly in American with this guy. Perhaps its not surprising as many news outlets in the states are more interested in ratings than news so a controversy junkie like Ahmadinejad is their dream come true. However this obsession obstructs reality and confuses the issue. Ahmadinejad is not the leader of Iran. He is president of the parliament, a position that has very little influence over Iranian foreign policy. The Iranian constitution places the Council of Guardians, a body of 12 religious clerics led by the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni above the Parliament. The council has the authority to veto any bill or prevent any candidate from running for office, a privilege they regularly take advantage of. Ahmadinejad does not control the Judiciary or the military. The truth be told, he doesn't make it into a list of the top 20 most powerful people in the country,

I will elaborate on the complicated power structure in Iran in future posts but the ultimate point I want to make is this. If Iran is intent on developing nuclear weapons, if they are behind the insurgency in Iraq and if they are hell bent on dominating the Lebanon in order to attack Israel, all these policies are not being driven by Ahmadinejad. Obsessing with him and his rants is a distraction.

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