While reading these few excerpts from this profile of Iran’s president – a certifiable whacko who seems to thinks God admires conflict and destruction – see if someone else, as well as reaction to him, a bit closer to home doesn’t leap to mind.
The nuclear issue has provided fertile ground for the president to try to cultivate a new political class, one that is ideologically driven to provide a new, and at the same time reactionary, face to Iran.
“You get the feeling that Iran, under the present leadership, is looking for isolation and to go it alone,” said a Western diplomat based in Tehran who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as to be able to continue working here. “They want to show their way is the right way, and the former guys were wrong.”
Mr. Ahmadinejad and his allies have demonstrated that they are undeterred by the complaints of the establishment, whether liberal or conservative. They have instead taken their appeal directly to the … masses.
Mr. Ahmadinejad was largely unknown when he ran for office in June…. When he was elected, he was expected to fall into lockstep with the conservative forces that controlled every other institution of government. Instead, he has charted his own course.
Mr. Ahmadinejad has come to represent a generational split among conservatives, some political analysts said. They said he belonged to a group of ideologically conservative veterans of the Iran-Iraq war who effectively parked themselves among the so-called hard-liners.
With his team around him, Mr. Ahmadinejad has become the public face of Iran: aggressive, provocative and heatedly anti-American.
“If it wasn’t for the foreign pressures, perhaps Mr. Ahmadinejad, and his ministers, would have been called to the Majlis many times to explain themselves,” said Akbar Alami, a member of the foreign affairs committee of the Majlis, or Parliament, and an outspoken critic of the president. “As the pressure has increased, the safety margins for him to operate have widened.”
There is ample evidence that many powerful people within the establishment are still worried by the tone and direction Mr. Ahmadinejad has taken. And some people speculated that the supreme leader might in the end muzzle him, should consequences turn out to be too dire. But for now, hampered by nationalist reaction to the West’s pressure on Iran, even some of his harshest critics are treading lightly.
From the sidelines, reformers are now trying to regroup. Many of them say that the best factor in their favor is the president himself. The feeling is that the president can not, ultimately, meet all his economic promises, and that his policy of confrontation will undermine rather than improve people’s lives.
But so far the president has the upper hand.
The article could have ended by putting “president” in the plural.