As I’ve said below, this shouldn’t surprise anyone. Iran has a vested interest in keeping Ahmadenijad in power. The reasons are
- They gain some prestige in the Arab/Muslim world by being the defenders of Islam. Never mind that the Koran says that Muslims should be peaceful people.
- The mullahs don’t want to give up on the fight that they have been waging with more moderate elements of Islam. This fight brings them attention and credibility.
- Since the Shah was deposed, it’s become quite clear that the moderates in Iranian society are pushed to the margins, put in prison or run out of the country altogether. When that happens, civil society cannot continue in the way we usually recognize it.
- No amount of back-tracking or climbing down is going to put the Iranians in a better light if they give up their nuclear program. They know the world distrusts them and except for Russia, China and a few other countries, they won’t get much help initially if sanctions aren’t lifted.
Given all of this, I suppose Obama has a bad hand. It’s a hand that has been in the making for over 30 years. I know people will say military action is needed, but the practicalities of doing something on that front are quite thorny. Sanctions might be the only option, but Obama didn’t do himself any favors with the Cairo speech. Why? The moderates in Iran who could effect change from inside have been largely silenced and neutralized. So, the clock keeps ticking…