Iran has a unique structure of political rule: bureaucratic-collectivist government, in which the Leader balances interests and ambitions of various political factions, which represent different constituencies and are often in open conflict with one another. It's unlike both liberal democracy and state socialism. Quite interesting, actually. I can't think of any other government so factionalized.
What's the main difference among the factions in foreign policy?
Ahmadinejad would rather side with Latin socialists of Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and so on than with the Western power elites; Rafsanjani, Khatami, Qalibaf, etc. would rather side with the Western power elites than with Latin socialists if only Washington let them. It is difficult to figure out where Ali Khamenei stands.
Reformists, whom many Western liberals and leftists love, think little of Latin socialists: "'Do you really assume people like Chavez (and) Ortega . . . can be Iran's strategic allies?' the reformist daily Etemad-e-Melli said in an editorial Tuesday addressing Ahmadinejad" (emphasis added, Ali Akbar Dareini, "Iran's Discontent With Ahmadinejad Grows," Associated Press, 17 January 2007).
Chavez said to Ahmadinejad: «Es usted uno de los grandes luchadores antimperialistas de esta hora, de este cambio de época que amanece en el horizonte del planeta» (Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias, "Ahmadineyad es uno de los más grandes luchadores antiimperialistas," 27 September 2007). I.e., "You are one of the greatest anti-imperialist fighters today, this time of change of epoch that is dawning on the horizon of the planet."
We do live in interesting times, when Bretton Woods II may be slowly but surely unraveling, indeed a change of epoch, though not of mode of production.
The question is whether the Iranian people think like Chavez or the combined factions of reformists, Rafsanjaniasts, and technocratic neo-conservatives. If most of them think like the former, Iran will be a key nation for Non-Alignment of the 21st Century; if they think like the latter, Iran will be just another nation in the global South.