Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ahmadinejad Defies Ayatollah on Vice President

It turns out that Ahmadinejad's first new cabinet nominee (for the post of first vice president) is Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, who caused stir and anger among the "right wing" of Iran last year for his remark that the Iranians are friends with the Israelis: Borzou Daragahi, "Ahmadinejad Defies Ayatollah on Vice President" (Los Angeles Times, 22 July 2009).

In the Iranian diaspora as well as the Western media, Ahmadinejad is often characterized as "hard-line," "conservative," "anti-Western," etc. But I rather think that he is just his own man -- really one of a kind in Iran, very idiosyncratic, sometimes in good ways (as in this case), sometimes in bad ways (as in his statements on the Holocaust).

2 comments:

Sahbaa said...

As someone who supports the left I enjoyed reading your critical stances but I'd like to say your impression from Ahmadinejad is far from the reality. I think you should notice that he and his government have this populust approach towards politic whereby every now and again they come up with some contovertial ideas to convert the minds from the real and critical issues at hand. There's no substance behind their claims it is only a diversion.

Yoshie said...

We are roughly on the same page regarding the limits of "populism from above" in general, which is further compounded by the limits of presidential power in the case of Iran.

I do think, though, the whole Mashaei affair is interesting and worthy of attention, since responses to Mashaei are an indication of hard-line opinions, high and low in society.

Some in the West (and probably also in Iran) thought that, if Mousavi had gotten elected, there would have been a friendlier relation between Iran and the West. But the West expects Iran to change its policy toward Israel before the West normalizes its relation with Iran. The Mashaei affair shows how big the obstacle to any such change is inside Iran.