Tue, 08/11/2009 - 5:04pm
By Eurasia Group analyst David Bender
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made it through his August 5 inauguration with the regime secure, but he faces a bumpy road ahead. The Iranian government won round one against the opposition through its willingness to use force in the streets, torture in the jails, and heavy propaganda in the media. Based on its apparent calculation that excessive repression will not provoke a revolution, but compromise might, the regime won't let up anytime soon on its crackdown. While this hard-line policy may keep the regime firmly in control for the short term, it leaves it few long-term options. The regime now has neither the legitimacy nor the political capital to effectively rule or institute needed economic reforms.
Iran is less politically stable than it has been at any time since the Islamic Revolution. The regime shows deep internal fractures, even between Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The two are hanging together for now, but if Ahmadinejad becomes too great a liability, Khamenei may have to dump him. Ahmadinejad faces serious challenges, including an increasingly reactionary support base dominated by the hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a wide field of opponents, and wary clerics in Qom. Meanwhile, the parliament is gearing up to challenge the president on a number of technocratic matters. In other words, the impetuous president is under pressure from multiple angles, something that history suggests will push him to become more brash, outspoken, and antagonistic.
Beyond his inflammatory rhetoric, Ahmadinejad needs to bring…..