Hooman Majd, journalist and author of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, understands Iran more than almost anyone in the U.S. journalism circuit. A Western-educated descendant of an ayatollah, Majd has written and spoken extensively on Iran for the American press but also served as translator for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 2006 UN speech. Last year, Majd eloquently disabused us of some common notions about the Iranian President.
Today, in light of the news that Ahmadinejad is lashing out at his political rivals, Majd talked to Big Think once again about this “masterful politician” who does not “have the leeway he once did, although it is not apparent that he realizes [it] yet.”
Majd writes to Big Think:
President Ahmadinejad has displayed some of his ruthlessness in the past few months: his refusal to compromise, and even his disdain of the authority above him. Although he is a masterful politician, the lack of the credibility he had in his first term means he will not have the leeway he once did, although it is not apparent that he realizes that yet.
[Ahmadinejad] still has the ability to charm the public, or at least his fans, as is evidenced by his TV appearances defending his cabinet choices, for example. But his relentless moves to crush his opposition, in the face of resistance even by the Supreme Leader, may backfire on him, and he could lose the support of many Iranians who may have voted for him but no longer believe the narrative that their one-time leaders are traitors to the Revolution.
It is far too early to tell where all of this goes, but what is clear is that there will be tension at the highest levels of the Iranian government for quite some time, and that Ahmadinejad will not be able to maneuver as well politically as he has done in the past when he was effective in denouncing most criticism as sour grapes over the loss of privilege.