How to Alienate Your Allies in Iran
Bahari, Maziar, Newsweek
Byline: Maziar Bahari
Attacks on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are coming from unexpected corners. As he arrives in New York to attend the United Nations' General Assembly opening this week, hardliners back home--including some who were once his close allies--are undercutting their former standard-bearer every chance they get.
The hostility became impossible to ignore last month when Iran's Parliament demanded a review of Ahmadinejad's five-year economic plan and the president balked. Weeks of bitter rhetoric ensued, with legislators denouncing him as "dictatorial" and "authoritarian." Amid the uproar, he tried to appoint five officials to act as his personal emissaries around the world, earning not only another parliamentary smackdown but a direct rebuke from Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Those quarrels faded into relative insignificance when the president's office announced plans to free jailed American hiker Sarah Shourd at the end of the holy month of Ramadan. According to Iranian diplomats who asked not to be named, Ahmadinejad wanted to use Shourd's release to show off his authority before the New York trip. "The release of the American was his chance to say that he was really powerful," says one diplomat. …