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Atlantic: Do We Have Ahmadinejad All Wrong?

Author: Reza Aslan, Adjunct Senior Fellow
January 9, 2011

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Writing in The Atlantic, Reza Aslan analyzes recent revelations in WikiLeaks cables that expose an inner conflict between more established, conservative elements in Iranian government and an Ahmadinejad that advocated concessions on nuclear programs and democratic freedoms.

Is it possible that Iran's blustering president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, long thought to be a leading force behind some of Iran's most hard-line and repressive policies, is actually a reformer whose attempts to liberalize, secularize, and even "Persianize" Iran have been repeatedly stymied by the country's more conservative factions? That is the surprising impression one gets reading the latest WikiLeaks revelations, which portray Ahmadinejad as open to making concessions on Iran's nuclear program and far more accommodating to Iranians' demands for greater freedoms than anyone would have thought. Two episodes in particular deserve special scrutiny not only for what they reveal about Ahmadinejad but for the light they shed on the question of who really calls the shots in Iran.

In October 2009, Ahamdinejad's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, worked out a compromise with world power representatives in Geneva on Iran's controversial nuclear program. But the deal, in which Iran agreed to ship nearly its entire stockpile of low enriched uranium to Russia and France for processing, collapsed when it failed to garner enough support in Iran's parliament, the Majles.http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/01/do-we-have-ahmadinejad-all-wrong/69434/

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