Okay, maybe that’s a bit too sentimental a way to characterize it, but the Iranian leader’s recent missive to President-elect Barack Obama does speak of spreading “love and kindness.”
In the wake of said letter, it appears Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is receiving somewhat contradictory reviews from members of his own conservative party. Initially, the response from conservative members of parliament including the speaker of the Majlis, Ali Larijani, was negative. A member of the Majlis’ presiding board went so far as to suggest the body might open an investigation into the matter.
However, in a demonstration that political gamesmanship transcends culture, they now seem worried about the appearance of forming a circular firing squad heading into an election year and have begun voicing support for Ahmadinejad, who faces what by all accounts will be a tough contest against former president Mohammad Khatami. The New York Times goes so far as to suggest the flip flop might have been an elaborate attempt to encourage the selection of someone other than Khatami to represent the reformist ticket:
“Maybe the conservatives are signaling to reformers that if they go after Mr. Khatami, they would get unified behind Mr. Ahmadinejad despite their differences with him,” said Badr-al-sadat Mofidi, the deputy editor of the reformist daily Kargozaran. “The unity among conservatives can change if the reformers do not nominate Mr. Khatami.”
If you’re already missing the high-stakes blow-by-blow drama of a presidential election, this would be a good one to keep tabs on for political theater as well as international impact.