Iran's Ahmadinejad wants talks with West. Iran's hard-liners balk.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said this week he's open to talks, has lost the backing he enjoyed in the immediate aftermath of last year's election.
Since his arrival in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's flamboyant commentary has kept much of the world fixated on Tehran's controversial nuclear program and external political disputes.Skip to next paragraph
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But such tactics have steered public attention away from Iran's more vulnerable concerns, such as the country's shaky economy, a harsh crackdown on journalists and opposition figures, and internal rivalries that could complicate Mr. Ahmadinejad's apparent willingness to relaunch nuclear talks with the West and reconcile with the US after more than 30 years.
"There is a clear effort to appeal to the West, and the point is to initiate the process [for discussions],” says a Tehran-based analyst with close ties to the government who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons. “If he manages to do it, that's even a major step. A deal with America ... is the golden trophy in Iranian politics.”
Indeed, the Iranian president softened his rhetoric Tuesday, repeating a call for new talks with the West over Iran's disputed nuclear program.
"We have always been prepared to talk," Ahmadinejad told American reporters over breakfast, according to Politico. "We are prepared now as well and I probably would say there is a good chance that talks will resume in the near future,” he said.
But analysts inside the Islamic Republic say that while the president arrived in New York aiming to restart nuclear talks with the West, he faces strong opposition from much of Iran's conservative establishment.
Ahmadinejad battling conservatives – even in his own camp
Ahmadinejad's administration has throughout the past year been battling Iranian lawmakers within the conservative old guard and even his own Principalist camp for a tighter grip on state finances and policy.
Though a majority of the Iranian Majles, or Parliament, rallied behind the president in the immediate aftermath of the June 2009 presidential elections, legislators have since sought to limit the breadth of Ahmadinejad's domestic power as he has sought to expand his influence over key state institutions, such as the ministries of Intelligence, Interior, and Foreign Affairs.
Most recently, Iranian lawmakers have seriously disputed numerous aspects of his government's plan to disburse $20 billion in funding from cuts in state fuel subsidies before the end of the current Iranian year (ending March 20). The government entity slated to make individual cash payments to Iranian citizens as a countermeasure to the subsidy cuts will not be under the purview of Iran's national budget, thus leaving the methodology of cash distribution with little to no parliamentary oversight.