The Middle East Channel

Ahmadi and friends

Iran-watchers in the West may be pleased to find Tehran’s political leadership so seemingly willing to oblige the primary intention of the latest international sanctions — namely, to sow discord among Iranian elites. In recent weeks, the Iranian media has been chronicling the public feuds between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and seemingly everyone else in the ...

Iran-watchers in the West may be pleased to find Tehran’s political leadership so seemingly willing to oblige the primary intention of the latest international sanctions — namely, to sow discord among Iranian elites.

In recent weeks, the Iranian media has been chronicling the public feuds between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and seemingly everyone else in the entire country. Ahmadinejad versus the Majles (the Iranian parliament); Ahmadinejad versus the judiciary chief; Ahmadinejad versus the bazaar merchants, some of the country’s most powerful economic players; Ahmadinejad versus the conservative Motalefeh party; Ahmadinejad versus some of the country’s most powerful and influential hard-line clerics. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei finally entered the fray in late August, demanding that the feuding politicians set aside their differences, at least publicly, and instead work together toward the betterment of the country.

To some, Khamenei’s plea may have seemed a sign of desperation, a signal that the regime was unraveling under the weight of economic mismanagement, the effect of sanctions, and the lingering discontent over last year’s election results and the aftermath of state-sanctioned violence. But that’s little more than wishful thinking dressed up as political analysis. In truth, the latest squabbling is business as usual in the byzantine Iranian political system.

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Hooman Majd, a New York-based writer, is the author of three books on Iran, including the New York Times best-seller "The Ayatollah Begs to Differ." He has also been an NBC News contributor since 2013. Twitter: @hmajd

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