Political analysts here say they are surprised at the degree to which the West focuses on their president, saying that it reflects a general misunderstanding of their system.
Unlike in the United States, in Iran the president is not the head of state nor the commander in chief. That status is held by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, whose role combines civil and religious authority. At the moment, this president’s power comes from two sources, they say: the unqualified support of the supreme leader, and the international condemnation he manages to generate when he speaks up.
“The United States pays too much attention to Ahmadinejad,” said an Iranian political scientist who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “He is not that consequential.”
Does the Bush administration really think that is really the moving power behind Iran’s support of terrorism?
I doubt it. The Iranian presidency has always been a secondary position, held in firmly check by the clerics. Ahmadinejad is no different at this point.
It would be interesting if he were to gain enough power and stature to challenge the Muslim clerics and consolidate real power in his own hands. But would we really want this to happen?