Cracks in Iran’s Clique
Thomas L. Friedman / New York Times

For the first time since Iran began enriching uranium that could be used in a nuclear weapon, we have a glimmer of hope for a diplomatic solution to this problem — as long as we are not too diplomatic, as long as the Iranian regime is made to understand that biting economic sanctions are an absolute certainty and military force by Israel is a live possibility.

The reason we now have a slight chance — and I really emphasize slight — for a negotiated deal is because Iran’s nuclear program has always been a survival strategy for Tehran’s ruling clique: what Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert with the Carnegie Endowment, calls “the small cartel of hard-line clerics and nouveau riche Revolutionary Guardsmen who run Iran today.”

After stealing June’s elections, this ruling cartel is now more unpopular and illegitimate than ever. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cannot hold a rally in Tehran without hearing “death to the dictator” chants more than “death to America.” As a result, his government can ill afford real biting sanctions that would make life in Iran not only politically miserable but even more
economically miserable — and his dictatorial clique even more unpopular.

I wouldn’t exaggerate this because this regime has never minded inflicting pain on its people, but this time it may be more vulnerable. That is why we may be in a position to say to the Iranian regime that continuing to grow it... >>>

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