THE incumbent president claims to have won a walloping 63% of the vote in the disputed presidential election of June 12th. He is still backed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader, its security forces, its state-run media, and a parliament dominated by fellow conservatives. Yet, after his inauguration on August 5th, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has little to savour as he settles in for a second four-year term. His position is far from secure. The crisis is still acute.
The difficulties he faces were symbolically exposed at a confirmation ceremony held on August 3rd to launch his second term. In a pointed break with protocol, many senior officials, including two former presidents, found themselves too busy to attend. So was the family of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution of 1979 and the Islamic Republic’s founding father, which by tradition is prominent at such events. And when Mr Ahmadinejad tried to repeat the unprecedented show of fealty he performed at the last such ceremony in 2005 by kissing Mr Khamenei’s hand, this time the supreme leader flinched, prompting a clumsy kiss of his shoulder instead.
Hardly had the ceremony closed before street protests erupted anew across Tehran. Bonfires were set alight, slogans chanted, horns tooted and pitched battles with police ran far into the night, when cries of Allahu Akbar (God is Great!) echoed as loud as ever from rooftops, as they have done nightly… >>>