The New Yorker's Jon Lee Anderson gives an incisive account of the political situation inside Iran running up to its presidential election. Among Anderson's revelations: Iran's political structure is opaque--the president wields a certain amount of clout, but so does Ayatollah Ali Khameni, Iran's Supreme Leader, yet even he is constrained by a web of relationships. No matter the candidate, Iran's desire for nuclear armaments will likely be a core national issue for years to come, and derives from the country's need for respect. Ahmadinejad's appeal--he's the Islamic equivalent of a born-again Christian who knows how to talk to the common people--distinguishes him from the opposition. Anderson also explains how Obama's branch of peace may help scuttle Ahmadinejad's reelection bid by creating a debate between president and people about how to engage with the U.S.
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