Would an Assassination of Iran’s Ahmadinejad Have Really Mattered?

Although the Iranian government denies it, it seems likely that someone attempted to assassinate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, while he was being driven to Hamadan to give a speech on Iran’s nuclear energy research program.

Ahmadinejad recently faced strikes by the artisans, merchants, money-changers and shopkeepers of the bazaar or traditional marketplace. In some ways, this protest against tax increases was more challenging to the regime than the Green Movement protests of summer-fall, 2009. The bazaar classes have often led movements to topple governments in modern Iran, and they were the ones who bankrolled Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s 1978-79 revolution against the then shah or king. They had not joined in last summer’s political protests.

Had Ahmadinejad been assassinated, would it have mattered. In some ways yes, in others, no.

Theocratic Leader Ali Khamenei is the real center of power. He is commander in chief of the army forces and head of intelligence. He appoints 500 key high officials. Ahmadinejad could not even appoint a minor vice president without Khamenei’s approval.

So a different president would not necessarily mean a change in policy.

Moreover, Khamenei has tinkered with the Iranian electoral procedures so as to strenghthen the hard liners. In 2004 he forbade some 3500 candidates to run for parliament because they were considered too liberal.

So likely Khamenei would arranged for Ahmadinejad to be succeeded by some other marginal personality.

But an assassination would have been consequential in other ways if it had been successful. Ahmadinejad is colorful in a bad way, and some of the bad impression he has made of Iran is personal and would not be replicated by a successor. His ignorant and offensive way of speaking about Israel or about the Iranian nuclear research program would not necessarily be replicated by even a hard line successor.

Such an assassination would throw Iranian politics into turmoil for a while. The Green Movement might be able to take advantage of it. It would much delay any Israeli or US attack on Iran, since likely the anti-Iran forces would have to take a wait and see attitude until a new president consolidated his position

I don’t wish anyone ill. But I wanted to insist that this incident could not be dismissed as irrelevant.

14 Responses

  1. Juan, the photos and video of the incident actually affirm the Iranian explanation. Have you seen them?

    Security forces do not respond in the direction of the smoke, and neither does the crowd. For his part, the president continues on with his procession.

  2. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a blast to listen to, the world has been a more interesting place with him in it! He’s marginalized by people who want him marginalized. US does that to all who won’t willingly hand over their lunch money. I don’t think his assassination would delay an attack on Iran, I don’t think there is going to be an attack on Iran. They bite, that’s why. Maybe it wasn’t an assassination attempt on the man, anyway. That’s what they are saying. I’ll buy it, why not? It’s not as if our pathological liars ( Zionists and US Zionist shill’s ) said it.

    • In some respects I agree with you. Ahmedinejad is certainly a fiesty mouthpiece for the IRI. However in his discussion of the holocaust and gays in Iran, I think he comes away as lacking credibility. What is very interesting is the manner in which he interacts with the people. When one considers the lock-down that must be implemented whenever the US president is out and about, and contrast that whith the apparent ease with which Ahmedinejad mixes, one must conclude that the Iranians are certainly a much more supressed people and generally unable to contemplate the assassination of their leaders.

  3. We know a few weeks ago Hillary Clinton had to rush the Security Council meeting to counter the Turkey/Brazil deal on nuclear fuel swap. Ever since, I am convinced that the conflict with IRan has nothing to do with Ahamdinejad’s nonsense against Israel, or Iran’s nuclear enrichment, or any other related issue. The push for sanction, instead of a deal to remove the Uranium from Iran, showed that (with the current IAEA inspection regime) US has no fear of Iranian using the enriched Uranium for military purposes.

    As such, I believe a conflict with Iran, just like the war with Iraq, has nothing to do with Iran and everything to do with the US internal political, economic agenda and its global conflict with countries like China.

    If US needs to go to war it would justify it with Ahmadinejad in power (since he is a “mad man”), or if he is assassinated, or removed from power, then it would be justified with some other nonsense, like we can’t afford to wait for another mad man, or some other marketing slogan.

    US may have lost its manufacturing edge, but marketing is still its strength. Once she needs a war, she would find the right excuse.

    Andrew Becevich said it best in his interview on Democracy Now:

    And the conclusion I came up with is—I mean, in the essence of the conclusion, is that we do what we do in the world, to include in places like Afghanistan, not because we are threatened, not because we are obliged to respond to something over there; we do what we do in the world largely as a result of domestic imperatives, perceived domestic imperatives. And I think that if you evaluate US foreign policy and national security policy from that perspective, then it becomes rather obvious that we are an imperial nation, we are a hegemonic nation, we are a nation that has embraced a militarized approach to policy that sets us apart from every other liberal democracy, perhaps with the exception of Israel.
    Interview

  4. once again Prof Cole personal preference influences his analysis. Despite Iranian denial it “seems likely”? How does it seem likely to anyone other than those who would wish it to seem so?

  5. If Ahmadinejad were assassinated isn’t there a risk of it being blamed on the Americans, leading Iran to step up its nuclear program to actually looking to produce a bomb?

  6. Iranians have been so sensitive about “Assassination”.maybe because of many Assassinations after Revolution which several popular persons were killed such as “Beheshti”, “Mutahari” and…even now people believe they were Hero. If Ahmadinejad is assassinated ,it will help Regime to make him as a national Hero who has killed because of his courage against Israel.

  7. The “grenade” thrower must have had extraordinarily poor aim. He/She not only missed Ahmadi Nejad but also missed the entourage and huge crowd surrounding Ahmadi Nejad’s car. I haven’t heard one report or seen one one photo regarding any bystander(s) wounded in a “grenade” attack. Contrast that fact with the thousands of images transmitted from Iran during the election protests.

  8. To put it bluntly – NO.

    YES, the Rahbar is the most powerful man in the Islamic Republic – but he is not like Catholic Pope. Under Iranian Constitution, Rahbar, is not allowed to hold Executive position or interfere in country’s political process or nominate President, Minister or members of Majlis (parliament). Although he is the Supreme C-in-C of Iran’s Armed Forces – in case he stage a military coup, under the Constitution, he would become a ‘traitor’ and the ‘Fatwa’ is death. The power of the Rabar is due to his position as ‘Wilyat-al-Faiqh (the Spiritual Leader) within Shia school of thought – and that he has to be liked by Iranian politicians or the rich Bazaries. There are million of Sunnis around the world including myself, who consider the rahbar as the political leader of the Muslim ummah.

    The President of Islamic Republic of Iran is elected without any organized political party (none of which exists) in Iran. He is next most powerful official in Iran. He is answerable to the Rahbar only in the matter of the security of the country and the defense of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The Vice-presidents and cabinet ministers are selected by the elected President – and all of them need the approval of the Majlis.

    The Rahbar do appoint some members of the powerful Guardian Council, which acts like a ‘Watchdog’ and even has the power to remove the Rahbar by a 75% majority vote, if proved insane by the 75% majority of the Majlis.

    The above is to clarify your views on Iran. As far as Dr. Ahmadinejad is concerned, you may like to read it on my blog.

    link to rehmat1.wordpress.com

    • I am a sunni and it seems that i am a totally useless one. I am amazed to know “millions” of “sunni” people consider Ayatollah’s as leaders of Muslim Ummah. Maybe thats why they have shiite clerics in Sunni mosques around baluchistan

  9. My understanding is that he has diverted a lot of Iranian government resources to the poor and working people. Is that his policy or Khameni’s? Also, there has been a lot of outreach to countries like Venezuela, in hopes of minimizing the American superpower status. Is that him or Khameni? Finally, does Professor Cole really believe that Israel cares who is in charge in Iran?

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