As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Forget The Hype, Look To The Facts In Iran

Another outrage today concerned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comments at the UN Conference on Racism, which prompted several diplomats to walk out of the meeting. This is the typical anti-Zionism and Holocaust denial of which Ahmadinejad is famous, and it's all terribly familiar. I would argue that the uproar is not at all significant compared to this development.

Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, just convicted of espionage and sentenced to 8 years in prison, should be afforded every opportunity for a thorough legal defense in her appeal, according to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Saberi's conviction and sentence are an irritant in the attempt to President Barack Obama to improve relations with Iran, and Ahmadinejad, who is no fool, knows it [...] Ahmadinejad does not want Saberi's case to derail the current thaw between Washington and Tehran.

It is also likely that Ahmadinejad is worried that the Saberi case will reflect badly on him with Iranian youth and women, who in past years swung toward reformist candidates pledging greater personal liberties. Mir Hossein Mousavi, Ahmadinejad's rival, has now taken up that mantle, and he could benefit from a backlash in the Iranian public over the Saberi case.

One opinion poll showed Ahmadinejad trailing Mousavi among workers.

That is just a huge reversal, evident of a split, even among hardliners, inside Iran. While some in the government want to use the Saberi case as a bargaining chip, Ahmadinejad would rather use the case, and his advocacy for Saberi, in his election campaign. This shows that, at least at some level, Iran actually must respond to the will of its people, which is a powerful thing to remember as the diplomacy over their nuclear program continues.

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