Foreign Policy

Iran's Bubble Boys

Over the last seven months, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's base of support appears to have steadily shrunk: Countless conservative politicians and clerics, such as former Intelligence Minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, have even parted ways with the Iranian president and joined the expanding group of his foes. But though his list of detractors is getting longer, a number of men continue to stand behind the president, ensuring his hold on power.

Even some symbolic leaders of the opposition green movement, such as former President Mohammad Khatami, declared in recent days that they recognize Ahmadinejad as president of Iran, even if they remain convinced that his re-election on June 12 was rigged.

All the president's men -- and they are all men, with the exception of the female health minister, Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi -- fall into two categories. Ahmadinejad's chosen advisors and cabinet members are either his relatives or men close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, his powerful supporter. No matter the amount of criticism or condemnation heaped on the men in this inner circle, the president has remained as loyal to his appointees as they are to him.

The above article was published in the Foreign Policy on January 29th, 2010.

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