The 15th Asia Games were held in Doha, Qatar, earlier this month.
Among those attending the opening ceremonies on December 1st was Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Part of the ceremonies included troupes of young
women singing and dancing. Now Ahmadinejad makes a big deal about being a
fervent Moslem of the strictest observance. Nevertheless, he did not excuse
himself from this portion of the ceremonies.
the news hit back home in Iran, the reaction from many fundamentalist clerics
and their supporters was quite hostile. Ahmadinejad attempted to dodge the
issue, by claiming he wasn't present. Unfortunately, there was video tape
showing him taking in the festivities. Ahmadinejad then claimed that the tape
was "faked" and blamed the Western media (a favorite target of anyone who has
to deal with bad news). But there was a lot of tape, and some it was from
definitely pro-Islamist media.
a result, the hardline Islamist clergy who really run Iran, already unhappy
about Ahmadinejad's popularity with the religiously conservative poor in the
country, have proposed moving up the presidential elections, thus cutting short
his term in office.
Signs that Ahmadinejad's grip may be loosening are not only coming from the
radical right. In a visit to a university just a few days ago, Ahmadinejad, who
has pledged to purge the country's educational system of "liberal professors,"
found himself being booed by students and faculty.
Ahmadinejad's days in power may be numbered. Who will repace him, however, is
difficult to determine. He won the 2005 presidential election by being more
conservative than Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who had served as president
from 1989-1997. But it was a narrow victory, in a run off. So Rafsanjani, who
has occasionally gone on record as opposing some of Ahmadinejad's actions,
might possibly offer himself as a candidate. But his age, 72, and his
"pragmatic conservative" views, may make him unacceptable to the religious