Sunday, July 03, 2011

Iran's internal politics are of very little strategic importance

Over the last few weeks I've read a whole lot of stories about a supposed factional dispute between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other conservatives in Iran. All countries have political disputes and as long as those disputes satisfy at least the second of two conditions, I don't care much about the outcomes of those disputes.

The first condition is that as disputes are settled, some popular voting mechanism contributes to resolving the issue.

The second condition is more important than the first, and it is that no foreign actor have influence on the dispute resolution process.

China's politics has disputes. China does not meet my first condition, but it does meet my more important second condition. China's political disputes are resolved, on both sides, by Chinese, loyal and holding stakes ultimately to China, and consistent with their values as Chinese people.

The United States for the most part meets both of my conditions. There is disproportionate influence on the US policy apparatus by advocates for Israel, but these advocates are nearly all US citizens.

Iran's current dispute also meets both of my conditions. The assets Ahmadinejad has available in any dispute are informed, at least in part, by his election results. More importantly, on both sides of the dispute, as far as I can tell, are Iranian factions that are primarily loyal to Iran.

Because this dispute meets the second condition, it really has no impact on Iran's role in the region. Because of that, I have not been following the dispute or paying attention to it. As far as I can tell, it will be resolved on way or another and Iran will remain after its resolution an independent country that pursues policies generally in line with the values, sensibilities and perceptions of the Iranian people.

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