The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is being sidelined by religious fundamentalists, and it’s bad news for American officials seeking to halt Iran’s nuclear program.
The same Iranian leader who dabbled in Holocaust denial and messianic fantasies was, paradoxically, also the theocracy’s most ardent advocate of direct nuclear negotiations with Washington. As Mr. Ahmadinejad falls out of favor with Iran’s hard-line religious leaders, the prospect of a nuclear deal between Tehran and Washington is diminishing.
Once the darling of clerical conservatives, who only two years ago rigged the system to ensure his re-election, Mr. Ahmadinejad is now clinging to his post amid furious recriminations from his erstwhile allies. His fall from grace has been fierce and fast. In what is only the latest in a series of humiliating comedowns, Mr. Ahmadinejad was heckled recently at a service commemorating the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The most devastating blow came in May from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who publicly repudiated his hand-picked protégé in a clash over presidential powers.