News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for September 9.
- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Golnaz Esfandiari reports for RFE/RL, a U.S. Congress-funded international broadcaster, that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are increasingly at odds. Ahmadinejad has expanded his purview into foreign policy an area typically under the control of Khamenei, says Esfandiari. In recent weeks, Ahmadinejad has made unilateral appointments for special envoys to the Middle East, Asia Affairs, Caspian Affairs, and Afghanistan. “The appointments have been criticized as a blow to Iran’s Foreign Ministry and Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki, who believed [sic] to owe his appointment to Khamenei and is considered one of the few remaining so-called pragmatists in the Iranian government,” writes Esfandiari. Ahmadinejad is expected to unilaterally appoint special envoys for African Affairs and South America in the near future.
- Washington Post: The Post picks up on an AP report that one of the three American hikers detained by Iran since July 2009 will be released on Saturday, coinciding with Eid al-Fitr, the feast to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. “It is common in the Islamic world,” notes the AP article, “to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday by showing clemency and releasing prisoners.” The American hikers, all in the their mid-twenties, have been caught up in the tense relations between the U.S. and Iran. They were accused of spying by the Islamic Republic, while their families insist that they were hiking in Iraq and accidentally crossed the border into Iran.
- Commentary: Jennifer Rubin finds it “troubling” that discussion of Iran came late in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Council on Foreign Relations speech, “suggesting that it really is not at the top of her to-do list.” She notes that Clinton omitted entirely the bellicose catchphrases that “all options are on the table” and that a nuclear Iran is “unacceptable.” The fact that Clinton is not solely focused on Iran is, for Rubin, an indication that the Israelis will have to go it alone and attack Iran: “[Israelis] must surely be coming to terms with the fact that their military is all that stands between the West and a nuclear-armed Iran.”