Image via WikipediaWell. Not exactly. But the Western media would have you believe it is as they continue to portray the "opposition" as some sort of anti-clerical, anti-Islamic group (this does not apply to the protesters in the street who are likely very anti-clerical rule).
I recently received an email of an alternative view which seems to me much more reality based although I can't vouch for its accuracy. Essentially, the alternative view says this:
1. This is not about a conflict of ideology. It is about economics - those that affect the economic elites.
2. On one side is Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The other side is represented by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The former has been on the short end of the deal to Ahmadinejad lately and his businesses are not doing well. Remember, he is a very wealthy cleric.
3. Rafsanjani is basically shut down in Iran - he is no longer privy to the inner circle discussions or decisions.
4. The 30 year old sanctions have taken a toll and Rafsanjani developed a strong overseas network for trade. So, Rafsanjani's overseas network has come into play.
5. Ahmadinejad did not sit on his hands and has been developing his own overseas network. This has not worked out so well as Rafsanjani gave the names etc of people the President had been working with to the CIA and MI5 who have dutifully scotched the deals. In a tit for tat, Ahamdinejad closed his opponents out of the internal banking system. Bad if you need loans to run businesses.
6. If either side voiced this in public, the religious mantle they cover themselves with would vanish. Nothing but the political and economic hacks that they are.
7. The street protests are mostly those Iranians who are westernized. Not many, I'm afraid.
8. The growing pressure by security forces to put an end to the demonstrations is becoming intense. If they are unleashed, the bloodshed so far seen will be nothing.
9. Since Rafsanjani is out of the loop, anything he or his people say to the west must be considered unreliable.
10. Ahmadinejad will deal on the nuclear issue but the US has to simultaneously (or a nano-second before) drop sanctions so that he will come out looking like a savior.
11. The economic control war is playing out, but the regime is running thin on patience.
What is left unsaid above is what would happen if the US agreed, as a New Year gesture, to lift sanctions? Would the demonstrations stop - or be stopped?
As I said, take the above with a grain of salt. But it is entirely plausible under the circumstances and is consistent with other political power struggles - one only needs to look to the clan struggle going on now in Russia. It's all about the money.