The Foreign Service Journal, September 2009

utable Twitter updates ( http://iran. ) . Reacting to signs of weakness, high- level clerical leaders, silent through the early stages of the resistance, have started to undermine the position of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Kham- enei. From their seat in the city of Qom, they have issued statements, even outright fatwas, declaring the elections void and the tactics of Khamenei’s supporters reprehensible. Heading up this camp is Grand Ay- atollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, the man originally intended to hold Khamenei’s current position and one of the most powerful leaders of Shi’a Islam. His increasingly frequent con- demnations of Khamenei and support of the protesters reveal the continuing and destabilizing presence of splits in Iranian leadership along lines that first appeared during the 1979 revolution ( middle_east/iran/people/clerics/ ayatollahs/montazeri/ ). Additionally, Iranian leadership cannot transfer the blame to American incitement as they traditionally have done. The Obama administration’s in- sistence on maintaining a supportive, but clearly uninvolved, relationship with Iranian dissidents deprives Ah- madinejad and Khamenei of the op- portunity to unite their nation with a dose of nationalist ire. As a result, claims Abbas Milani in the Council on Foreign Relations’ continuing analysis of the situation in Iran, “with a badly tarnished domestic and international reputation, and with a sadly failing economy in desperate need of foreign investments, the triumvirate will be, in spite of its bombast, in desperate need of negotiating with the United States” ( ) . The potential clearly exists for sig- nificant changes in American-Iranian diplomatic relations. Yet the situation in Tehran remains in flux, and the ex- tent to which the Obama administra- tion should seek to interact with a clearlly troubled regime remains ques- tionable. Recognizing this delicate position, the Center for Strategic and Interna- tional Studies continues to offer de- tailed background and periodic in- depth analysis on the situation in Iran ( ) . Simi- larly, the United States Institute of Peace has opened a dialogue with Asieh Mir and Soolmaz Abooali, who reported on the initial election results ( States-Institute-of-Peace/7560837 0019#/topic.php?uid=7560837001 9&topic=9294 ). And to augment the S E P T E M B E R 2 0 0 9 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 13 C Y B E R N O T E S 50 Years Ago... O n the one hand, foreign affairs are judged so important that the Secretary of State is the senior member of the president’s Cabinet and was indeed, between 1886 and 1947, second in succession to the presidency. On the other hand, there is recurrent hope that foreign affairs will give so little trouble that the Sec- retary of State will be free to go fishing and the important United States embassies can be staffed with party spoilsmen. — H.G. Nicholas, from “The American Secretary of State,” FSJ , September 1959.