The sanctions imposed on Iran by the United Nations have started taking their toll on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The New York Times reported early Friday that Ahmadinejad has become the target of criticism in his own country, including demands that he stop interfering with the nuclear program.
Roughly one month after the UN Security Council voted to sanction Iran, two leading Iranian newspapers came out against the president.
Criticism was expressed in the official-conservative daily Jomhouri-Eslami, which is owned by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. According to the NY Times, this was the first sign that Ahmadinejad had lost any degree of the supreme leader's confidence.
The Iranian presidency is considered a weak element in Tehran, as many important issues, such as the foreign policy, are controlled by Khamenei.
While Iran remains publicly defiant, estimates are that senior government officials, including religious leaders, believe the president's aggressive statements are undermining the country's stability.
'No clear strategy'
Jomhouri-Eslami wrote, “The resolution is certainly harmful for the country.” The daily also criticized Ahmadinejad's remarks after the sanctions were imposed, saying that it was “too much to call it ‘a piece of torn paper”.
The newspaper added that the nuclear program required its own diplomacy, “sometimes toughness and sometimes flexibility”.
A second newspaper, run by an aide to the country’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, also slammed Ahmadinejad.
“They want to minimize the consequences of sanctions now that they have been imposed,” said Mohammad Atrianfar, an executive at the daily Shargh. “But they don’t have clear strategy, and they are taking one step at a time.”