Ahmadinejad's status in Iran is becoming complicated, which in turn is forcing him to fight on several fronts. The Iranian president is trying to wipe out the liberal trend in his country and is currently taking measures to dismiss liberal lecturers and professors from Iranian universities.
This is a somewhat pretentious act considering that even Ayatollah Khomeini was wary of its potential to increase opposition against him among the younger generation, which is primarily pro-Western.
Ahmadinejad is fighting the people who elected him as a result of his renewed call for Islamic dress, a ban on American films, and satellite dishes, among other things.
In fact, he is fighting human nature and the natural desire for a better life - such a war is destined to fail. As of late, Ahmadinejad has also been criticized by the most senior religious clerics in his country, and in a state ruled by religion the clerics are superior to the president and not vice versa - they set the norms.
The issue of nuclear arms has also stirred debate inside Iran recently. One of the five great Ayatollahs of the holy Shiite city announced recently that manufacture of nuclear weapons, and even just storing them, contradicts Islamic law. The use of such arms, he ruled, borders on renouncement of religion.
This line of thought matches that of the founding Ayatollah who banned development of nuclear weapons. Only following his death did the Iranians go back to enriching uranium, a process that began before the ousting of the Shah. Even Iran's current spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said three years ago that nuclear weapons contradict Islamic law, and he was considered radical.
Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, himself a religious cleric though not senior, reinforced this line during his current sensational trip to the US, the first since 1979, by saying that Ahmadinejad is causing grave damage to Iran.
Who is assisting Ahmadinejad?
So who is assisting Ahmadinejad and presenting him as the guardian of Islam? Who is legitimizing the stance that the Muslim world has no choice but to support him? – Israel.
By making statements that Ahmadinejad resembles Hitler, and that the whole of Iran can be eradicated as well, Israel is giving exclusive meaning to Ahmadinejad's hard line stance. Israel is being dragged into the debate just as he expects us to, and by so doing it becomes a tool in Iranian hands.
The conflict Ahmadinejad is presenting against Israel launders his statements inside Iran and heightens his popularity within the Muslim world.
A better alternative
The US did well by allowing Khatami into the country and by permitting him to present an alternative to Ahmadinejad. For the fist time since the revolution, Iranians view the US as a sane and friendly country. This visit will have further dramatic implications in the annals of the Khomeini revolution.
I am not belittling the Iranian threat on Israel. The world realizes that Iran poses a global threat, and Israel should utilize all its intelligence resources in an effort to halt nuclear Iranian development.
Israel should also serve as a silent coordinator of global activity on this matter. However, when Ahmadinejad becomes entangled in his own country, at a time when many regret they voted him into office, and when the world is seeking to use a stick against him but also to placate the Iranian people - Israel would do well not to interfere publicly.
It's unfortunate that we are turning Iranian defiance regarding nuclear development into a matter that relates solely to us. It's unfortunate that by our own doing we are helping Ahmadinejad.