When world leaders converge on Tehran next week to attend the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, they will give the Iranian regime a desperately needed opportunity to display competence and confidence, and not a moment too soon. Expect bluster and grandstanding from Iran’s leaders, with a message aimed not only at the international community but also at a restless domestic audience.
Behind the over-the-to taunts and frequent bravado, the reality is that the Islamic Republic is being squeezed on all sides.
As if Iran’s leaders didn’t have enough on their hands with economic sanctions, talk of war and a besieged pivotal ally in Syria, the earthquakes that shook East Azerbaijan province on Aug. 11 turned into a disaster for the government, stoking simmering dissatisfaction. But it’s not all nature’s doing. Despite 300 dead and thousands injured, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad missed an opportunity to portray himself as a caring, hands-on leader, instead choosing to keep to his planned schedule and travel to Saudi Arabia, prompting public condemnation.