News has just come in that Iran's Grand Ayatollah Montazeri passed away today, a leader of the reformist movement who was first picked by the Assembly of Experts to succeed Imam Khomeini in 1985. This decision was later rescinded in 1989 as it became obvious his sympathies toward the reformist movement were out of line with Iran's hard liners. So the current Supreme Leader was chosen instead, Seyyed Khamenei. Montazeri was watched closely by the leaders of the Islamic Republic for the rest of his life
With the recent Iran elections foretelling the mixed opinion on where Iran is to go in the future, President Barack Obama has gained a good amount of diplomatic leverage in regards to Iran. It's clear a good number of Iranian citizens would like to see some sort of change, how much and at what cost are key elements crucial to United States foreign policy. A hasty decision, faulty analysis, or miscommunication could literally wipe out beyond repair any thought of Iran coming to the table to discuss its nuclear energy program.
The players in this ongoing saga are many, with all sides developing strong cases to base their arguments on in the months to come. On one side you have Iran's Supreme Leader Seyyed Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the student reform movement keeping thses two honest. On the other side is President Barack Obama surrounded by a Jewish-American community that has been very vocal in wanting the Obama administration to put as much pressure as possible on Iran to stop their nuclear program. In recent months since the Iranian elections, Iran's leadership has been very cognizant of the fact that the court of international opinion may play a roll in how much pressure will be applied. They have softened their stance and numerous issues.
To begin with, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad climate change speech in Copenhagen was well received by the international community. He showed that when it counts he can be thoughtful and reasonable on the world stage, many were pleasantly surprised. More recently Khamenei announced an investigation into allegations of police brutality after the recent elections against demonstrators held in prison. It has showed that Iran's current leadership is willing to bend a little. Some observers see it as a sign that sanctions imposed by other nations against Iran are starting to work.
In the coming months we will see how much more pressure Israel, the Jewish American community, and the United States want to apply. Barack Obama knows he needs to keep his Jewish-American support intact if he wants to win reelection, he also knows that Iran is the most important piece to the puzzle in the Middle East and any mistakes in foreign diplomacy could have negative repercussions that reverberate to other Arab countries. A mistake in dealing with Iran and their nuclear program could lead to further instability in Palestine, Pakistan and across the Middle East. Even worse, Obama's foreign policy would take a hit he can ill afford as domestic issues mount up and Republicans are waiting to pounce. Few neoconservatives can resist mentioning Gaza, Palestine, Hamas, and Iran in the same sentence. Democrats cannot afford any major set backs as the 2010 election season approaches.
In the recent Iran elections even media social networking site Twitter got into the act. According to co-founder Isaac Stone, Twitter "recognizes the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran" and has pushed the maintenance back until the middle of tomorrow night in Tehran. The reach and influence of Jewish Americans in media is long indeed.