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As Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei advances in age, he has been actively weeding out rivals to ensure a successor who will uphold his vision for Iran.
It is simply wrong to assume that Iran's Revolutionary Guards are aligned uniformly against closer relations with the United States. The truth is that members of the Guards are just as likely to support a deal as they are to oppose one, even if they sometimes might feel pressured not to say so out loud.
Ayatollah Khamenei's offer of "heroic flexibility" in negotiations with the United States is significant, but not in the way that most Western commentators seem to think. Khamenei is ready to make a deal, but he still believes Iran and the West will remain ideological adversaries.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is not a crazy, irrational, or reckless zealot searching for opportunities for aggression, as this sweeping intellectual profile shows. That means there’s room for the United States and Iran to improve ties -- if Washington can convince Khamenei it’s not determined to overthrow the Islamic Republic.
Ahead of Iran's presidential election in June, President Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Khamenei are squabbling over the succession. Ahmadinejad wants Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, his chief of staff, to run but Khamenei disapproves. Regardless of who wins, the real loser will be Iranian democracy.
The clerical regime's tampering with the election was nothing less than an attempt to completely take over all aspects of the Iranian state.