Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, came under fire from domestic critics yesterday for his uncompromising stance on the nuclear issue as the US and Britain launched a new diplomatic effort to agree harsher UN sanctions they hope will force Tehran to halt uranium enrichment.
Mohammad Atrianfar, a respected political commentator, accused the president of using "the language of the bazaar" and said his comments had made it harder for Ali Larijani, the country's top nuclear negotiator, to reach a compromise with European diplomats. The president made global headlines at the weekend by declaring that his country's quest for nuclear energy was an unstoppable train, adding to the sense of crisis as emergency talks got under way in London yesterday.
Critics from across the Iranian political spectrum took him to task for his "no brakes or reverse gear" remarks, bolstering claims in the west that his hardline position may be starting to backfire. "This rhetoric is not suitable for a president and has no place in diplomatic circles," said Mr Atrianfar, a confidant of Hashemi Rafsanjani, an influential regime insider and rival of Mr Ahmadinejad. "It is the language people in the bazaar and alleyways use to address the simplest issues of life."
"The brake exists to get the train safely to its destination," Mr Zahed wrote in the newspaper Etemad-e Melli. "Perhaps on the journey, we might find the track broken and are obliged to move our passengers by using the reverse gear to get to a safer track. Iran is a nation of earthquakes, flood and national disasters! You are our head. We should be able to trust you." Even the fundamentalist newspaper Resalat, usually a supporter of Mr Ahmadinejad, was critical. "Neither weakness nor inexperience and unnecessary rhetorical aggression is acceptable in our foreign policy," it said.
Wenn jetzt selbst von ansonsten treuen Anhängern Kritik an Ahmadinedschads Rhetorik gegenüber dem Rest der Welt geübt wird, scheint die Luft um ihn merklich dünner zu werden.