The Iranian spat behind the scenes
Foreign Policy / Ian Bremmer

Last week was a busy one in New York, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in town for the U.N. General Assembly meeting, kept the media spotlight focused firmly on Turtle Bay with his usual antics: absurd claims about 9/11, some casual Holocaust denial, a little pro forma denunciation of Zionism, and some reflexive chest beating directed at Washington.

But the president's performance distracted attention from where the really interesting action was taking place: in Tehran, where a possibly game-changing battle within the conservative elite has intensified in recent weeks. The tensions between clerics and pragmatic conservatives on the one hand and Ahmadinejad and his allies on the other has been brewing for some months, but recently reached a fever pitch.

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