No one in Western intelligence is quite sure who made the final decision to release the British captives this week. But the Iranians themselves have a fair idea, and the nation's fiery president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, seemed to leave little doubt about it. "The pardon of the British sailors signified the Supreme Leader's kindness," Ahmadinejad told a meeting of Iranian officials in Tehran on Friday.
Iranians are deserting the president they elected by a landslide in June 2005. Not only did university students heckle Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with chants of "Death to the dictator!" during a speech last month in Tehran, state-run TV had the temerity to report it.
Akbar Ganji is the most vocal voice against the government in Iran. A former revolutionary guard turned reformist journalist, he was jailed for six years for revealing that Iran's ministry of intelligence played a role in the killings of up to 70 intellectuals during the 1990s.
Last week a judge in the Iranian city of Hamadan sentenced reformist activist and university professor Hashem Aghajari to death for blasphemy. Aghajari was quoted saying, among other things, "Marx says, 'Religion is the opiate of masses,' but I say it is also the opiate of governments." In Tehran last week, the ruling sparked five days of student protests, some of the most vehement mass demonstrations since 1999.
Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Baqer Hakim is the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the largest Shiite political party in the country.
The first thing that Seyyed Muhammad Kheyrkhaah tells those he meets is that the Taliban regime is not the government of Afghanistan. Kheyrkhaah is Afghanistan's ambassador to Iran, representing the Northern Alliance's political leader, Burhanuddin Rabbani, who is still recognized by the United Nations as president of the Afghan government overthrown by the Taliban in 1996.Kheyrkhaah, who has spent the last nine years at his post in Iran, spoke to NEWSWEEK'S Maziar Bahari at Afghanistan's...