Iran's War Within

Why signs of turmoil among Iran's leaders may be the U.S.'s best hope for avoiding a showdown with Tehran

Newsha Tavakolian / Polaris for TIME

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after being interviewed by TIME magazine correspondent Scott Macleod in his private office in Tehran, Iran, in December of 2006.

The scene was like the Iranian answer to March Madness. At Amir Kabir University of Technology in Tehran this past December, a crowd of several thousand packed the school's auditorium. On one side were hundreds of members of the Basij, a volunteer paramilitary force controlled by Iranian hard-liners, who had been bused in to cheer their most prominent alumnus, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They waved placards and roared as Ahmadinejad boasted about Iran's growing power and dared the country's enemies to challenge it. But in the back of the room, a group of 50 activists burned an effigy of the President,...

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