Ancient Persia was a heavily trafficked corridor on the Silk Road, the transcontinental trade route between China and the West that flourished centuries ago. But in Washington’s imagining of a 21st century version of the Silk Road, Iran seems set to be bypassed.
When Leon Panetta, the new United States defense secretary, declared on September 6 that it was only "a matter of time" before an Arab Spring-style revolution came to Iran, it seemed to smack of wishful thinking.
In a single day earlier this week, the Iranian parliament dealt three blows to the presidency of Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who has become a political punching bag as the result of a continuing power struggle with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The battle has heated up over Ahmadinejad’s repeated attempts to make inroads into Khamenei’s spheres of influence.