Today's Ahmadinejad Is Not the same Ahmadinejad

09/23/2011 11:54 am ET | Updated Nov 21, 2011

United Nations -- Up until a year ago, most people in Iran and human rights activists outside of Iran accused President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for all the injustices happening in the country. A man who represent the system from the day one taking the office 7-years ago has been changed so much and went through scandal and situation which only a shade of this powerful man has been remained

When he took office for the second time back in June 2009, people blamed him for the disputed election and the harsh behavior of the regime towards protesters contesting its outcome. Huge demonstrations took place in front of the United Nations during his attendance at the General Assembly, and there was strong, clear evidence that of popular anger and protest against the Iranian president. But this year, when Ahmadinejad arrived for the General Assembly meeting, there was surprisingly no trace of any protesters, and as of yet, nothing has been scheduled by Iranian opposition groups and activists to protest his appearance at the UN.

The people of Iran, and those watching Iran, may have concluded that Ahmadinejad is not at all in charge of Iran's foreign and internal policies. His bubble of being in total command has been shattered, and what remains today is a mere individual now struggling to protect his close allies and confidantes from arrest.

Already, some of those close allies, such as Mohammad Sharif Malek Zadeh, who accompanied Mr. Ahmadinejad to the UN meeting last year, are now in prison on charges of treason against the state. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, treason is treated with a medieval approach, and is interpreted as a direct challenge to the authority of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior conservative clerics.

Soon after being appointed deputy foreign minister, Mr. Malekzadeh was forced to resign after substantial conservative pressure, and was arrested shortly thereafter. The charges were never revealed to the public, but it is widely known that his arrest is related to his relationship with President Ahmadinejad's best friend and chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, a man who has seriously challenged the authority of the Supreme leader and other senior clergy within Iran's Islamic system.

The president has publicly warned the judiciary not to touch members of his cabinet, claiming that the cabinet is a "red line" which should not be crossed. Though the president's rivals have not yet crossed that "line," they have not hesitated to publicly mock it. Conservative parliamentarians loudly expressed their disapproval when Mr. Ahmadinejad decided to take Mr. Mashaei with him to New York this week, claiming the president took his controversial chief of staff along only to "protect" him. "He knew [Mashaei] might be arrested in his absence," parliamentarian Nour Allah Heidary told the Fararou Iranian news website soon after the president's plane left Tehran.

The judiciary has also sought to discredit Mr. Ahmadinejad, rescinding a decision to release two American hikers imprisoned in Iran on charges of espionage, after the Iranian president told NBC they would be released within "two days" in spite of being sentenced to eight more years in prison. The decision represents Ayatollah Khamenei's wish to prevent Mr. Ahmadinejad from taking credit for their release, and his desire to embarrass the president by postponing it. The private jet from the small Persian Gulf nation of Oman which was in Tehran last week to pick up the hikers returned home empty.

For the conservatives and the supreme leader, today's Ahmadinejad is not the same Ahmadinejad. A man whom they thought they can control him fully and obeyed to the supreme leader.

They are doing everything in their power to limit his authority and show how powerless a president can be in Iran if he doesn't have the supreme leader's support. The Parliament has, from time to time, threatened to pull the president in for questioning as a warning that they may one day seek to discharge him from his position. Though this is merely a threat, it nevertheless humiliates the President and makes him uncomfortable before he addresses the General Assembly on Thursday.

Who would be the winner at this power struggle in Iran? The question now being asked is whether or not the president and his close allies can survive?