Wolf Blitzer asks Fareed Zakaria if he agrees with former CIA agent Bob Baer's assessment that there has been a military coup by the revolutionary guard in Iran. Zakaria is not as willing to use the word coup, but does feel that there is some conflict between the clerics in Iran.
As Zakaria points out, the dynamics of those conflicts and the ease with which they can be blamed on American interference is exactly why it was wise for the Obama administration to be cautious with their rhetoric.
BLITZER: One Middle East expert says what we're seeing unfold in Iran right now isn't just a government crackdown, but an actual coup by the country's elite revolutionary guard.
ZAKARIA: Do you think it's pretty clear that the government has the ability to really consolidate power and crackdown on this?
BAER: Fareed, I'm quite sure there's been a military coup d'etat by the Islamic revolutionary corp in Tehran. They're taken over. And the fact that the Basij came out so quickly. They could have only done that on orders from the IRGC. The fact that Ahmadinejad's a former IRGC officer, he has the backing of senior officers. I think what we've seen is a military coup against the old clerical establishment.
BLITZER: Let's bring in Fareed Zakaria to join us now. Fareed, what do you think? You are an authority on this subject?
ZAKARIA: I think that Bob Baer is on to something. I'm not sure I would use the word coup, you know, that strongly, but there is no question what we're witnessing in Iran is the displacement of the old clerical establishment and the rise to power of some new clerics, but mostly a group of people who have much closer ties to the military, to the intelligence organizations, to the police, and to the Basij. So what you're seeing is a kind of consolidation of a pure military dictatorship, losing the trappings of the Islam and the ideology as much.
And by the way, this is very much part of Ahmadinejad's strategy when he is now attacking America. It is an attempt to consolidate power and to move beyond the debate about what's going on in Iran.