by Ryan Mauro
The Iranian regime’s plans for regional domination have hit a bump: Its own leaders’ thirst for power. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad have had a falling out, and the number of parliamentarians seeking Ahmadinejad’s impeachment is quickly growing.
Much of the in-fighting surrounds Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, Ahmadinejad’s former chief of staff and reportedly, his best friend. Mashaei’s daughter is married to one of Ahmadinejad’s sons and it is widely believed that Mashaei is Ahmadinejad’s pick to succeed him. Mashaei was appointed as Vice President in 2009, outraging conservatives because of his attendance at events featuring female musicians and dancers. He also stated that Iran is a friend of all nations, including Israel and the U.S.
Khamenei ordered Ahmadinejad to immediately fire Mashaei, so Ahmadinejad made him his chief of staff. He later came under fire in August for making statements that elevated nationalism above Shiite Islam. In April, Mashaei was demoted because of the controversy surrounding the documentary, The Coming Is Upon Us.
The film made the case that Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and Hassan Nasrallah are prophesied about in the Hadith as the ones destined to bring about the appearance of the Mahdi. It was rebuked by the state-owned Kayhan newspaper, and the top seminary in Qom. Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani also condemned it, saying it would “weaken the very belief of Muslims.” Mashaei denied overseeing the film’s creation but the pressure forced his removal as chief of staff. Nevertheless, Mashaei and Ahmadinejad remain close allies.
In May, 25 associates of Mashaei were arrested for alleged involvement in sorcery and witchcraft; an accusation that essentially calls them apostates. A former supporter of Ahmadinejad, Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, even claimed that Ahmadinejad has been “put under a spell” and that explains why he is acting “unnatural.”
This is just the latest in a series of clashes between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad. In December, the President fired Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki without even telling the Supreme Leader. In April, Ahmadinejad fired the Minister of Intelligence, Heydar Moslehi, after he dismissed a deputy tied to Mashaei and tapped Mashaei’s phone. Khamenei ordered that Moslehi be put back into the post. Various reports claimed that Khamenei told Ahmadinejad to publicly support Moslehi or resign. Ahmadinejad has denied these reports. Far from being loyal, Ahmadinejad has given Moslehi a list of 45 senior officials in the Interior Ministry that he wants replaced with his own choices.
by Ryan Mauro