Karroubi Aide: Ahmadinejad-Khamenei Rift Widening
Tehran Bureau

A senior aide to opposition cleric Mehdi Karroubi said today that Iran's supreme leader has cooled his support for president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mojtaba Vahedi, chief of staff to Mehdi Karroubi since 1982, and editor-in-chief of reformist newspaper Aftab Yazd until January 2010 when he resigned to keep the newspaper from being closed down, spoke to journalists at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Friday. Later, he met with a smaller group of participants.

Vahedi asked that his comments not be attributed to Karroubi.

"The supreme leader's speeches from June to December of last year strongly endorsed Ahmadinejad. But since Ashura, Ayatollah Khamenei has never once mentioned Ahmadinejad's name in any public address," he said.

He added that Ahmadinejad recently appealed to the supreme leader to pressure Majlis, the Iranian parliament, to push through legislation for targeted subsidies, but was coldly rebuffed.

"Over the past nine months, we've seen Mr. Khamenei go from praise and support to silence to refusal to back the president," said the former Islamic Republic official, who recently moved to Washington.

The withdrawal of the supreme leader's backing of the president is likely to intensify in response to acts of defiance by Ahmadinejad, who considers himself to be the supreme leader's equal -- not his subordinate, Mr. Karroubi's aide explained.

"When Mr. Khamenei demanded the removal of Esfandiar Rahim-Mash... >>>

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