Iran: Power Struggle


by Diba

Since his first presidential term, Ahmadinejad has been suffering from a kind of illusion that he is really president of a country. Each time that his illusions have led him to take even a limited action different from what is expected from (absolute obedience to the Supreme Leader and the religious power centers) he has been harshly reminded of the facts.

Right after his election for the first time (2005), he decided to let the Iranian women watch soccer games along with men (in a separate section) but the Mullahs turned him down. Later he was forced to choose certain persons as ministers in the important places. He wanted to remove the money making organization of endowments from the ministry of guidance and give it to one of his deputies but the leader stopped it. In his second term he set aside the foreign minister that was imposed on him and he was criticized for it. Later he tried to take control of the intelligence ministry and he lost the case.

Now, he is in a new round of this trend. He wanted to take the control of the intelligence ministry because the ministry has enough evidences about the administrative and personal corruption of almost all important officials in Iran. This could make Ahmadinejad and his gang the main center to decide who would be the next members of the Iranian Majlis and even the next president. Apparently he had miscalculated on much the persons that he appointed or arranged to be appointed here and there (in Majlis, government, provinces. State organizations and companies and among the ordinary people) would support him.

In a short while after taking a position different than the orders of the Supreme Leader, a great number of Iranian officials in almost entire ruling body started to attack Ahmadinejad and his gang. Even the persons that Ahmadinejad was sure to have them in his pocket (such as Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, his mentor and the famous theoretician of violence) staged serious attacks against him. He returned and started using the old tactics that had worked for him only due to the support of the leader. Since the return of Ahmadinejad to his job after the disagreement with the leader on the intelligence minister, Ahmadinejad has tried to play down the demands of his opponents, especially in the Principlalists gang. He has also tried to go back to his old role by making strange remarks such as repeating the words that Israel will be destroyed soon and the Westerners have stolen rains from the clouds moving towards Iran.

But most of his opponents, including many of his former allies among the Iranian Principlalists do not consider Ahmadinejad’s remarks and acts as enough remedy for repairing his defiance from direct and swift observance of the leader’s instructions. They want him to do more. They want him to repent as clear as possible and at the same time they want to put him under a kind of “probation”. The conditions for his probation include not meeting certain people (especially Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, his close relative and head of his staff) and staying away from sensitive places such as the ministries of intelligence and oil. They may even go as far as demanding the arrest of some of close members of his gang such as Mashaie, Baghaie and Hashemi Samareh.

Under present conditions, as usual, the most import factor in the final destiny of Ahmadinejad is the views of the leader. If Ahmadinejad does not observe the conditions of his probation, he would be out of office before the end of his term. At this stage some people make speculations about how Ahmadinejad would be eliminated for example through a Majlis action (impeachment), or harsher actions and even physical elimination. The reality is that these tactics of his elimination are not important, and once the decision to remove him is made, the Mullahs have many ways to implement it. Rahim Mashaie and other members of Ahmadinejad’s gang are accused of:

A- Economic corruption. This is not anything new. In fact the Ahmadinejad gang, as those before him, has come to power through corruption. They are the product of corruption and when Ahmadinejad said that his aim was combating corruption nobody believed him and now that his opponents are accusing him of corruption nobody is getting disappointed. Recently, Rafsanjani said that the time of plundering the state budget for buying some votes has gone. He meant that the tactics he had used to get the power do not work anymore (which is not true).

B- Holding ideas against the Islamic school in the framework of “Iranian School”, has been the center of attacks against Mashaie. The opponents of this idea claim that Islam does not recognize nationalities and borders and it’s a universal ideology and as such everything unrelated to the Islamic period should disregarded and ignore (if not destroyed).

C- Using magic and sorcery practices. Using magic practices or similar tactics is not at all new or unprecedented or even ugly in the religious regime of Iran. Throughout the history of the Islamic revolution, many stories have been fabricated about the magical powers of the religious leaders. Such as claiming that they can be present at one time in several places (Tay-ol-Arz).

But the reason for putting so much emphasize on magical practices has two aspects: One aspect is that they want to claim that Ahmadinejad (that they supported him so seriously in the past) was originally good and we supported him but Mashaie and people like him have damaged him through such practices. But there is something more important here. Supporters of Ahmadinejad are taking the position that the emergence of the Hidden Imam is close and Ahmadinejad has a role in this process ( the Zohour Film and trying to make Ahmadinejad, the commander of the army of the Hidden Imam, was an important event). the leader did not like it because the emergence of the Hidden Imam could mean the end of his tenure. This is why the clerics are calling the new trend, as “deviant current or trend”. This is used to refer to the entourage of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, particularly his aide Esfandiari Rahim Mashaei. The term has been used by hard-line clerics, including Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, websites and newspapers, especially the ultra hard-line Kayhan Newspaper which is said to often represent the views of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The administration of Ah claimed that it the administration of the Hidden Imam. In many cases, the high officials and especially the president claimed that this country is run by the guidance of the Hidden Imam. Gradually, they called even low level administrative actions, as issues dictated by the Hidden Imam. (While the theory of Vali-e Faghih- the ruling theory in Iran- provides that the Supreme Leader is the decision maker in all matters during the occultation of the Hidden Imam). Hamid Reza Fouladghar, a member of Iranian Majles from Isfahan, has said : “ the result of action actions [claiming that everything is done by the guidance of the Hidden Imam] is setting aside the religious experts of the Shiite jurisprudence [faghih] and the chief jurist [Vali-e Faghih or Supreme Leader]. These persons say when they are in touch with the Hidden Imam, then there is no need for the “the Supreme Leader.” ( // ) Baseerat, a website close to the regime of Iran, in an article about the “Deviant Current”, has mentioned : “according to this current, we are in the verge of emergence of the Hidden Imam…in this period, we are going through the conditions similar to the “minor occultation” [the Hidden Imam, had such a period , before going to the long or great occultation], in which the special representatives of the Hidden Imam, ( Now’wab), are the only liaisons between the Imam and the people. Therefore, in this transitory period, only the noble persons that enjoy special powers and have the capability of direct communications with the Hidden Imam can implement the divine orders… this group uses expressions such as justice, emergence of Imam, and global management and substantiate their actions on the orders of the Hidden Imam ”. ( // )

If Ahmadinejad does not behave, all of these accusations are on the table. But what are some possible implications of removing Ahmadinejad. The latest speech of the leader and also the remarks of Tavakoli, a prominent Majlis deputy and a serious opponent of Ahmadinejad, indicate that the leader would like Ahmadinejad to finish his two more remaining years calmly. But on the other side, the remarks of the IRGC commander, Jasfari, indicates that the “deviant current” is trying to find allies and continue the struggle.

Ahmadinejad’s choices are becoming smaller each and every day. He may find himself eliminated harshly and seriously. This is also good for the regime that enjoys crisis and the leader and the clerics (who are the main culprits for the existing situation in Iran) may make Ahmadinejad a scapegoat and blame him for all troubles of the country that really have nothing to do with Ahmadinejad and they are related to the nature and fundamental flaws of a dictatorial regime that was tailored for Khomeini.


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