Within Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's small circle, there are two men in which the Iranian president has total trust. They are his old friends and are as religious as he is, and share the same vision. Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie and Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi are the two closest allies of the Iranian president. Hashemi, who acts as the president's adviser, is not in the spotlight as much as Rahim Mashaie, Ahmadinejad's chief of staff. The appearance of a government official such as Rahim Mashaie, who isn't afraid to express himself so openly and unconditionally, is very new and unusual for many conservatives. In Iran, where most politicians pretend to believe in many things in order to gain or stay in power, there are not too many people like Mashaie, who is direct, gets straight to the point and doesn't worry about offending Iran's clergy.
Because of this major difference, Mashaie has earned the wrath of most of the country's hardliners clerics, spanning from members of the Iranian parliament with low religious ranking, such as Hojat Al-Islam Hamid Rassai, to those at the top of Iran's religious establishment, such as Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi and Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, who as head of the Guardian Council confronted president Ahmadinejad and demanded the expulsion of his controversial chief of staff.
In Iran, as in other dictatorships, the leader needs t... >>>
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