Ashofteh is best translated into English as chaotic. Ashofteh bazaar of Iranian politics is how Tehran’s influential daily Jomhouri Eslami (“Islamic Republic”) has described the state of politics under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The paper, widely believed to having close ties to Iran’s supreme leader, in a harsh attack on Iran’s president has accused him of behaving illegally towards government’s critics.
“It is unbecoming a law-abiding country to allow a person in whatever capacity to act as plaintiff, judge and executor,” said the newspaper editorial about Ahmadinejad accusing an opponent of his nuclear policies as traitor (Jomhouri Eslami, 21 November).
“Lately, spreading propaganda and auctioning the reputations of adversaries has displaced the rule of law in our nation's general atmosphere,” said the paper.
The editorial is the latest indication of a deepening power struggle underway in Tehran. Ahmadinajad has used the country’s nuclear program to label the reformist and moderate opposition as unpatriotic. Ahmadinejad in turn is coming under increasing attack for his extremist stance on the nuclear issue. Former presidents Khatami and Rafsanjani have sounded alarm, and Iran’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi has called on the government to suspend its uranium enrichment activities to avoid bringing war to the country.
In the ashofteh bazaar of Iranian politics, something has to give. In the simplest form, it is a struggle for survival between Ahmadinejad, representing the extremists, and Rafsanjani, representing the moderates. Even a chaotic bazaar is too small for them both. If today’s editorial is any indication of Khamenei’s move to distance himself from Ahmadinejad, then Ahmadinejad's days in Marmar Palace are numbered.