President Ahmadinejad’s controversial choice of Eskandar Mashaie for his first vice president bowed out three days after his appointment [Press TV, 19 July]. The post, somewhat equivalent to the position of prime minister, was held during the first four-year term of Ahmadinejad’s presidency by Parviz Davoudi, a former economics professor.
Mashaie’s appointment came under harsh criticism by the conservatives, normally allies of Ahmadinejad. They objected to a remark he had made last year saying the Israeli people were friends of the Iranians. The appearance of nepotism (Mashaie’s daughter is married to Ahmadinejad’s son) also did not help his case. Hossein Shariatmadari, the influential editor of ultra-conservative Kayhan, all but doomed Mashaie’s appointment in a harshly worded editorial on Saturday.
With Mashaie’s withdrawal today, Ahmadinejad’s already battered image and influence, after the strong challenge mounted by the reformists and moderates to his re-election, got even worse. The last thing he needed was being attacked by Shaiatmadari and the conservatives on the very first appointment to his new cabinet. He should have expected the reaction from the right to this nomination, but it seems that he may be loosing touch with the realities on the ground.
UPDATE (20 July): Mashaie's website denies he is quitting: "The rumors have been spread by enemies of the government," the website said. Iran's government-owned Press TV had announced the resignation on Sunday.