Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, President Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, said in Tehran he will sue Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, over his recent comments questioning Mashaie's loyalty to the Islamic Republic. Gen. Firouzabadi, using unusually sharp language, has accused Mashaie of working against the national security of Iran and against the principles and doctrines of the Islamic Republic. Mashaie is accused of spreading the idea that the country’s “Iranian identity” is paramount and more important than its “Islamic identity.”
The harsh attack by the country’s most senior uniformed officer against the president’s chief of staff raises thorny questions. Mashaie is not only Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff but also his closest advisor and confidant. Accusing him publicly of crimes against national security by no less a figure than the head of the armed forces is an attack on the president.
Firouzabadi himself is a powerful Basiji and a confidant of the supreme leader. Mashaie, by emphasizing the Iranian identity of the country, wants to appeal to the emerging new middle class and use it as a power base in the volatile (and increasingly uncivil) politics of the Islamic Republic, but he might not have much of a fighting chance against the head of the armed forces.