Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday dismissed his controversial chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie. The surprise development came after months of concerted attacks on Mashaie by senior clerics and the hardliners. Mashaie promoted the concept of an Iranian school of Islam as the ideological underpinning of a new Islamic Republic, coopting Iranian nationalism to transform itself beyond its narrow appeal to religious feelings of the population. He was expected to run for presidency in 2013 after Ahmadinejad’s second term ends. The hardliners had other ideas and it appears they could finally get Khamenei’s support to dump him.
Ahmadinejad appointed Hamid Baghaie, a close aide and director of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, to replace Mashaie as his chief of staff. Mashaie would still hold other government posts, but it was his role as the chief of staff and Admadinajad’s top operative that gave him the platform and the exposure he used so effectively to make headlines.
File Photo: IRNA