Sunday, April 17, 2011

Intelligence Minister to Stay – Disunity Among Iran Leaders

By Nader Uskowi

In a rare public display of disunity among the senior leaders of the Islamic Republic, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenie today overruled President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and asked the country’s intelligence minister to stay on his post. Earlier in the day, the official news agency IRNA reported that Ahmadinejad had accepted the resignation of Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi. The semiofficial Fars News Agency then quoted unnamed senior government officials that Moslehi had been fired by Ahmadinejad.

Last week, Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff and closest political ally, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, was forced out of office by hardliners who considered his championship of the Iranian identity of Islamic Republic a direct challenge to the country’s clerical establishment. The intelligence minister Moslehi, himself a hardliner cleric, was thought to have lead the push to oust Mashaie.

Khamenei’s move once again proved his supreme authority, ruling the country as a supreme leader for life, pretty much like a shah, with Ahmadinejad acting as his prime minister, notwithstanding his official title of president. Khamenei’s move, coming days after Mashaie was sacked, further undermines Ahmadinejad’s power and authority in the rough-and-tumble politics of the Islamic Republic.


Paul said...

This is in fact a sign of Ahmadinejad's growing courage, and defiance of Khamenei and the clerical establishment, and his growing popular support, both among the seculary greens (via Mashai and pro "Iranian" statements and actions), and the conservative religious and the military/Sepah (via appealing to Emam Zaman and pointing at the clerics as roots of Iran's problems past 30 years). Look for Ahmadinejad to use this latest episode to his benefit as well - the supreme leader will not have the 'face' to overrule him in a second decision in the near future. These are all increasingly politically astute and smart moves by Ahmadinejad.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty much how "the system" works for the Islamic Republic of Iran, particularly with a bold president in office.

Obviously AN had planned ahead for either eventuality, retaining the Intel Min as an advisory while accepting his resignation.

Very much unlike the Shah's regime, Nader, current Iranian politics is very much fluid and dynamic. It is a mistake to consider this an inherent sign of weakness.

int 91h said...

"Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie" not "Eskandar Rahim Mashaie"!

Nader Uskowi said...

Anon 12:01 AM,

I had made two points:
(a) these developments were a public display of disunity. I had not used the word "weakness". Although these forms of disunity in the longterm could result weakening the system.

(b) if anything, these developments show the "supreme" nature of Khamenei's power; like a shah or a president-for-life, a system so familiar to the peoples of that region. Khamenei's move was not from "weakness," but from total strength. But politics, especially the rough-and-tumble varieties, are not win-win games, and inherently someone strength would eventually weakens someone else's, in this case Ahmadinejad.

Anonymous said...

How far AN is going to appease khamenei is to be seen. It will be very difficult for him to antagonise the Supreme Leader on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

OH MY! Ahmadinejad must be very must be very careful....

Khamenei's supporters have been trying to elevate his religious status. Many call him Imam Khamenei and claim he is an associate of the Hidden Imam who they believe will appear to bring peace and justice on Earth.

Anonymous said...

I think its a bone thrown to the west by the Iranian establishment to rejoice, then to disappoint.