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.