260 members of the Iranian Majlis, out of the parliament’s 290 MPs, in a letter have urged President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to end an eight-day boycott and accept the supreme leader’s decision to reinstate the intelligence minister. The letter was apparently written after an extraordinary close-door session of Majlis on Thursday and was disclosed today by the media.
“You are expected to adhere to the supreme leader and put an end to that which our enemies are taking advantage of,” the lawmakers wrote [Mashreq, 30 April].
Ahmadinejad has refused to attend his cabinet meetings and be present at his office since Ayatollah Khamenei reinstated the minister of intelligence Moslehi hours after Ahmadinejad had fired him.
Uskowi on Iran reported last Wednesday that Ahmadinejad has put three conditions for his return to presidency: Moslehi leaving the intelligence ministry, his political confident Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie reassuming the office of the first vice president, and the head of the Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili to be fired. Khamenei has not accepted any of the three conditions yet.
Last Sunday, examining Ahmadinejad’s challenge to Khamenei’s authority, we wrote that he was proclaiming a new normal for the Islamic Republic, continuing as president while disobeying the supreme leader’s orders. Something Khamenei and the conservative clerical establishment are apparently not in any mood to accept.
But the current political crisis, the most serious since President Bani Sadr was impeached and forced into exile in 1981, goes beyond the obedience issue. Ahmadinejad, Mashaie and company are introducing a nationalistic and romantic narrative of the Iranian history, emphasizing the Iranian identity of the country to be at least equal if not higher than its Islamic identity, or as they call it the Iranian Islam. The clerical establishment that came to power more than thirty years ago on the notion of exclusivity of Islam in determining the country’s identity does not agree, and sees Ahmadinejad's new-found love for the Iranian identity as serious challenge to its authority.
Meanwhile, the rulers in Tehran seem to have put serious issues facing Iran in the backburner for now: the alarming economic situation in the country and the rapidly changing political landscape in the Middle East.