Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today named his chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei as the head of the secretariat of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Iran currently holds NAM’s rotating presidency. The high profile position will give Mashaie much-needed international experience and exposure if he were to run for presidency in 2013. Due to term limits, Ahmadinejad will be ineligible to run next year.
Iran’s hardliners consider Mashaie an archenemy. They accuse him of leading the “Deviationist Movement” within the Islamic Republic. His views on Iranian nationalism as an important element of Iran’s political culture does not bode well with the governing clerics who prefer to rule as the representatives of Shia’s Hidden Imam on earth.
After his reelection in 2009, Ahmadinejad named Mashaie his first vice president (principle deputy to president). The move angered conservatives and Supreme Leader Khamenei ordered Ahmadinejad to dump Mashaei. He reluctantly obeyed the order, but named Mashaie his chief of staff.
Today, Ahmadinejad praised Mashaie in his letter appointing him to NAM's top administrative position.
“I consider your excellency a competent, wise, honest man,” Ahmadinejad said. “Knowing and working with you is a divine gift and a great honor for me.” (President.ir, 1 December)
Ahmadinejad appointed Hasan Mousavi, one of his vice presidents, as his new chief of staff.
File photo: Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei (IRNA)