Political Situation in Iran is Still Tense

Researcher of theIrandepartment of theInstituteofOriental Studies,
National Academy of Sciencies, theRepublicofArmenia

Developments in theMiddle Easthave always been in the focus of attention of the international community. In the recent times such attention has been doubled, which is connected with the turbulent events, going on in the Arab world. There is some danger that they will spill over to the whole region, including the neighbouringIran, where after the Presidential elections of 2009 passions have not calmed down so far.

In the years past the international community quite attentively followed the situation with Iran’s nuclear program, sanctions against this country, the problems, related to women’s rights and the freedom of speech, meanwhile the most discussed issue this year is the strained relations between the Supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the President of the country,  and this fact is remarkable as such, because other problems may emerge with their specific impact on the regional developments.

By the results of the Presidential elections of 2005 the radical conservators came to power after the 16-year long rule of moderate conservators. The June 2009 elections it was more strongly fixed Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s victory (Ahmadinejad – 62.46%, the leader of the Green Movement Mir Hossein Mousavi – 33.87%). It caused a huge wave of protest by the opposition wing, which even tried to carry out the “Green revolution.” Anyway, the Supreme leader declared that Mahmud Ahmadinejad was elected President of the countries and provided him every support.

Now new clouds are gathering overIran. Internal unrest does not calm down, death penalties are executed, and international pressure is growing.

But at the same another phenomenon is emerging: serious frictions between the Supreme elite and the present Government, headed by Ahmadinejad, gain their momentum. The tension has been increased so much during a year that the sides started to take such obvious steps against each other that mass media have fixed them. The President, trying to enlarge his powers, started to dismiss the Ministers, supporting the Supreme leader. It is possible to state that the Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has tried to extend his authority, casting a shadow on the Supreme leader, which is a serious problem, as far as the supreme power inIranbelongs to the Supreme leader, now Ali Khamenei, and overshadowing him supposes systemic changes.

The first manifestation of the tension between the IRI President and Supreme leader could be seen in July 2009, when Ali discharged Vice-President Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, who, according to mass media, was Ahmadinejad’s matchmaker. The President, disagreeing with that decision, appointed him the Chief of staff of his Administration.

The next case of tension was when the IRI President dismissed the Foreign Minister Manucher Mottaki, without consultations with the Supreme leader, when Mottaki was inSenegalwith a working visit, not knowing about that decision.

A new reason for tension was the restoration of the Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslekh, who enjoyed the Supreme leader’s support, but had been discharged from his position.  This case offended the President, and he did not appear at the presidential palace for 11 days, postponing even the official meetings.  In response to such a demarche by the President, a collection of signatures was initiated at the Mejlis with the demand on Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s impeachment. Such collection was obviously carried out by the instruction of the clergy.

Understanding that the sword of Damocles was hanging on his head, President appeared at his cabinet on May 1   and tried to settle the situation. He even made a statement, indicating that nothing could cast a shadow over the close relations between him and the Supreme leader.

However, reportedly, Ahmadinejad and his team openly ignore the instructions of the Supreme leader, trying to diminish his authority.

Symptomatically, even Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s Supreme guru Yazdin, who had always been by his side for long years, also criticized the President’s behaviour, noting that it was illogical. He said that the President is under Rahim Mashaei’s influence, and Ahmadinejad prepares him for the next presidential elections of 2013.  It has become apparent, as far as Rahim Mashaei really accompanied Ahmadinejad, who promoted him very actively. The conservators had serious suspicions that Mashaei was trying to transform the present system of governance in the country. As a matter of fact, Mashaei has got such an appraisal for his views: he insists that the country should be governed from the nationalist positions, and made a statement against the current model of government by the spiritual authority.

However, giving up to the pressure from the Supreme leader, the President discharged the head of his administration Rahim Mashaei.

A couple of days later the First News agency, referring to Mehr  agency, spread a remarkable information, according to which the Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad did not include into the state budget the expenditures of the Supreme leader of the country Ayatollah Khamenei for the trip to the town of Khom. It was a real challenge to the whole clergy.

Naturally, neither the Supreme Leader, nor the clergy as a whole, have any intention to endure the available situation and give up their positions.

Another event took place those days: on May 15 the IRI President discharged the Minister of Oil Industry Masoud Mir Kazemi, and the next day appointed himself as the Minister ad interim. According to Los Angeles Times, the Council of the Guardians of the IRI Constitution found the President’s decision illegal and rejected his nomination. By the way, the Council is consisted of 12 persons, 6 of whom are appointed by the Supreme Leader, and the others by the parliament.

Soon mass media informed that 25 of President Ahmadinejad’s supporters were arrested, being accused for magic and evocation of djinns. By the way, Quran notes that people should avoid djinns and worshiping them. Even the suspicion in cooperation with djinns would be enough to be arrested.

According to MIGnews, on June 3 the Commander of the Revolution Guardians Mohammad Ali Jafari applied to the Supreme Leader for permission to arrest Mahmud Ahmadinejad. The Commander also proposed to arrest all those, who took part in the attempt to overthrow Khamenei. The Supreme Leader allowed to arrest all with the exception of the President.

On June 7, according to France Press, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei was arrested, being charged with witchcraft.  It was the clergy’s warning to the President that the measures will be even tougher, if he does not turn off the current course. This time the President did nothing to help his supporter.

Mass media also reported that in early May quite a lot of the President’s supporters were arrested, which seriously shook his positions. Remarkably, almost all of them were charged with using black magic and witchcraft.

In June 15 Members of Mejlis initiated a procedure, aimed at discharging the Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salekhi (by the way, even in case of 10 votes, he would have been enough for it). The only reason was the following: he appointed Mohammed Sharif Malekzadeh as his Deputy Minister, the man, suspected in corruption and breaching a number of IRI laws. In order to settle this problem, the Deputy Minister was hastily discharged, and according to the June 23 information, spread by France Press, Deputy Minister Mohammed Sharif Malekzadeh, also from the entourage of the President, was arrested. The Parliament once again started to discuss the issue of the President’s impeachment.

At the same time, the current status quo is advantageous for the Iranian spiritual elite for this moment, because its representatives are concerned that changes might become systemic, and that the Arab scenario may be repeated in the country as well. At the same time, the parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2012, the presidential election will be held in 2013, and some time later the elections can solve available problems some other way.

On June 29 France Press agency spread information that the President finally touched upon the topic of the arrests among his supporters and pointed out the following: “This process is politically motivated. It is apparent that they are trying to exert pressure on the Government. The cabinets of ministers are the final line, and if they are touched by anybody, my duty is to defend them. … But if my colleagues are accused, I have the legitimate right to be beside them and defend.”

Regardless this statement, which, I think, was made to “save the face,” Ahmadinejad does not enjoy such a freedom that he has had so far. Remaining president up to 2013, he will be forced to cooperate with the clergy. Otherwise he will share the fate of Abdulhasan Banisadr, who was ousted from the post of president in 1981.


Comments are closed.