Quelle: Weekly Worker, 19.05. 2011, mehr zu den bizarreren Aspekten der ganzen Auseinandersetzungen hier:
Weekly Worker 866 Thursday May 19 2011
God’s representative in Tehran sees off 12th Shia imam fan
What lies behind the power struggle in Iran? Yassamine Mather looks at the contending factions
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: rebuffed
Just as it seemed president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s submission to the wishes of supreme leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei would hold together the conservative factions currently in power in Iran, the conflict at the top reignited last week – proof of the depth of the political crisis facing the country.
On May 14 Ahmadinejad fired three key cabinet ministers and on May 16 declared himself ‘caretaker for the oil ministry’. The cabinet members – oil minister Masoud Mirkazemi, welfare and social security minister Sadeq Mahsouli and industry minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian – had been at the centre of a power struggle between parliament and the presidency.
On May 8 MPs had opposed Ahmadinejad’s plans to merge a number of ministries. Ali Larijani, the speaker of the majles (parliament) and a close ally of the supreme leader, dismissed them: “The government has no right to announce such policies before the majles approves them.” Ahmadinejad responded immediately, saying his cabinet had been charged with reducing the number of ministries from 21 to 17, which it has proceeded to do. He told Larijani he should inform himself about the country’s constitution and stop “creating unnecessary confusion”. However, the president was then rebuked by the powerful Council of Guardians. The council, whose members are selected by the supreme leader and which has the responsibility of overseeing government adherence to the Islamic constitution, rejected the plans for merging a number of ministries, leaving Ahmadinejad in even deeper trouble.
A lot has been said and written about spirits, sorcery, jinns (genies) … however, for all the references to supernatural beings, the conflict has its roots in a good, old-fashioned power struggle between, on the one side, landed old money, senior ayatollahs and their periphery and, on the other, what they call tazeh bedoran ressideh ha (the nouveaux riches or new rich) in the Ahmadinejad camp. This at a time when the Iranian state is feeling the pressure emanating from the major uprisings across the region and from the continuing protest movement inside Iran.
Over the last few years analysts and commentators have identified a new powerful military-bureaucratic group around the Pasdaran militia (revolutionary guards), which is answerable to Ahmadinejad and capable of taking power away from senior clerics. The events of the last few weeks have proved above all else the fallacy of such claims. Clearly military/revolutionary guard support for Ahmadinejad depended entirely on a nod from the supreme leader. Every time the president tried to negotiate a compromise regarding his responsibility in naming or dismissing ministers (a power clearly given to him by the Iranian constitution), everyone from Pasdaran leaders to clerics and civilian religious figures united in taking the side of the supreme leader. In more than three weeks of power struggle, not one leading member of the revolutionary guards came out openly for Ahmadinejad and his band of tazeh bedoran ressideh ha.
Iran’s Islamic Republic is no stranger to internal political crises. However, the serious differences and conflict between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei have sometimes seemed to paralyse the daily functions of government. The US administration is now talking of “structural crisis in the Iranian state”. The latest stand-off all started in April, when Ahmadinejad found out that a number of officials close to his office, including his former chief of staff and heir apparent Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, were under electronic surveillance by agents of the ministry of intelligence. According to one government official, “Top intelligence commanders of the revolutionary guard … bugged the office of Mashaei – as they must – and monitored his private and public political behaviour.”
Apparently, Mashaei, who is a former intelligence ministry official himself, discovered the electronic devices and promptly fired his deputy, Hassan Abdollahian, amid allegations of betrayal. On April 17 Ahmadinejad ordered intelligence minister Heydar Moslehi to hand in his resignation. The supreme leader overruled Ahmadinejad and all hell broke loose.
Under the Iranian constitution, the president clearly has the right to dismiss his ‘chosen’ ministers, but the problem is Moslehi was an appointee of the supreme leader. Khamenei and his supporters justify his interventions by referring to the principle of maslahat, the greater interest of Islam, implying it had been violated by Moslehi’s dismissal.
A cleric has always held the position of intelligence minister since the 1979 revolution and during the presidencies of both Mohammad Khatami and Ahmadinejad, the appointment has always been made in conjunction with the offices of god’s representative on earth, ayatollah Khamenei. Moslehi’s dismissal would have weakened the position of the clerics in keeping control of the unruly president and his controversial ‘advisor’, Mashaei. Over the last few years Mashaie has been blamed for spreading ‘nationalism’ (placing Iranian values above Islamic principles) and for the infamous claim that “Today, Iran is a friend of the United States and Israeli nations.” The ministry of intelligence was keeping tabs on Mashaei and others in Ahmadinejad’s inner circle under the direct orders of Khamenei’s office. Moslehi was reappointed by the supreme leader within a couple of hours after being told by Ahmadinejad to quit.
In a huff
Ahmadinejad went into a huff, staying at home for eight days and boycotting cabinet meetings for almost two weeks, and he threatened to resign himself. He eventually returned to the cabinet in early May a much weaker president, forced to bow down after considerable pressure from the allies of the supreme leader in the majles, army and revolutionary guards. The president was also forced to accept the return of Moslehi as minister of intelligence and even tolerate his presence at cabinet meetings. Moslehi is well known for his obsession with conspiracy theories – he uncovers ‘foreign plots’ and ‘spy rings’ on a regular basis – and wasted no time after the death of Osama bin Laden denying that the US had killed him: “He died some time ago due to sickness … we have exact information to prove this.”
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