Gulf News editorial: Ahmadinejad in a spot against supreme leader - May 1, 2011

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A crisis in Iran is coming to a head which may weaken President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, leaving him as a lame duck president till 2013 when his term in office ends. This would have important implications across all aspects of government, including its foreign and nuclear policy, as well as its very poor management of the economy.
Ahmadinejad appears to be losing a serious showdown with his former political mentor Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, leaving Ahmadinejad with what may be a desperate last appeal to the people as he seeks an unedited speech on national TV in the next few days. Ahmadinejad's problem with appealing to the people is that he himself helped wreck the power of popular opinion when he crushed the opposition Green Movement, and the structures of that repression are still in place, but controlled by the supreme leader.
The present dispute is over the Ministry of Intelligence's power to vet candidates in Iran's general elections. The ministry has been a bastion of the supreme leader's supporters, and Ahmadinejad foresaw his candidates being rejected for next year's parliamentary elections. He sought to change this by sacking the Intelligence Minister, Heydar Moslehi, but was rebuffed by Khamenei who both publicly rebuked the president, his former protege, and then humiliated Ahmadinejad by ordering the minister's reinstatement.
Tension mounted all last week as Ahmadinejad refused to go to cabinet and government meetings. As the non-clerical leader of Iran's more strident conservatives, he is being challenged by the more mainstream conservatives. The parliamentary leadership under Ali Larijani is against him; most of the senior clerics want him out, particularly due to their hatred of Ahmadinejad's influential aide and possible successor Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai; and the Revolutionary Guards show no sign of wanting to choose a side and definitely not Ahmadinejad's side.

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