Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei and Ahmadinejad 311 (R).
(photo credit: Reuters)
A two-week row between Iran’s ruling cleric and president intensified this
weekend, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued an ultimatum to President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad to either reinstate the country’s intelligence chief or resign,
Iranian media reported.
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Late last month, Khamenei vetoed Ahmadinejad’s
decision to dismiss Heydar Moslehi as intelligence minister.
the DPA news agency, the Iranian website Ayandeh quoted a presidential adviser
as saying that in a meeting this week between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, the
ayatollah pushed the president to either accept Moslehi back into the
government, or step down.
Ahmadinejad has not yet responded to the
ultimatum, the official reportedly said.
Tensions between the two leaders
grew when Ahmadinejad held an 11-day walkout, apparently in protest of
Khamenei's decision to reinstate the minister, Britain’s Guardian newspaper
Moslehi was absent from the first cabinet meeting held since
the president ended his protest, and was reportedly asked to leave by
Ahmadinejad during the second cabinet meeting.
The supreme leader firmly
supported Ahmadinejad following his 2009 reelection, a vote that was
overshadowed by allegations of election fraud.
Meanwhile, clerics close
to Khamenei have launched a campaign to highlight his role in Iranian politics,
saying that to disobey him is equal to apostasy, as he is “God’s representative
on earth,” the Guardian reported. Although Khamenei is not constitutionally
allowed to intervene in cabinet appointments, an unwritten law obligates
officials to abide by all of the ruling cleric’s dictates.
semi-official Mehr news agency reported Thursday that several members of
parliament had revived efforts to summon the president for questioning over “the
recent events.” The agency said 90 MPs had signed the petition, up from only 12
last week. Under Iranian law, at least 85 more signatures are required for a
possible impeachment of the president.
On Wednesday, Iranian websites
reported authorities had arrested a number of Ahmadinejad allies on suspicion of
being “magicians” and invoking jinns, or evil spirits.
detained were Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, as well as
Abbas Ghaffari, an official described as “a man with special skills in
metaphysics and connections with the unknown worlds,” according to the Ayandeh
Many conservative clerics have also criticized Mashaei,
Ahmadinejad’s closest aide, for promoting an “Iranian school” of Islam they
consider both religiously impure and dangerously
Ahmadinejad has thrown his support behind Mashaei, causing
clergy circles to accuse the president of trying to undermine the Islamic
character and principles of the country.
The jostling for influence comes
less than a year before a parliamentary election that will likely be between
fellow conservatives. Leading reformist candidates are unlikely to be allowed to
stand if they are deemed too close to the opposition Green Movement, which the
establishment considers part of a foreign- backed conspiracy to overthrow the