Possible rift reported in Iranian leadership

'The Guardian' reports Ahmadinejad hasn't been seen in public since Khamenei overruled his decision to fire a key minister.

Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei and Ahmadinejad 311 (R) (photo credit: Reuters)
Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei and Ahmadinejad 311 (R)
(photo credit: Reuters)
A rift between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei appears to be deepening, Britain’s Guardian has reported.
Ahmadinejad hasn’t been seen in public and has refused to chair several cabinet meetings since a key decision was overruled by the supreme leader nearly two weeks ago, the paper said.
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Earlier this month, Ahmadinejad forced the resignation of Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi only to see him reinstated by Khamenei. Iran’s supreme leader holds nearly all-encompassing veto power over all decisions in the Islamic Republic.
Several days later, Khamenei made a public statement reinforcing his supreme authority, stressing his constitutional right to veto any and all decisions that affect national interests.
An Associated Press report speculated that Khamenei is formulating a new political team absent of Ahmadinejad loyalists to lead the Iranian government.
In addition to the missed cabinet meetings, Ahmadinejad also reportedly cancelled a planned official visit to the holy city of Qom, prompting conservative Iranian politicians to accuse him of “sulking,” according to the Guardian report.
The Iranian supreme leader, also the top Shi’ite cleric in the Islamic Republic, is reportedly concerned over the prospect of losing influence in the two ministries he traditionally holds significant sway over – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Intelligence Ministry, according to the UK paper.
Late last year, Ahmadinejad fired his foreign minister while the latter was in the middle of an official overseas trip. The move was widely understood to be an attempt by the president to exert his influence over the country’s foreign policy.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is often pointed to as one of the bastions of Ahmadinejad’s power base, has also seemingly inserted itself into the rift between Iran’s two most powerful figures.
According to the Guardian report, several prominent figures in the Revolutionary Guard have approached the president and asked him to comply with Khamenei.
Iran’s parliament is also reportedly involving itself. Following calls by several MPs for Ahmadinejad to support the reinstatement of the intelligence minister, a report that “the plan to impeach Ahmadinejad has begun” surfaced on a website run by Iranian members of parliament, according to the Guardian.