The political situation inside Iran remains murky, to put it mildly, in the aftermath of last June’s turbulent election. But some clues can be found in the recent purge of the country’s intelligence service. The turmoil suggests that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is pushing to tighten his control of the regime, even at the cost of alienating some powerful fellow conservatives. But the decisive voice remains the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. His legitimacy has taken a hit – and he’s riding a tiger in trying to control Ahmadinejad – but he’s still No. 1.
The head of the IntelligenceMinistry, a ferocious cleric named Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei who is nicknamed “the viper” by some Iranians, was dismissed in late July. Four top deputies in the ministry were also sacked in what one US analyst likened to a Stalinist purge. In the process, Ahmadinejad made some potentially dangerous enemies.