TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s embattled president fired back Wednesday after a wave of arrests against his allies, claiming it’s part of a “politically motivated” campaign to undermine his government and display the power hard-line forces loyal to the country’s ruling clerics.
The sharp-edged accusations by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad highlight his stunning transition from favored son of the theocracy to an apparent adversary after seeking to expand the authority of the presidency and challenge the clerics’ grip on shaping politics and policies.
Dozens of the president’s allies have been detained over the past months — including four senior government officials last week — in the evolving power struggle.
“These moves (arrests) are politically motivated. It’s clear to us that it is aimed at pressuring the government,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.
He also warned authorities to keep the political purges from reaching the ministers in his government.
“The cabinet is the red line,” he was quoted as saying. “But if my colleagues are accused then I have the legal … responsibility to stand up and defend my colleagues.”
For Ahmadinejad, the showdown has left him politically weakened with nearly two years left on his second and final term — suggesting that the Islamic establishment will keep a tight rein on affairs and is unlikely to offer any dramatic shifts in the standoff with the West over Iran’s nuclear pr… >>>