Power Play In Iran



A little over a year ago I wrote an article published in Iranian.com, entitle “Final Show Down”. In the article I predicted that Iran’s political center of gravity is located in the Pasdaran Revolutionary Guards, and they will eventually push the clerics over the cliff. At the time there was no visible sign. My prediction was based on psychology of human nature. Once you get your foot on the ground, and feeling secure, you will look to see what more is there to be had. In this case we are looking at power and the wealth that comes with it. The young and the restless have to be the obvious choice, over the old, ignorant and the complacent.

It began shortly after Ahmadinejad’s second term as president. He appointed Rahim Mashaei as his first Vice-President. That did not set well with Ayatollah Khamenei, and issued an order to undo the appointment. Ahmadinejad ignored it for a week. Then, Khamenei responded by releasing a copy of the text to the national television to be read in public. He still sits on it another day. Finally Mashaei volunteers to resign. Ahmadinejad immediately appointed him as his Chief of Staff. This was the first rift and it has not stopped ever since. Later when all these demonstrations had settled down, Khamenei was informed that accusations of uprising being the work of foreign agents and the Western conspiracy is not true and that the intelligence has mislead him on the issue. The demonstrations were spontaneous due to people’s displeasure with handling of the election process. With that in mind, when the Kahrizak crimes came to surface, Khamenei took the opportunity, fired the prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi who was Ahmadinejad’s man, and shut down the facility. By then it had come to the surface that Gauds had taken over the entire Intelligence Ministry and management of the prisons. Meanwhile Mortazavi has received other appointments in government service by Ahmadinejad.

One thing has became clear to both of them is realization that the government is in a disarray. The economy is being affected by the recent sanctions, there is anxiety over possible military strikes, there is the shadow of the Green Movement looming, and nothing appears to be certain anymore. So each are in search of solution to their predicament. Ahmadinejad is getting it done with generous passing of contracts worth billions to the guard’s owned exploits. He is also shifting his policies towards reconciliation with West which is popular with Iran’s general public. And none of these is acceptable to Khamenei and his hard-line followers.

The LEU deal that was worked out in October 2009 was Ahmadinejad’s project. But as soon as it reached Iran and presented to the hardliners, was met with severe rebuke. Their answer, no negotiations, no deal with the West. Ahmadinejad did not give up. He approached it with intervention of Turkey and Brazil which was presented in May 2010. By then, it was too little too late. US had worked too hard to get China and Russia on board for these severe sanctions and were not going to let the LEU bygone deal to stifle it. So, again, Khamenei and hardliners manage to neutralize Ahmadinejad, at the expense of the best interest of the Country.

Recently, Ali Larijani, Majles speaker, one of Khomeini’s men, complained nationwide that Ahmadinejad is not employing the laws passed by Majles. Ahmadinejad responded by saying in effect, he does not implement laws that are incompatible with religion. The Guardian Council responded by telling him that it is not his job to decide what is or is not religious. It is their decision and not his. He is to do his job of executing the laws.

Ahmadinejad’s latest shift in power grab has been the attempt to take over the Azad University. It was founded by Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. It has large assets, not funded by the State, and has an independent board, with Rafsanjani as the Chairman. If he could knock off Rafsanjani from the board and replace them all by his own men that make a triple play. Spreading all that power and wealth to his bodies, dropping Rafsanjani, placing one more institution under his power. Needless to say it did not happen. Rafsanjani and Khamenei convened, then all assets were put into an endowment, Majles approved it. Ahmadinejad once again end up holding an empty bag.

As I am writing this blog, news came over TV that the American girl in Iran’s custody was released. So, this makes the last round of power play between the two evil forces. If you recall, the three, Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd were hiking in Scenic Kurdish region of Iraq, when inadvertently crossed Iran’s border and were captured on July 2009. They became a pawn in overall skim of things towards foreign policy matters as well as possible exchange for some of Iranians arrested in Iraq by the US forces. While none of that materialized, internal frustration made the trio subject of the power game. Last week Ahmadinejad intervened “as a gesture of Islamic compassion at the end of the holy month of Ramadan”. Judiciary responded by telling Ahmadinejad that they are in charge of the case and they set the rules, not him. So they set the outrageous bail of 500,000. The Revolutionary Guard issued a blunt commentary through Fars New Agency claiming the move as a slap against Iran’s security and Intelligence service. The girl got released and Ahmadinejad won this round.

That is not the end of it, things are just warming up. The taboo is gone; Khamenei is no longer the Islamic Icon that once was. Ahmadinejad is gearing up his machine for the next election, and the muscle guys are watching this power “kesh Ma Kesh”, while assessing their options. They will throw their weight in one direction or another. My bet still is on the young and the restless.


Recently by NASSER SHIRAKBARICommentsDate
Desperate measure for desperate times
Apr 17, 2011
Wealth, Poverty and Dictatorships
Mar 28, 2011
Labor Force
Mar 02, 2011
Maryam Hojjat


by Maryam Hojjat on

Very good blog with facts.