“Conservative opposition to Ahmadinejad signals troubles ahead for Khamenei”

“Conservative opposition to Ahmadinejad signals troubles ahead for Khamenei”
July 25-28, 2009
     Juan Cole argues that amidst a domestic power struggle, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has reasserted his authority among conservative leaders by publicly forcing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to withdraw his appointment of Efsandiar Rahim Mashaie as first vice president [previously covered here]. Cole believes Ahmadinejad hoped to reestablish himself as a populist leader with a moderate stance toward liberals and Israel (Informed Comment). However, Ahmadinejad could face trouble in his upcoming second term obtaining parliamentary approval for his candidates for his new cabinet. Jon Leyne points out that either supporting or abandoning Ahmadinejad would damage Khamenei’s authority, arguing that both leaders have “become prisoners of their own constituency, right-wing conservatives” (BBC).
     Ahmadinejad’s subsequent promotion of Mashaie to chief advisor, giving Mashaie oversight over energy and national security, led to a dispute in a cabinet meeting last week resulting in the dismissal of Intelligence Minister Gholam Hussein Mohseni-Ejei and the resignation of Culture Minister Mohammad-Hossein Saffar-Harandi. Analysts believe conservative leaders are “sensing weakness” in Ahmadinejad and are seeking to gain control over him (New York Times, Al Jazeera). Ahmadinejad faces a constitutionally mandated vote of confidence if half of his 21-member cabinet is reshuffled during a single term; Saffar-Harandi, whose resignation has been rejected by the government, would be the 11th cabinet member to be reassigned (Agence France-Presse).
Informed Comment | BBC | New York Times | Al Jazeera | Agence France-Presse


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