Laurelle Atkinson discusses the emerging tension between Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
For approximately three weeks, an increasing disagreement between the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been apparent. The crux of the disagreement is the presidential dismissal of the Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi according to specific terms of the Iranian constitution and his subsequent reinstatement by the supreme leader via a general interpretation of the constitution. The dispute was supposed to end with Ahmadinejad’s return to office, after 10 days’ leave. However, both Ahmadinejad and Moslehi were present in the cabinet session of May 8, and since then no obvious gesture of presidential adherence to the supreme leader’s decision has been forthcoming. Presidential resistance to the supreme leader is a taboo in Iran and has not occurred for 32 years, even during the reformist era. Likewise, for the supreme leader to directly reinstate a minister who has been dismissed by the president is unprecedented.
According to many conservative media sources, Ahmadinejad’s return to the presidential office was the result of much bargaining behind-the-scenes. Nevertheless in recent days the conservatives have continued attacking Ahmadinejad along with his inner circle. Many of the conservatives are criticizing the so-called core “misled or deviant group” of Ahmadinejad administration, calling on the president to purge these disruptive forces from his inner circle.