Sunday, June 05, 2011

Mesbah-Yazdi and Ahmadinejad

Ayatollah Mohammad-Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi has launched an attack on key elements of Ahmadinejad's administration:
"'Religion is in Danger' are the words of Ayatollah Mohammad-Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, a hardline cleric who was once a staunch supporter of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Once considered President Ahmadinejad’s mentor, Mesbah-Yazdi is warning the faithful that Islam is 'in danger' by none other than President Ahmadinejad’s close colleagues and associates, now referred to as “the deviant faction.”

"For some time now, opponents of President Ahmadinejad have been referring to Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaiee, president’s Chief of Staff, and his close associates as the ‘deviant faction’ because conservatives and principalists believe that Mashaiee and his men have deviated from the principles of the conservative movement, such as a strong commitment to Velayat Faqih and clerical Islam. The so-called ‘deviant faction’ has also faced harsh criticism from the clerical establishment which accuses Mashaiee and his colleagues of having 'false and heretical beliefs.'"

This is different than the commonly reported fissures between Ahmadinejad's principlist movement and the old clerical guard such as Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i. Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi has long been considered the spiritual leader of Ahmadinejad and his faction, someone who was potentially using the president to lay groundwork for his own ascension to the Leadership after Khamene'i's death. The linked article also mention criticism of Ahmadinejad from the IRGC leadership. Ahmadinejad has been so close to the IRGC that some have spoken of the 2009 election in the context of the militarization of Iranian politics along lines similar to what you see in Arab regimes.

What has caused this apparent split between Ahmadinejad and the two closest institutional backers? My best guess is that Ahmadinejad, who has already become more powerful than Iranian presidents have traditionally been, is now somehow moving in a direction that threatens those institutional backers. Mesbah-Yazdi, for example, may want the Khamene'i personally weakened, but he doesn't want Ahmadinejad to go too far in undermining the prerogatives of the supreme clerical office Mesbah-Yazdi himself one day hopes to inherit. Something similar may be happening with the IRGC.

Whatever the case, these developments are significant given the constellation of forces which rule Iran, and bear watching.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home