Split forming in Iranian leadership?

posted at 2:55 pm on May 9, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Two years ago, Iran’s Supreme Leader threw a national election to keep Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as puppet — er, president of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Now, Ahmadinejad is apparently not on speaking terms with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.  Iran’s president finally returned to work after ten days of what can only be called a strike after Khamenei overruled Ahmadinejad on a Cabinet change, but a damaging split may have formed in Tehran for good (via The Week):

A power struggle between Iran’s top leaders could shake the Islamic Republic to its foundations, with no sign that its hardline president can regain the trust of conservative politicians and clerics, analysts say.

The unprecedented public intervention of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in reversing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s decision to dismiss the intelligence minister last month has put Iran’s Supreme Leader in the forefront of a power struggle that could harm the legitimacy of the Iranian government.

Khamenei’s status as lofty arbiter had already eroded when he quickly endorsed Ahmadinejad’s disputed 2009 re-election.

Now, he has shown no willingness to back off even after Ahmadinejad stayed at home for 10 days, boycotting cabinet meetings, in an apparent protest over the minister’s reinstatement. The president returned to work last Sunday.

The dispute has heightened the anger felt by conservatives over efforts by Ahmadinejad to wrest more control over security and foreign affairs from the clerical establishment. Now conservatives may take off the gloves, analysts say.

Let’s put the dispute in its proper context.  This is a fight between hard-line conservatives and only slightly less hard-line conservatives.  Ahmadinejad is hardly a reformer, and neither are his backers.

But that’s what makes this more than just a routine flare-up among Iran’s ruling class.  Khamenei risked a revolution to keep Ahmadinejad in office, a move that required Khamenei to cede even more power to the Revolutionary Guard in order to put down the Green Revolution.  It marginalized the clerics and made it clear to reformers that engagement in the electoral process was not going to change anything in Iran.  The ruling clique appeared to tighten for survival, and this is the first clear crack in it in two years.

Reza Khalili at Pajamas Media notes that the split could reach the Guards as well:

Over the course of last week, the hardliners, thirsty for power and with the backing of Khamenei, arrested 25 people loyal to Ahmadinejad and Mashaei and have blocked several websites allied with them. Among those arrested is the cleric Abbas Amirifar, the prayer leader of the presidential palace. He has been charged in connection with the production of the movie.

In response, the Ahmadinejad supporters, which include many in the Revolutionary Guards and Basij, warned the hardliners (supporters of Khamenei) that there will be blood and that neither Ahmadinejad nor Mashaei will allow this attack without responding.

Most significant is that no one from the inside has ever challenged Khamenei to this extent, so his prestige is diminished.

If the split affects the Guards, it could quickly lead to a serious problem for Khamenei.  The 2009 outcome showed that his continued control over Iran depends entirely on the effectiveness of his military force, which united to protect both Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.  If the two men split the Guard, the next revolution in Iran will likely put both of them up against the wall at the hands of factions within their own palace army.

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Comments

It’s the Djinns! Someone has cast a spell. A sorcerer of some sort.

Rocks on May 9, 2011 at 3:01 PM

I’m sure dear leader will help just like he did in Libya….

Yeah thats the,ticket

cmsinaz on May 9, 2011 at 3:02 PM

is it a 5.56mm NATO inflicted split??

ted c on May 9, 2011 at 3:02 PM

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Caught In Bin Laden Hideout Video

http://conservativeblogscentral.blogspot.com/2011/05/mahmoud-ahmadinejad-caught-in-bin-laden.html

Nearly Nobody on May 9, 2011 at 3:02 PM

And then the 12th Imam appears? This is soooo confusing!

cartooner on May 9, 2011 at 3:05 PM

That picture looks like the start of Family Feud, with a bearded Richard Dawson.

mikeyboss on May 9, 2011 at 3:06 PM

May the ants or the fishes consume both factions.

Schadenfreude on May 9, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Let’s put the dispute in its proper context. This is a fight between hard-line conservatives and only slightly less hard-line conservatives.

None of them are conservatives.

HalJordan on May 9, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Calling them conservatives! Where am I, HuffPo? This is Oz, isn’t it?

Cheshire Cat on May 9, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Can they both lose? Please?

teke184 on May 9, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Awww, what a shame. Couldn’t happen to a worse group of thugs.

rbj on May 9, 2011 at 3:13 PM

Calling them conservatives! Where am I, HuffPo? This is Oz, isn’t it?

Cheshire Cat on May 9, 2011 at 3:08 PM

They look conservatively dressed to me!

Shy Guy on May 9, 2011 at 3:17 PM

Let’s put the dispute in its proper context. This is a fight between hard-line conservatives totalitarians and only slightly less hard-line conservatives totalitarians.

Ok better.

tinkerthinker on May 9, 2011 at 3:19 PM

They are not conservatives, they are islamic fundamentalists. The Western liberal media has labeled them ‘conservatives’ in order to slime Western political conservatives and it’s shameful that some of us accept those labels.

slickwillie2001 on May 9, 2011 at 3:20 PM

I’ll believe it when a bagel shop opens on Shah Blvd.

Limerick on May 9, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Conservatives in THEIR government (Islamic Theocratic Dictatorship)

Is no one aware that the word has different meanings depending upon the context it is used in?

SgtSVJones on May 9, 2011 at 3:24 PM

Ahmadinejad looks like he’s no taller than Mitch Daniels.

bw222 on May 9, 2011 at 3:24 PM

Death to Israel vs. Death to America

faraway on May 9, 2011 at 3:24 PM

Let’s you and him fight.

a capella on May 9, 2011 at 3:28 PM

I got a fiver on the djinns and sorcerers to beat the spread.

Christien on May 9, 2011 at 3:34 PM

“Separation of Church and State…!”

… Oh, wait!

/

Seven Percent Solution on May 9, 2011 at 3:35 PM

If the two men split the Guard, the next revolution in Iran will likely put both of them up against the wall at the hands of factions within their own palace army.

Ins’Allah. May G-d will it so.

I don’t think the rest of us will be that lucky.

RPL on May 9, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Let’s put the dispute in its proper context. This is a fight between hard-line conservatives and only slightly less hard-line conservatives. Ahmadinejad is hardly a reformer, and neither are his backers.

Heh.

MadDogF on May 9, 2011 at 3:38 PM

With the government split like this – wouldn’t it be a prime time for the green revolut1onaries to make another push?

HondaV65 on May 9, 2011 at 3:39 PM

First an “Oh my”. Now an “Aw”?

Ed! Allahpundit hacked your login!

KeepOhioRed on May 9, 2011 at 3:51 PM

Oh yeah, they are cracking up alright.

http://en.rian.ru/world/20110509/163940737.html

nor on May 9, 2011 at 4:17 PM

Missing work is expected when you go on long trips.
It is a long trip to go all the way down the well. Once there the Mahdi has been alone for so long and lonely that he tells long stories and then grabs your arm when you want to leave. He makes such good Barbari bread and then when the hour is late he has a hide-a-bed couch with sheets at the ready. There are no way to leave and not offend as he is the chosen one and you want to bring his return you are stuck for days at a time.

tjexcite on May 9, 2011 at 4:51 PM

We’ve been hearing reports like this for a few years now, haven’t we? I’m not saying it’s wrong, but I have my doubts. I sure want this to be true and would love to see all of the ruling mobsters in that nation put to the torch by real reformers. But that just seems like wishful thinking to me.

MJBrutus on May 9, 2011 at 4:52 PM

Yes, let’s watch this play out. It would be more comfortable if there wasn’t that annoying whirring in the background. What is that? It sounds like things spinning.

BL@KBIRD on May 9, 2011 at 5:17 PM

It would be inadvisable to say anything to Iran right now as they may perceive a foreign intrusion that could unite the split factions. See how easy they play you?

BL@KBIRD on May 9, 2011 at 5:26 PM

The streets are burning in Egypt, civil war rages in Libya, tanks and snipers roam the streets knocking off civilians in Syria, and Iran is in the grip of the biggest internal power struggle since 1979.

Just imagine how bad things would be if The One had NOT been elected to soothe the globe with peace, induce everyone to like us, and cause the waters to recede.

J.E. Dyer on May 9, 2011 at 9:48 PM