Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

President on offense and defense

The political battle among the power elite in Iran continues.

Ahmadinejad goes on the offensive against clerical opponents
For months, Iran’s clerical establishment and Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders have been trying to curb the powers of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In recent weeks, the president has fought back, using combative speeches and threats to reveal his opponents’ corruption in order to hold on to his job.

The tactics appear to be working, according to parliament members and analysts.

Once thought to be a political has-been, Ahmadinejad has defied expectations…

After a falling out in the spring with the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ahmadinejad’s position had appeared untenable…

Even before the public dispute began, tensions between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei had been brewing for more than a year. Ahmadinejad’s government had refused to enforce what hard-line clerics consider the proper etiquette for women wearing the veil, promoted Iran’s pre-Islamic history and flirted with talks with the United States — all of which defied the supreme leader or his allies.

Ahmadinejad’s opponents now accuse the president and his close advisers of being a “deviant current” plotting to take power from the Shiite clerics who have led Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

But Ahmadinejad has struck back with equal ferocity. Allegations of corruption against senior leaders of Iran’s system were long considered taboo but have now become a recurring theme of the president’s speeches. Such allegations are popular with ordinary Iranians, many of whom have long accused top clerics of accumulating wealth through their influential positions…

About the same time as the speech, documents were leaked to the press linking a key Ahmadinejad opponent in parliament to a major embezzlement case. Meanwhile, the president won a key vote in parliament that he had been widely expected to lose…

Analysts say the president’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric is forcing the clerical and security establishment to make a decision on Ahmadinejad’s political future.

“It is clear there will be no compromise possible with Ahmadinejad,” said Abbas Abdi, a political analyst who opposes the government’s policies and some decisions by Iran’s clerical leaders. “If anybody wants to put him aside, it will come at great political costs.”

Iran arrests President Ahmadinejad's press adviser: report
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's media adviser was arrested on Monday in his office by the judiciary, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported, without giving a reason for his arrest…

Iranian authorities shut down reformist Etemad newspaper on Sunday after it published a scathing attack by Javanfekr on the president's rival conservatives…

Iran's conservatives accuse Ahmadinejad of being in the thrall of a "deviant current" of advisers seeking to undermine the authority of the clergy in the Islamic Republic's system of government.

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