Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar writes: Four months before the next presidential election, Iran’s conservative establishment is facing a security threat: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Four years ago, a controversial election that reinstated President Ahmadinejad brought millions of Iranians into a face-to-face confrontation with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Now, it is Ahmadinejad who is coming face-to-face with the very man who lifted him out of obscurity and granted him worldwide fame and unparalleled support against all pillars of the Islamic Republic.
During an unprecedented debate at the parliament, which ended in mayhem and the dismissal of the labor minister, Ahmadinejad played a video that implicated the powerful Larijani brothers, two of whom head the judiciary and legislative bodies, of corruption and nepotism. Sunday’s impeachment put Ahmadinejad’s remaining presidency in danger since many of his allies in the cabinet have had similar fates. At this fiery session that was being broadcast live on state radio, he threatened and eventually played the video to prove a backroom deal that involved the Larijani family. In response, the speaker of the parliament accused Ahmadinejad of mafia type activities and did not allow him to continue. Ahmadinejad angrily left the parliament and moments later 192 out of 272 members of parliament voted in favor of the impeachment.
With the next election just around the corner, the supreme leader fears that these public exchanges may once again dangerously polarize the polity and the country. During a meeting to resolve the tensions between the president and the speaker of the parliament just a few weeks ago, Khamenei frustratingly asked them not to publicize their differences. In October 2012, he even warned: “From today until the election day, whoever uses people’s emotions to create conflicts, has definitely betrayed the country.” In a country where political campaigns have turned into massive social movements, normal elections are seen by the government as unusual security threats. Khamenei recalls the 1997 and 2005 presidential elections that gave rise to the Reform and Green Movements, respectively. Looking at the increasing intensity of the past upheavals, he has good reason to worry that the next election could lead to turmoil and obliterate his office. [Continue reading…]