Informed sources in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have told Al Arabiya that Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, instructed the Minister of Intelligence Heidar Moslehi to clear the ministry of supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, “especially in the circle of the senior officials.”
The sources said Mr. Moselhi had already begun following Ayatollah Khamenei’s directive even before the president dismissed him last month from his position. Mr. Moselhi was reinstated after the ayatollah issued a mandatory order to Mr. Ahmadinejad.
President Ahmadinejad made some obstacles in implementing Khamenei’s order, which engendered a severe crisis threatened between them.
On the other hand Mr. Ahmadinejad is planning to adjust the ring of the seniors surrounding him in the government and to get rid of those who oppose his policy in dealing with Ayatollah Khamenei.
Mr. Mashaie, the president’s top adviser and close relative who has worked alongside Mr. Ahmadinejad for more than 25 years, has been the target of a barrage of criticism from the conservative camp in past weeks.
Mr. Mashaie, who has been condemned for being too liberal, holding nationalistic views dating back to pre-Islamic Iran, and for having a great influence on the president, is now accused of leading a “current of deviation” aimed at destroying the Islamic regime.
The conservatives also accuse him of orchestrating the attempted sacking of Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi in mid-April, which was vetoed by the supreme leader.
The aborted dismissal triggered an unprecedented political crisis in the higher echelons of Iran’s regime, with President Ahmadinejad expressing his displeasure by withdrawing from public life and official duties for 10 days.
Several conservative Websites have recently hinted that Mr. Mashaie may be connected to the practice of black magic, while the judiciary has announced the arrest of two “sorcerers” but stopped short of linking them to the chief of staff.
The rumors have gained enough momentum to prompt Mr. Ahmadinejad to deny them publicly.
“Those who have spoken in recent days about the influence of fortune tellers and jinn (shape-shifting spirits) on government were telling jokes,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said on May 8.
Iran’s first Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi hit back hard at the accusation by the ultra-conservatives.
“Some people speak of sorcery and jinns and attribute them to the government. Is it possible to govern the country with sorcery and jinns? Is it possible to send satellites into the sky (using them)? Science is behind all these issues,” Mr. Rahimi was quoted in some local papers.
“How could they attribute such things to Dr. Ahmadinejad, the president and a (university) professor?” Mr. Rahimi added.
Another vice president, Hamid Baghaie, defended Mr. Mashaie against accusations of deviancy, characterizing them as “slander.”
Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, who heads the powerful Guardians Council, a body that oversees elections, interprets the constitution and vets parliamentary legislation, warned President Ahmadinejad last Friday that he could not protect Mr. Mashaie forever.
Mr. Ahmadinejad wants all his aides to fully comply with and obey Mr. Mashaie, who some sources said the Revolutionary Guards was planning to arrest on charges of promoting superstition to demolish the pillars of the Islamic Republic.
Mr. Ahmadinejad also seeks to reduce the numbers of ministries.
Meanwhile critics of the president continue to warn him about the fate of first president of the Islamic Republic of Abul-Hassan Bani-Sadr, who was ousted in 1981. Mr. Bani-Sadr spent subsequent years in Paris, living as an exile.