When in Iran

It's Getting Real Hot

In a series of further confusing internal events, some deep resentment has been forming against Ahmadinejad from conservative ranks following his appointment of Esfandiar Mashaei as his Vice President.

It's no secret: Ahmadinejad is a very convinced man who has an extraordinarily high amount of self confidence. However his refusal to dismiss Mashaei even after the Supreme Leader issued a letter urging him to do seems to be going over the edge. Mashaei himself ended up resigning (he wasn't dismissed), and in a further slap to those opposed to Mashaei, Ahmadinejad appointed him as his chief of staff. I won't even go into the irony of Ahmadinejad so staunchly defending a man who made sensitive statements towards Israel, but it is interesting to note Ahmadinejad's son is married to Mashaei's daughter.

To go even further, Ahmadinejad dismissed three of his ministers after they protested over Mashaei's appointment (although in this recent article I read, he may have reversed two of the dismissals, Ejei not included... it's just a confusing situation overall). One of them, Gholam-Hussein Mohseni-Ejei, was Minister of Intelligence -- a highly sensitive post which shouldn't, in my opinion, be subject to whimsical political disputes.

From a political survival standpoint, the dismissals seem to be a very foolish move (note the self confidence I mentioned earlier) especially since Ahmadinejad would have submitted new cabinet appointments to Majles in a couple of weeks. In other words, he didn't need to dismiss the ministers: their terms would have expired anyway. However, there's something in Ahmadinejad's personality which sometimes prevents him from being a calculating politician. Often he just forges ahead with what he believes to be right; he's that convinced in himself and his beliefs.

However, the most explosive and exciting development by far is this: according to the constitution, if "more than half of the members of Cabinet are replaced, 'the government must seek a fresh vote of confidence from Parliament,'" wrote PressTV. That means Ahmadinejad could face a vote of of no confidence from Majles and become dismissed as the president of Iran.

This is huge.

It's essentially a golden opportunity to directly challenge Ahmadinejad through completely legal means. Although the chances of the vote actually occurring seem to be quite slim due to time constraints, the possibility still exists.

Following the post election turmoil and Ahmadinejad's apparent clash with staunch conservatives -- including the Supreme Leader, his political strength has been severely sapped. I personally feel that most Iranian moderates and many conservatives who were on the line concerning Ahmadinejad have now become opposed to him following the election. Case in point is in fact the person which declared Ahmadinejad's cabinet sessions as illegal in the article above, conservative Vice Speaker of the Parliament Mohammad Reza Bahonar

Although Mousavi's insistence at opposition after the election at times seemed futile, I think it's becoming more and more clear that Mousavi made a fairly stable political move -- the opposition to Ahmadinejad, especially within the establishment itself has proved to be much more powerful than initially anticipated and with Ahmadinejad making such brash and un-calculated moves, he's only making it easier for the opposition to work against him.

In one of my first posts following the election, I mentioned that "
the biggest immediate challenge facing the Ahmadinejad administration will be to reconcile with the opposition, learn to compromise and not completely 'have it their way'... although Ahmadinejad won the election, there was legitimate opposition which has to be paid more attention."

Let me be clear: I haven't seen such a reconciliation. Ahmadinejad has refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the opposition
which was peaceful and failed to make any serious attempts at reconciliation or negotiation with them. I love my country and I want to see the turmoil stop, but for far too long the opposite sides of the Iranian aisle haven't been hearing each other. There simply must be a reconciliation and meaningful dialogue in order to make the Iranian nation stronger and prevent others from taking advantage of internal disputes in order to destroy this young Iranian Republic. This is a great opportunity to improve the country. Let's not let it go to waste.

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