[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/08/17/iran.political.tensions/art.ahmadinejad.isna.jpg caption="From left: former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Sadeq Larijani and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."]
The New Republic
Ever since the June 12 election, the world has seen signs of serious rifts in the ranks of the Islamic regime in Iran. The main locus of these tensions was between the regime (led by the triumvirate of Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) and regime defectors like Mir Hossein Moussavi, Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mohammad Khatami, and Mehdi Karubi. The opposition repeatedly stood up to Khamenei, defying his orders instead of accepting them as absolute and final. For this transgression, almost 2,000 people are still incarcerated, and at least 20 have been killed in prison and in demonstrations.
During the past week, the Iranian political crisis took a surprising new turn, when the first major rift in the ranks of the triumvirate who engineered the June electoral coup became public. The crisis began when Ahmadinejad, still not sworn in as the new president–or, more accurately, before the "consultative" vote of the people in the general election had been confirmed by the supreme leader–decided to name Rahim Mashai, a man widely understood to be his intellectual guru and also his son's father-in-law, to the all important position of first deputy president.
Immediately after the Mashai appointment was made public, a chorus of conservative voices demanded its repeal, claiming that Mashai's apparent sins were unforgivable. A few months ago, he had been accused of saying Islam does not have the ability to cope with twenty-first-century problems, and that Iranians have no natural enmity against the citizens of Israel. Ahmadinejad ignored demands for firing Mashai, defending him as one of the most pious men he has ever had the good fortune to meet. Aside from family ties, the two men share a passion for the messianic return of Shiism's Twelfth Imam.
Filed under: Iran
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