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Who Rules Iran? Iranian Ambitions

Posted on February 8 2010 10:09 am
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by Reza Molavi and K. Luisa Gandolfo

In the 30-year reign of Iran’s Islamic Republic, there have been few controversies as serious as the one surrounding the 2009 elections. The votes that brought Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power for a second term have been challenged, not just on paper, but by citizens taking to the streets in angry protests that have only been quelled by brute force on the part of the establishment. Less well known is the upset that followed Ahmadinejad’s nepotistic appointment of Esfandiar Rahim Masha’i, the father of his daughter-in-law, to the post of first vice president. Not long after this, Iran’s supreme leader, ‘Ali Khamenei, demonstrated his personal authority over the entire political system by forcing Ahmadinejad to reconsider his appointee, leading to Masha’i’s dismissal. Masha’i had become controversial for his impolitic references to Israel and America. In a speech at a tourism convention in July 2008, for example, he had observed: “Not only we have no enemy, but we are friends with the American people, with the Israeli people, and we are proud that we are friendly with all the nations in the world.”[1]

How did this happen? How did a man holding such views on two countries regarded throughout Iran as the Great and Lesser Satan come to such an important public position? Was something less obvious going on? Why was it so important for Khamenei to risk such a public censure of the president?

Read more at the Middle East Forum.

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