How ironic? In what will inevitably invoke comparisons to the 2009 Iranian election protests, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denounced the government’s decision to bar his chief aid from entering the upcoming election. The Associated Press reports that Ahmadinejad will use all his remaining political clout to challenge the right for his confidant, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei to seek candidacy.
Other Iranian reformers with more progressive platforms were also left off the list, including former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was removed from contention after government officials feared that his name might spark up renewed uprisings. The recent political strife in Iran has led to a released statement from Iran's police chief, Gen. Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghaddam, who was quoted this week by the official Islamic Republic News Agency as saying it was "permissible to spill the blood" of anyone opposing Iran's system called "velayat-e-faqih," loosely translated as rule of the clerics.
The Iranian president, known for his inflammatory threats against Western views, is desperately attempting to hang on to power as the end of his term nears. According to the AP:
“Ahmadinejad — once seen as firmly within the theocracy's fold — is now viewed by the leadership as a troublesome maverick after trying to challenge the authority of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Ahmadinejad's attempt to expand the presidential reach was a costly miscalculation. It collapsed his standing with Khamenei — who stood by him during the 2009 riots and protests — and greatly undercut his influence. Dozens of his allies have been arrested or politically marginalized.”
Though Ahmadinejad has promised to fight this self-described “injustice”, his only alternative move would be to appeal directly to the Ayatollah—an unlikely strategy following his recent outbursts. And while political analysts believe Ahmadinejad could form his own opposition faction, the party’s views wouldn’t differ much from the status quo, and would be a matter of self-preservation for the weakened president.
The title of “president” in Iran is often misunderstood as the top position in Iran when actually the Ayatollah, elected by an assembly of clerics, maintains the final say in all decisions. The current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his Guardian Council are tasked with whittling down the list of over 600 presidential hopefuls.
Iran is host to a number of diverse political factions from ultra-conservative to liberal leaning, but their voices are seldom heard. The Guardian Council enjoys operating under the guise of a democracy, and will inevitably select presidential nominees that fall in line with their own ideology.
The 2009 Iranian protests marked one of the first times a non-Ayatollah sponsored nominee, a member of the Green Movement, had threatened the balance of power in Iran. The rebellion quieted down after the United States and other Western powers refused to lend support. Ayatollah Khamenei was eventually forced to step in and denied repeated requests for an appeal.
Iran appears to be headed for the same economic woes and acidic foreign policy that have tarnished the countries reputation over the past decade. It’s only fitting that President Ahmadinejad, the man whose government defended him during a rigged election, has decided to accuse them of the very same exploit—reiterating the continued narrative of a dysfunctional country suffering from its own hypocrisy.