There is much turbulence in the Iranian government today. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is not happy that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fired Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi last month. He has now given Ahmadinejad an ultimatum to either re-instate Moslehi or resign.
A sullen Ahmadinejad caught a bad case of the “blue flu,” and stopped showing up for work. According to the BBC, one of his aides wrote a blog post that said the Iranian president “is in pain, as if a thorn is stuck in his throat… he cannot take it out or swallow in.” Try that one the next time you need to grab an extra day off work because you stayed late at the sports bar to knock down one last pitcher of Amber Bock.
This dispute has boiled over into a constitutional crisis for Iran. Yes, they have one. No, it’s not just a copy of the Koran. Ahmadinejad claims the constitution gives him sole discretion over the Intelligence Minister, while Khamenei wants to know which part of “Supreme Leader” the President doesn’t understand.
This is all viewed as a proxy battle over a deeper disagreement. The Iranian president is limited to two consecutive terms, and the Tiny Terrorist’s time in office runs out in 2012. You may recall that his 2009 re-election campaign included a few procedural irregularities, leading to the brutal murder of countless innocent Iranian demonstrators.
Ahmadinejad has been grooming his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, to succeed him. As the BBC notes, “Mr Ahmadinejad and Mr Mashaei are close friends and even family; Mr Ahmadinejad’s son is married to Mr Mashaei’s daughter.”
Mashaei is also a “reformer,” which means he thinks violent tyrannical rule should be available to people who are not ayatollahs. He’s heavily into the nutty “12th Imam” cult that Ahmadinejad promotes, and which the old-guard mullahs see as a “deviant” threat to their religious authority. His slogan is “Islam Without Clerics.” The clerics do not like it.
Mashaei apparently wanted more control over the Iranian intelligence apparatus, which is a threat to the power of the clerics. They retaliated by arresting some of his close associates and charging them with… sorcery. The UK Guardian tells us that one of the detainees was described as “a man with special skills in metaphysics and connections with the unknown worlds.” You’ve got to hand it to the mullahs: they really know how to trump up a charge.
It looks like the Iranian parliament supports the Supreme Leader, but Ahmadinejad doesn’t think much of the parliament anyway. If he continues to defy Khamenei, he’ll be charged with apostasy, if not thaumaturgy and necromancy. In the interests of world peace, I’d like to suggest Iran resolve its political crisis by embracing free-market democracy and religious tolerance. Send the sorcerer dude over here, and we’ll see if we can get him a part in the sequel to Thor. I know it’s a radical solution, but it’s about time somebody in the Iranian government started thinking outside the box.