Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2nd L) is received by Ali Akbar Velayati (L), advisor to the Islamic republic's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, upon his arrival in Tehran on March 3, 2008 after an historic two-day visit to neighbouring Iraq. Ahmadinejad today urged US-led foreign forces to leave the war-ravaged nation, saying without them the region will 'live in peace.' Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, perhaps best known for his vows to "wipe Israel off the map," seems to be building an entirely new set of enemies -- and not the ones you'd expect at first blush. In his newfound crusade to champion Iran's underprivileged, the rabid anti-Semite and Holocaust-denier has called for the "redistribution" of wealth held by the country's "elite few."
In a speech at Kermanshah Wednesday, Ahmadinejad proclaimed that Iran's economy should "not be controlled by 3,000 or 10,000 people."
That "elite minority," whose wealth the Iranian president seeks to co-opt, includes Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, his son Mojtaba, and select members of the Revolutionary Guard. Needless to say the Supreme Leader is none too pleased and Ahmadinejad's proxies fear retribution.
According to a report in the Israeli news outlet DEBKAfile. Iranian sources now claim that Ahmadinejad's friends and relations are headed for the hills, selling property and packing their bags poised to flee the country. Fears of the Ayatollah's retribution abound.
Still, calls for wealth redistribution are only the latest in a string of slights the Iranian president has made against the Ayatollah. In fact, the Iranian president, now in his second four-year term, has attempted to undermine the Supreme Leader at every turn, reportedly dismissing the advice of his mentor, the influential religious figure Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi. He has also reportedly been taunting the Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is clearly verboten. DEBKA adds background and additional details:
Now they are all gunning for him, using as their political bludgeon allegations of financial corruption. But Ahmadinejad has not been put off. Although he sees his undoing written large on the wall, at every opportunity, before even small audiences of 300-400 people, he continues to maintain that the only way the country can save itself is by forcing the redistribution of national wealth.
Our sources in Tehran say that many of his associates have already taken the precaution of removing themselves to safety in the United States or Europe; others are keeping their heads down or knocking on the president’s door to wangle foreign postings so long as he has the clout to disburse them. One such prominent figure is Hamid Baqa’I, the president’s deputy for executive affairs. In two months, he is due to take up the post of Iranian ambassador to UN institutions in Geneva and New York, in place of the incumbent Mohammad Khaza’i.
Ahmadinejad is going through the motions of promoting his close aide Esfandyar Rahim Masha’I, who is also the father of his daughter-in-law, as presidential contender in June. But he knows it is a lost case. Masha’i is also likely to end up at a foreign posting with his family, when his candidacy is disqualified by the Guardian Council of the Constitution which is under Khamenei’s thumb. ...Foreign appointments also appear to be in the works for some other members of Ahmadinejad’s inner circle, such as Seyyed Hossein Moussavi, Malek-Zadeh and others.
But not all his hangers-on are getting a sympathetic hearing. Our sources in Tehran have learned that the president lost patience this week when a bunch of his cronies confronted him with demands for cushy overseas appointments. He threatened instead to fire some of them Under heavy criticism for mismanaging the Iranian economy, he may use the opportunity to assign the blame to his less favorite advisers, sweep them out and replace them with new faces. One of the most prominent heads on the block may be First Vice President and de facto prime minister Mohammad Reza Rahimi.
So, who is Rahimi? Well, for starters, he is an equal if not greater anti-Semite than his benefactor, having promoted international outrage with a string of vitriolic, anti-Semitic remarks in he which accused Jews of “spreading narcotics around the world in accordance with the teachings of the Talmud … whose objective is the destruction of the world.”
Ahmadinejad reportedly believes the key to his and his cronies' survival is via blackmail. Thus, the Iranian president is hooking his star to a set of secret dossiers on 300 top Iranian officials, each containing details of their respective transgressions. DEBKA explains the significance:
He obtained them by rifling the archives of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security during the brief period after he sacked the intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi, and before Khamenei forced him to reinstate the minister a week later. [...] He and his staff had meanwhile combed through the incriminating files and made copies of them which were now held safe in the presidential office.
Khamenei, who has the support of the bulk of Iran’s political and military leaders, knows all about Ahmadinejad’s plans and is determined to eliminate him one way or another and make sure that the 300 dossiers never leave the president’s office.
More than once, Ahmadinejad has implied recently that he would make their contents public if he or members of his clique were charged with corruption or the misappropriation of state funds. For now, he is weeding out of his administration the officials he regards as its Achilles heels – according to our sources, the first scheduled to go are Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi and Interior Minister Mohammad Mostafa Najjar.
But the financially corrupt Oil Minister is far from the only one drawing Ahmadinejad's ire. Last week he reportedly fired Health Minister Marzieh Wahid Dastjerdi for quipping that Ahmadinejad would rather set aside earmarks for importing dog food than for medicine.
But is Ahmadinejad really on a crusade to help Iran's disenfranchised or is it merely his ego that has grown out of proportion? According to the report, well-respected parliamentary leader Esma’il Kovsari has told the Iranian president to keep his mouth shut and remember that it was Revolutionary Guards who helped propel him to power in the first place. Other's share the same view as Kovsari. Khamenei supporter Al Sa’idi said that most of the regime's leaders now regret bringing Ahmadinejad to power because he has changed.
While at first it may seem good news that the Iranian regime's internal power engine seems to be splintering, it still does naught to thwart the country's sinister nuclear ambitions, its plans to decimate Israel, nor rule the Iranian populace with an authoritarian fist.
It also bears mention that the void created by Ahmadinejad's potential departure will only be filled by an even more radical element within the regime.