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Filed under: Iran — Rick Moran @ 11:01 am

This is an interesting development regarding the internal politics of Iran.

Just recently, you may have read that the Iranian parliament had taken the unprecedented step of reducing President Ahmadinejad’s term from 6 4 years to 5 3 by authorizing the next round of parliamentary elections to be held the same year as the next Presidential election. Since the parliamentary elections are to be held in 2008, this cuts more than one year off of Ahmadinejad’s term.

Was it a deliberate slap? One can hardly see it as anything else. The bill has a ways to go yet before it becomes law but with 80% of the legislature supporting the measure, it appears virtually certain to pass the constitutional tests required.

Now we have word that Ahmadinejad may have really stepped in it with his biggest boosters - the most fanatical believers in the Iranian theocracy - by attending the opening ceremonies of The Asian Games in Qatar (no bastion of liberalism itself) and watching women dancing and singing…in public…AND WITHOUT A VEIL!

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who flaunts his ideological fervour, has been accused of undermining Iran’s Islamic revolution after television footage appeared to show him watching a female song and dance show.

The famously austere Mr Ahmadinejad has been criticised by his own allies after attending the lavish opening ceremony of the Asian games in Qatar, a sporting competition involving 13,000 athletes from 39 countries. The ceremony featured Indian and Egyptian dancers and female vocalists. Many were not wearing veils.

Women are forbidden to sing and dance before a male audience under Iran’s Islamic legal code. Officials are expected to excuse themselves from such engagements when abroad but TV pictures showed Mr Ahmadinejad sitting with President Bashar Assad of Syria and Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, during last Friday’s ceremony in Doha.
Religious fundamentalists, usually Mr Ahmadinejad’s keenest supporters, are asking why he attended a ceremony that violated his own government’s strict interpretation of Shia Islam.

The Baztab website, considered close to Mohsen Rezaee, a former revolutionary guard commander with links to powerful sections of Iran’s political hierarchy, said Mr Ahmadinejad’s presence had offended Shias in Iran and elsewhere. “The failure of Ahmadinejad to object and his constant presence has damaged the image of Iran’s Islamic revolution and its commitment to Islamic rules in contrast with the Arab countries in the Gulf,” it said.

The significance of the criticism is its source. Mohsen Rezaee is considered an ally of former President and Ahmadinejad rival Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The former President also chairs the powerful Expediency Discernment Council which advises Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei as well as ironing out differences between parliament and Council of Guardians (although in practice, what the Council of Guardians say is pretty much the law of the land).

Rafsanjani and another former President Mohammad Khatami have formed a loose opposition alliance to try and block some of Ahmadinejad’s more radical moves. They spoke out against his radicalizing the foreign service when Ahmadinejad fired several high level ambassadors and foreign service functionaries only to replace them with people who had little or no experience in foreign affairs. The President has carried out similar purges in other departments as well, each time replacing experienced technocrats with inexperienced fanatics.

Neither Rafsanjani or Khatami should be seen as wanting to do America any favors. Both are as rabid in their hatred of the United States as Ahmadinejad. However, they object to Ahmadinejad’s confrontational style, believing their revolution can advance farther and swifter if they lull the west to sleep by appearing to be reasonable and moderate.

And Rafsanjani, who initiated the Iranian nuclear program back in the early 1990’s when he was President, also fears Ahmadinejad’s anti-corruption campaign. It is an open secret that the former President is one of the richest men in Iran and got that way by stealing the country blind. While it is doubtful that Ahmadinejad would go after his rival in such a direct manner, the President could reel in some of Rafsanjani’s cronies in the ministries who helped him acquire his ill gotten gains.

Then there is the question of some of the assassination attempts on Ahmadinejad - two that we know of - and who might be behind them. Rafsanjani has been whispered as the mastermind but the official line is that separatists set the bombs off.

What does this attack on Ahmadinejad’s behavior really mean? It may help undermine Ahmmadinejad’s support with the powerful Assembly of Experts who will hold their election on December 15th. Getting an anti-Ahmadinejad majority elected to that powerful body would limit Supreme Leader Khamenei’s ability to back the President when he tries to enact his more radical agenda. The Assembly judges the actions of the Supreme Leader to insure that they pass muster with the Koran as well as the Iranian constitution.

The fact that Rafsanjani is running for a seat on the Assembly may have been at the bottom of this attack. Pure speculation, but given the circumstances, a logical deduction.

I find it deliciously ironic that the pious fanatic who constantly lectures others on godliness would be caught not only violating the tenets of Islamism but also lying about the transgression:

The president’s aides insist he was not present during the singing and dancing. His press secretary, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, claimed Mr Ahmadinejad had left for Doha airport before the performance.

However, Baztab posted footage which purported to show Mr Ahmadinejad in his seat after the show. Jalal Yahyazadeh, a rightwing MP, said: “We have heard from some sources that Ahmadinejad was in the stadium at the time. Those who created the conditions for his presence should be investigated as quickly as possible.”

It appears that Ahmadinejad is starting to enjoy his celebrity a wee too much, basking in the glow of the fawning masses who worship him for his tweaking the nose of the United States every chance he gets, lecturing President Bush and the American people, and addressing the United Nations in the manner of a hectoring church elder admonishing the congregation for their lack of morals.

It would be a satisfying turn of events indeed if this incident led to his being taken down a peg or two. I can’t think of anyone who would deserve it more.


Ed Morrissey ruminates on the way Islam treats women:

Is it just me, or does it seem like radical Islamists deeply fear women and their sexuality? Their entire worldview appears focused on the oppression of females — burying them under yards of cloth, denying them any freedom of movement, and avoiding even their singing voices in public. After all of Ahmadinejad’s ludicrous diplomacy and aggressive posturing, having him lose power because of a sporting event’s opening ceremonies is nothing short of surrealistic.

Ahmadinejad will certainly atone for his sins shortly. All it will take is another conference on how beautiful the world will be once Iran removes Israel and the United States from it. The radicals will forgive all in their xenophobic ecstasy.

Note: Thanks to Nikolay for correcting the length of Ahmadinejad’s term.


  1. Hopefully this story will help end the widely mistaken view in the righty blogosphere that the Iranian President is some kind of Krazy (with a Kapital K) future Hitler who will attack us and Israel with Nukes at the first opportunity. It should be apparent now that there are checks and balances and factions in the Iranian political system even if it is fundamentally flawed. Also, few seem to realize that the Iranian President is neither Commander in Chief of the armed forces nor does he have the power to declare war.

    Comment by Andy — 12/5/2006 @ 12:55 pm

  2. On the other hand, while technically under the thumb of the Supreme Leader Khamenei, Ahmadinejad has rebuffed the old guy on more than one occassion, causing Khamenei to ratify some of his more radical pronouncements after the fact.

    Plus, I’ve always felt that Khamenei engineered Ahmadinejad’s victory because he seems perfectly suited for a confrontation at this time with the US and the west. Former head of the Qods Brigade in the Rev Guards, a probable accomplice in the assassination of the dissident in Vienna - the guy has smelled gunpowder and his fanaticism makes him a true believer of unusual magnitude for the leader of any state - much less one that is working to acquire nukes.

    No - there’s something deep between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad - a symbiotic relationship where one enables the other. Khamenei has also been slowly radicalizing the Assembly of Experts and The Guardian Council as well.

    Some of the more shallow analyses may try to paint Ahmadinejad as you say. But there is truth even there. He IS a radical. He IS a fanatic. And he DOES have more leeway than certainly Khatami did and even more than Rafsanjani. Hitler? Maybe not. But don’t underestimate his fanaticism - especially since it really does seem to be tinged with religious fervor.

    I’m not saying he’d launch the second he gets nukes (chances are he’ll be gone by the time the Iranians succeed in building one anyway), but I believe him capable of doing it if he felt the Islamic state was threatened - real or imagined.

    Comment by Rick Moran — 12/5/2006 @ 1:07 pm

  3. [...] Is the outrage genuine? Or is it more like the “outrage” Nancy Pelosi feels when she complains about Republican ethical scandals? The latter, says Rick Moran: The significance of the criticism is its source. Mohsen Rezaee is considered an ally of former President and Ahmadinejad rival Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. He chairs the powerful Expediency Discernment Council which advises Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei as well as ironing out differences between parliament and Council of Guardians (although in practice, what the Council of Guardians say is pretty much the law of the land)… [...]

    Pingback by Hot Air » Blog Archive » Ahmadinejad caught in jihadi version of a strip club — 12/5/2006 @ 3:35 pm

  4. Good points. I didn’t mean to suggest he isn’t a fanatic - certainly he is, but all the 12th Imam theories I constantly see on (other) blogs are overblown. In any event, the larger point that most miss is that Ahmadinejad does not have the authority under the Iranian political system to carry out such grandiose plots.

    Although it’s not certain it’s quite possible that Ahmadinejad was not Khamenei’s first choice for President (Glalibaf supposedly was). Their relationship hasn’t actually been that solid, and Khamenei has come out and corrected some of Ahmadinejad’s more vitriolic statements, though that rarely gets reported in the western press. Additionally, the nuclear program is not run by Ahmadinejad but by Khamenei through the Iranian supreme national security council. In many ways, Ahmadinejad’s statements against Iran and open support to the nuclear program are designed to ensure his domestic popularity considering such decisions and responsibilities to not lie in his office. He’s a savvy politician in that regard.

    Unfortunately for Khamenei, Ahmadinejad’s radicalism is hurting Iran in the international arena. It seems to me this latest move to limit Ahmadinejad’s term may be Khamenei’s effort to ensure that we remember where the real power lies in Iran, especially considering all the talk about us attacking Iran. I personally think that Khamenei is tired of Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric and the problems it continually creates for Iran. Khamenei would rather have the world’s attention focused elsewhere and he definitely does not want Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric to provoke war with the US and/or Israel.

    It’s frankly sad that so many popular blogs do so little to get basic facts straight on important topics. You do a good job here, but so many take what Ahmadinejad says, combine it with ignorance and assumption and then make broad pronouncements about how we HAVE to attack Iran now or we’ll get nuked. The alternative media still has a long way to go.

    Comment by Andy — 12/5/2006 @ 4:07 pm

  5. Typical lying politician……

    Comment by fred fry — 12/5/2006 @ 6:31 pm

  6. “reducing President Ahmadinejad’s term from 6 years to 5″
    It’s actually from 4 years to 2.5. He was elected in August 2005.

    Comment by Nikolay — 12/5/2006 @ 6:56 pm

  7. Nikolay:

    You are correct. I believe that Ahmadinejad will be eligible to run for re-election. Given this episode, it should be interesting to see if the Guardian Council even certifies him as eligible to run.

    Comment by Rick Moran — 12/5/2006 @ 7:01 pm

  8. >andy & rick Interesting commentary! Agreed, it seems to me that the 12th Imam theory has been distributed around till the point where most people tend to believe it’s the gospel truth. Though we are at the brink of deciding whether to employ Syria and Iran as forces of “stability” in Iraq (which we shouldn’t even be considering at all, we are certainly not at the edge of cataclysm. Not yet.

    With the US attempting to figure out how exactly to solve the Iraqi security dilemma while fending off realists like Baker and Gates, the MSM has been having field day after field day obsessing over the “inevitability” of our withdrawal and let the Shiites finish the Sunnis off. Khamenei probably recognises that the spotlight has finally shifted away from the Iranian nuclear crisis - world opinion on that issue has somehow settled into delusional self-comforting intransigence - and thus hopes to keep it that way. Ahmadinejad’s blatant rhetoric would perhaps prove too enticing for the MSM to pass up.

    Comment by harrison — 12/6/2006 @ 8:01 am

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