24 June 2011

Impeaching Ahmadinejad

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameni, has a problem. He wholeheartedly supported incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 presidential election, and now it turns out the flaky Ahmadinejad is being a bad boy. Allies of the president and his chief of staff and close confidant, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, are accused of attempting to undermine the power of the clerics. In recent weeks, at least 25 people close to Ahmadinejad and Mashaei have been arrested.

In April, in a fit of pique over Khameni's intervention in a cabinet appointment, Ahmadinejad abandoned his office for 11 days. Apparently the only reason he returned to work was because he was threatened with impeachment. But that hasn't mitigated the threat. Several members of Iran's parliament have warned Ahmadinejad he still faces impeachment if he insists on supporting Mashaei. Given that all MPs are vetted by Iran's Guardian Council, a body controlled by Khamenei, this would seem to be a clear warning from Khamenei himself.

Khamenei is quite likely employing Parliament to avoid the embarrassment of confronting his former pet in public. Although he would no doubt prefer Ahmadinejad go quietly, all he has to do is pull the trigger and Parliament will impeach. In any case, the romance is over. One way or the other, Ahmadinejad is toast.

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