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Iran Analysis: Supreme Leader's Son Turns Against Ahmadinejad? --- What We Really Know

We note a sensational claim from Muhammad Sahimi at Tehran Bureau of a "crucial shift of sentiment by the Supreme Leader's son" --- Mojtaba Khamenei has supposed turned against President Ahmadinejad.

The problem with the claim, at least in this article, is the limited support for it. Sahimi's sole source for the assertion that the younger Khamenei "is now pressuring his father to allow the Majles to go forward with Ahmadinejad's impeachment" is an interview with former President Abolhassan Bani Sadr, exiled in Paris, who cites a source in Iran.

So what do we know?

Well, EA can add from its own sources in Iran that there are suspicions that Mojtaba has been in discussions with the camp of Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, both in preparation for the 2012 Parliamentary elections and for Qalibaf's possible run for President in 2013. 

That echoes Sahimi's account, in the opening paragraph of his article, of a letter written by Mehdi Karroubi to the Supreme Leader just after the 2005 election which put Ahmadinejad in the Presidency. In the letter, Karroubi writes of "reports that [Khamenei's] respected son --- Mr Seyyed Mojtaba --- has supported one of the candidates [Ahmadinejad]" after "reports about his support for another candidate [Qalibaf], whose star suddenly dimmed three days before the elections".

We know that pro-Ahmadinejad media think something is up. One site called two weeks ago for "sons of the agha [noble persons]" to be held accountable for their actions.

We have reports that the Supreme Leader, amidst the escalating political conflict, has called for the formation of a committee to investigate the behaviour of the President's advisors. At the same, Ayatollah Khamenei has called for all sides --- including the Revolutionary Guards' leadership, who are close to open verbal warfare with Ahmadinejad --- to back away from their public claims.

So have Ayatollah Khamenei and his son turned against the President to the point where they are supporting his impeachment? Probably not --- the blunt political fact at this point is the lack of a replacement, even Qalibaf, to step immediately into the Presidency. (Further testimony comes this morning, as MP Ali Motahari, the leader of the campaign to interrogate and possible impeach Ahmadinejad, confirms that Ayatollah Khamenei halted the move.)

At the same time, however, the Supreme Leader is trying to contain the Ahmadinejad camp, restricting the President's attempts to claim more authority and (quietly) supporting the campaign against Ahmadinejad's controversial advisors.

So, even if the rumours about Mojtaba are not true, they serve a purpose: best keep Ahmadinejad, who is still a capable and dangerous politician, on the defensive.

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    EA WorldView - Home - Iran Analysis: Supreme Leader's Son Turns Against Ahmadinejad? --- What We Really Know
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