1930 GMT: Close to Impeachment? Really? This morning (see 0609 GMT) we noted a Wall Street Journal story about the growing dispute between Parliament and President, commending it for noting the conflict but calling it "exaggerated". Here are the dramatic paragraphs:
Iran's parliament revealed it planned to impeach President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but refrained under orders from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, exposing a deepening division within the regime....
Conservative newspapers reported on Monday that lawmakers have started a motion to collect the 74 signatures needed to openly debate impeachment. Mousa Reza Servati, the head of the parliament's budgetary committee, was quoted as saying 40 lawmakers, including Mr. Servati, have signed the motion.
The move to remove the president from office marks the first time in the history of the Islamic Republic that parliament has discussed impeachment of a president. Though the legislature is backed by the Iranian constitution, lawmakers can't drive Mr. Ahmadinejad from office without the supreme leader's agreement.
Here is how EA reported the story on Monday: "About 40 lawmakers have signed a petition, sponsored by Ali Motahari, Alireza Zakani, Tavakoli, and Elyas Naderan to summon Ahmadinejad to the Majlis. At least 74 signatures are necessary for the President to be commanded to appear."
Note the important difference in emphasis. Summoning the President to answer questions in Parliament is not debate of impeachment. Instead, if Ahmadinejad's answers are not satisfactory, then the Parliament can take further action, asking him for better responses. If those are still not suitable, then impeachment may be an option.
That is a long way from the showdown portrayed in the Wall Street Journal. And it certainly does not mean that the Supreme Leader has intervened to block the President's removal.