Iran’s Khamenei aiming to remove rival first-generation leaders

June 18th, 2009 - 5:02 pm ICT by ANI  

Istanbul (Turkey), June 18 (ANI): Even as a power struggle is on in Iran between supporters loyal to incumbent President Mohammad Ahmadinejad and supporters of his political rival Mir Hossein Mousavi, the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, is aiming to remove rival first-generation leaders - some of the original leaders of the revolution.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a second-generation leader, is, according to analysts, turning out to be a useful ally in this effort.

According to the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), Iranian security forces continue to arrest key opposition figures as pressure mounts from his camp for a revote.

So far, 32 people have died in the violence, with more reported dead outside the capital, claims The Association of Human Rights Activists in Iran.

Among those arrested Wednesday were prominent reform strategist Said Hajjarian, former vice president Ali Abtahi, former foreign minister Ibrahim Yazdi, and prominent critic and editor Saeed Laylaz - adding to the scores of key Mousavi supporters already detained.

On the other side, the anti-Ahmadinejad camp - motivated by dislike for the president’s abrasive style, that they believe has damaged Iran’s standing abroad - is striving to topple Ahmadinejad and preserve their own influence, and sometimes wealth, in Iran’s opaque system of rule.

“Now we are entering the purge phase [of the revolution],” says a Western-educated analyst in Tehran.

“So the [Supreme] Leader wants to eliminate all the first-generation revolutionaries. Ahmadinejad is a very effective representative to attack the credibility of these leaders,” he added.In the mud-slinging presidential debates, Ahmadinejad made unprecedented public accusations of corruption and incompetence against his rivals - including the rich former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, whom he beat in the last presidential election four years ago.”Everyone was a loser,” says the analyst. “They were all discredited.”

Rafsanjani, a pillar of the regime since the 1979 Islamic revolution who heavily financed the Mousavi candidacy, chairs the 86-member Assembly of Experts that in theory has the power to remove the Supreme Leader.

Numerous news reports indicate that Rafsanjani is trying to call the assembly into emergency session.

The power play is taking place among the ruling elite, with all players committed to the Islamic system. Yet hard-line President Ahmadinejad hails from a second-generation of ideologically driven leaders.

Shaped by the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, they have brought the Revolutionary Guards and ideological basiji militia into government like never before - resulting in a deliberate “securitization” of Iranian society.

With them are a number of arch conservative clerics.

Mousavi, a former prime minister in the 1980s who clashed frequently with Khamenei - who was then president - is joined in the anti-Ahmadinejad camp by former president Mohamad Khatami. With them are also the two presidential candidates who were given a paltry number of votes, former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi and war-time Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaie.

Indeed, analysts say Iran’s top leader is in a dilemma, thanks to his strikingly quick confirmation of the Ahmadinejad victory - and, many protesters believe, his role engineering of the result. Just days before the vote, Rafsanjani warned Khamenei in an open letter to take “serious action” against Ahmadinejad and his accusations, or risk “fire … flaring during and after the election.”

“This is a very fluid, unpredictable, improvised moment, and I don’t know where it’s going to go, but I [do] know some people have to pay for this; we just don’t know who,” says Farideh Farhi, an expert on Iranian politics at the University of Hawaii. (ANI)

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