Iran's Power Shakedown Before the Presidential Election

This post is part of our International Relations & Security coverage.

Head of the Judiciary Sadegh Larijani and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Via (used with permission)

On October 22, 2012 President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote an unprecedented open letter to Iran's judiciary accusing them of unconstitutional conduct for barring him from visiting the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran where his media adviser Ali Akbar Javanfekr is currently jailed.

In the letter, Ahamdinejad sugguests that there was a “top secret” communique dispatched by the head of the judiciary, Sadegh Larijani that said the president's request to visit Evin was not in the best interests of the country. Ahmadinejad claims he wishes to investigate the conditions of prisoners.

This climate of intense factional conflict has sparked a number of debates with Iran’s Netizens and civil society.Several opposition sites and journalists, for example, consider that Ahmadienjad’s letter has nothing to do with justice or human rights, but is a sign of his weakened position ahead of the next presidential elections in 2013.

Iran Green Voice argues [fa] that it is merely a conflict between different factions of the regime before the election. Ahmadinejad's former allies have now become his enemies, and are increasing the pressure on him.

Nooshabe Amiri, a Europe-based journalist, says on Roozonline [fa] that it is “a war between wolves” and that Ahmadinejad himself is a symbol of the violated rights of Iranians.

Azarak thinks Ahmadienajd is a lame duck president [fa] who his grasping for sympathy and support in his final months of presidency while his rivals within the regime, such as Larijani, refuse to give him a break. The blogger outlines the following analysis about what his happening:

1- The authorities do not want to give him any opportunity in the final months of his presidency to use sensitive issues, such as the treatment of political prisoners, to ingratiate himself with the people.

2- The situation in the prisons are so bad that even the regime’s president should not know them and use them as a winning card against his opponents.

3- Ahmadinejad wants to show to his supporters that their fate is important to him, but that the judiciary does not want to give him this opportunity.

4- It is a game where the regime tries to create a sense of internal opposition, to give people the choice between bad and worse in the future. The regime’s intelligence services and think tanks are working on such a scenario.

Arman writes [fa]:

 Ahmadinejad’s letter to Larijani, the head of the judiciary, is a declaration of war against the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. The head of the judiciary does not drink a glass of water without first seeking the permission of Ayatollah Khamenei, he is really submissive to Khamenei’s will.

Without a doubt, the reason Larijani’s letter to Ahamdinjead was dispatched as “a top secret communiqué” was to let Ahmadinejad know Khamenei’s opinion.

But Ahmadinejad did not take this into consideration and criticized the letter with harsh words.

In a cartoon published on Mardomak and in Iranian social media, Mana Neyestani, shows Ahmadinejad hiding in a bush calling his press adviser, saying “Hey Javanfekr, are you alright? It's me, Mahmoud.”

Cartoon by Mana Neyestani on Mardomak (used with permission)

Moeni, a blogger based in Iran who makes frequent use of metaphors when discussing politics, says [fa] Ahmadnejad’s letter is strange and bad… “even if we do not question Ahmadinejad's honesty, who only now thought about visiting the prison a few months before the end of his term, such a letter is only for “excitement” and overshadows the “horizon” [the overall political situation].”

ISN logoThis post and its translations to Spanish, Arabic and French were commissioned by the International Security Network (ISN) as part of a partnership to seek out citizen voices on international relations and security issues worldwide. This post was first published on the ISN blog, see similar stories here.

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