Source: Mehr News Agency, Tehran
In a decree issued on Sunday President Ahmadinejad appointed Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei as his special envoy for the Middle East affairs. The move came despite widespread criticism against Mashaei for his controversial remarks about the Iranian and Islamic ideology.
Apart from being the president's chief of staff, Mashaei holds a number of key
positions in the sitting cabinet. He is the vice president in the high council
of the Iranians abroad, the secretary of the administration's cultural
committee, the chairman of the administration's working group on pilgrimage and
He is also director of the coordination council for special economic zones as well as a member of the administration's economic commission.
The president also appointed Hamid Baghaei, Mehdi Akhoundzadeh, and Abolfazl Zohrevand respectively as his special envoys in Asian, Caspian, and Afghanistan affairs.
President's New 'Religious-Nationalism' Alienates Hard-Line Constituency
Amid a deepening split within the Islamic system's "principlist" conservative faction, the combative president has begun stressing nationalistic Iranian themes in what some observers characterize as an attempt to carve out a new political constituency amongst nonpolitical types who neither identify with religion nor the pro-reform Green Movement.
Ahamdinejad likened to extremist group by conservative Iranian MP
Ali Motahari described Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his supporters as a group that "believes in an independent interpretation of Islam and do not subscribe to the clergy and sources of emulation."
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