Moslehi’s Return Amid Khamenei and Ahmadinejad’s Silence
Heydar Moslehi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s fired and then re-installed Minister of Intelligence appeared at his job on Sunday and participated in the dismissal of one of his deputies. Fars news agency reports that deputy minister for coordination Hossein Abdollahi had been dismissed a few days earlier. In a turnabout, hardline Kayhan newspaper has recently written several stories harshly criticizing Ahmadinejad’s team and accused it of setting the stage for confronting supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei. It also revealed that after the dismissal of the intelligence deputy minister, who had been close to Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff Rahim Mashai, Ahmadinejad had summoned the minister of intelligence and got his resignation, making an immediate announcement to the cabinet. Officially, neither Ahmadinejad nor Khamenei have as yet announced their position on the reinstatement of the “resigned and re-instated” intelligence minister.
News sites affiliated with Ahmadinejad’s administration, such as Alef, Jahan and even Raja News, contend that Abdollahi’s dismissal was the principal cause for the resignation of intelligence minister Moslehi. According to these sites, Abdollahi was a close associate of Mashai who had been appointed with his direct intervention.
The storm over the intelligence minister comes amid the fact that the only official document indicating the order of the supreme leader is an SMS text message sent from ayatollah Khamenei’s office. The text reads, “Following the rejection of the removal of hojjat ol-Islam Moslehi from the ministry of intelligence by the leader of the revolution, he has been re-instated at the ministry.”
Alef website had reported earlier that the minister of intelligence had been forced to resign “on pressure from the presidential office” because he had dismissed one of his deputies who was “the representative of Mashai and the derailed group.”
Regarding Ahmadinejad’s decision to remove Moslehi and ayatollah Khamenei’s opposition to this, Alef had reported, “This change did not sit well with the controversial individual (i.e., Mashai) of the administration, which resulted in the removal of Moslehi.”
Azadegan website wrote in the same light. “After the removal of Abdollahi, Moslehi whose differences with Ahmadinejad and Mashai have recently heightened resigned as to prevent being subjected to what the former minister of the interior Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi faced.
Other principlist news sites that support the administration, such as Tabnak and Raja News wrote, before the announcement of the minister of intelligence, that Mashai had been critical of the “intelligence and communications” agencies in the Islamic republic.
The government’s website two days ago published an interview in which Mashai had said that, “Our responsible agencies must immediately make up for their intelligence and communication shortcomings regarding regional development.” He continued, “Not having accurate and detailed information and analysis for every country and the relationship between the developments and the larger plans of the imperialists would lead us to wrong postures and decisions.”
Iran’s ministry of intelligence has seen extensive changes at the deputy minister levels in the last two years. The removal of domestic intelligence deputy and the technical intelligence deputy were carried out on the direct orders of the former vice president. Then too the minister of intelligence - Mohsen Ejei - had raised his objections which finally resulted in his own removal.
Following the “resignation” and subsequent re-installment of the intelligence minister late last week, principlist media that generally support the current administration displayed an unusual degree of attacks against each other. IRNA, Iran’s official news agency, accused “Some domestic news agencies to be under the influence of special political groups for not publishing the resignation of Heydar Moslehi and its acceptance by the president and then presented unsubstantiated claims that the supreme leader had opposed Mohseni’s resignation.” On Sunday evening, IRNA pointed to the absence of any statement from the leader’s office to be a sign that ayatollah Khamenei had not in fact opposed the resignation of intelligence minister Heydar Moslehi. This news agency promised in an editorial to announce the names of those who were responsible for behind the scenes for such claims.
This posture by IRNA brought forth reactions by other principlist news sites. Tabnak, for example which is close to former IRGC commander and current secretary of the State Expediency Council, wrote that while all media knew that the views of the leader had to be communicated through official channels, but at the same time because of the importance of speed in today’s communications also realized that “waiting for a written order (from the leader’s office) is only an excuse.”
In a separate piece the managing editor of IRNA, Ali-Akbar Roshanfekr, who is also the president’s media advisor, published a piece on his own personal website in which he accused the “lying and hardline” media of fabricating news to show ayatollah Khamenei’s opposition to changing the minister of intelligence. He accused the media of launching a new scenario against the administration to pin the president against the supreme leader. In his piece, he also wrote that it was not possible to change the minister of intelligence without first coordinating this with the supreme leader. “It does not make any sense to believe that a presidential decision is rejected by the supreme leader in a matter of two hours, as this not only weakens the office of the president but also that of the supreme leader. In an earlier controversial episode regarding Mashai, Javanfekr had written that ayatollah Khamenei’s order for the removal of Mashai was “a moral order”, meaning that the president had the right not to act on it.
Jahan news site belonging to principlist and hardline MP Alireza Zakami criticized Javanfekr on this. He then asked, “Should the president not dismiss this person immediately (meaning Javanfekr)?”
Raja News was another official news site that defended the re-instatement of the intelligence minister saying that he had been one of the most accomplished and successful ministers.
Websites supporting ayatollah Khamenei requested that the president review his positions on the hasty firing and hirings in the cabinet. Ismail Kowsari, a principlist MP in Iran’s parliament said that Ahmadinejad had acted hastily in the removal of intelligence minister Moslehi and that the leader’s intervention in this was because of the latter’s sense of responsibility.
Parviz Soroori, the head of the Majlis domestic national security said it was wrong to remove the minister at this sensitive time when the US continued to act mischievously and worked to bring a crisis into Iran.
Mohammad Nabi Habibi, the head of the influential Motalefe party (Hezbe Motalefe Islami) also said the president had to be more thoughtful in his hirings and firings. Former culture minister Gholam-Hossein Saffar Harandi went further and said that while the removal of Moslehi was a hasty act, one should always be watchful of those elements inside the administration who hold sensitive positions, an indirect reference to Mashai.
One of the most notable responses came from general Naghdi of the Basij militia force, which he claims “does not engage in politics but remains under the command of the supreme leader.” Another interesting piece came from senior ayatollah Khazaali’s son, Mehdi Khazaali, a physician blogger who is a known government critic with his own shady activities when he wrote, “ I see the day when Ahmadinejad too will confront the supreme leader and will stab him from behind.”
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