On the verge of Iran’s presidential election in May, tension and a major power struggle between the regime’s factions is becoming more vivid than ever before. The power struggle in the Iranian regime is becoming more apparent, as Khamenei criticizes Rouhani on the economy and Ahmadinejad appears to be targeting the leadership of Iran in his remarks.
“Those who think the people don’t understand are the stupidest people on earth. What kind of monarchy is this, seen in some people… they want 97% of everything. Why are you looking for such possessions? 80 million people don’t understand and you do?” he said.
Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made these remarks on March 22nd in Ahvaz, stirring up a significant amount of tension.
While those close to Ahmadinejad believe his remarks were targeting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, former Revolutionary Guards chief Mohsen Rezaie – currently secretariat of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council – believes Ahmadinejad intended his remarks at Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Rezaie has called on Ahmadinejad to rescind his words, according to the state-run Mehr news agency.
He has also joined Twitter, despite a ban on doing so. The service is blocked for ordinary citizens, but Iran’s top officials tweet regularly, and even the Supreme Leader maintains accounts in several languages.
There are those who say that this is ironic, considering the Twitter ban was put in place after protests against Ahmadinejad’s reelection in 2009.
On September 26th, 2016, Khamenei had made it clear he considers Ahmadinejad’s participation in the presidential election as “improper”. Khamenei has also publicly indicated that any presidential run by Ahmadinejad would not be in the best interests of the country. Under Iranian law, presidents are only allowed two consecutive terms.
While Ahmadinejad is not running in the election, he is also not staying quiet during this election cycle. For example, Ahmadinejad issued a statement expressing his support for the candidacy of Hamid Baghaie.
In the meantime, Nosser Imani, a known figure loyal to Khamenei, said in an interview on Wednesday that Ahmadinejad’s support of Baghaie “is in fact completely against the recommendations made by the Supreme Leader, as it polarizes the election.”
The Guardian Council vets all candidates before any elections in Iran, and has used this power to block many reformists and independents, as well as conservatives, from running in parliamentary and presidential elections.