Roozonline – While protests against last year’s presidential elections have created divisions between the government and protesters, and as political forces have reorganized themselves along new fault lines, news reports point to increasing divisions among the Principalists, the ideologue group that is in power. In the latest incident of this sort, Morteza Nabavi, the editor-in-chief of the conservative Resalat daily, warned against the “emergence of a deviant faction within the Principalists” that support Ahmadinejad, and other Principalist group that strives to turn Ahmadinejad into a “Putin” [a reference to the former Russian President who after two presidential terms openly supported Dmitry Medvedev to succeed him and then assumed the position of Prime Minister himself].
Concern about Ahmadinejad’s supporters is not a new phenomenon. Much discussion existed about him and his supporters since his first days in office in 2005. The most important discussions revolved around ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, one of Ahmadinejad’s most important supporters and his spiritual god father, who has been often accused of vying for more power (especially since Mesbah Yazdi ran for a seat in the Assembly of Experts in 2006 on a separate slate.) Mesbah Yazdi’s power has been on the rise ever since.
Perhaps that’s why a Principalist blogger writes, “Mesbah is the behind-the-scenes threat against ayatollah Khamenei. The supreme leader has been gradually moving toward the respectful dismissal of Ahmadinejad while at the same time not wanting to leave the field entirely to Ahmadinejad and Mesbah by fully eliminating the Greens. Ahmadinejad kissed Mr. Khamenei’s hands in 2005 but not in 2009, an indication of the direction in their relations. Publications like Ansar News refer to Mesbah as ‘Imam Mesbah,’ and lately claimed, that ‘serving Mesbah is serving the hidden Imam.’ Visit the Ansar News website and read it yourselves.”
Characterizing the “Green Movement” as a side distraction, the blogger continues, “While pure and clean Basij forces and supporters of the supreme leader are spending their energy to fight the conspiracy leaders [a reference to Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Karoubi], Imam’s family and even grand ayatollahs, ayatollah Mesbah is targeting the supreme leader’s last remaining sources of power in an effort to capture the post and we are focusing all our efforts to suppress the so-called green students. One by one, Mesbah first took Hashemi Rafsanjani away from the supreme leader, then the Imam’s family, then the three conspiracy leaders, who, like it or not, are strong personalities in the regime, and recently weakened the Majlis while pretending to defend the supreme leader. The Basiji youth must be careful. Mesbah is occupying Mr. Khamenei’s post.”
The Principalists are already worried about the eleventh presidential election in 2013, in which Ahmadinejad does not qualify to run for a third term. Amir Mohebian, an editor of Resalat daily and a right wing strategist, wrote, “It is possible that Mr. Ahmadinejad would assume a more influential role in the upcoming presidential election and even before that, in the Majlis election. It is even possible that the Putin model is chosen, meaning that Mr. Ahmadinejad would bring forward a candidate close to himself as the next president.”