August 31, 2010 – While several senior Islamic Republic officials have emphasized the “necessity of unity in recent days, one of Ahmadinejad’s aides yesterday announced that the chief executive did not wish to participate in the Expediency Council sessions, despite ayatollah Khamenei’s request for Ahmadinejad do to so. Meanwhile, seyed Hassan Khomeini, who was recently widely criticized by green movement supporters for speaking to Ahmadinejad at a state function, refused to attend a gathering yesterday at the revolutionary founder ayatollah Khomeini’s shrine and did not welcome Ahmadinejad.
Since coming to power, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has not attended any of the Expediency Councils sessions. Recently, he went as far as labeling the Council’s decision to allocate two billion dollars to the Tehran subway project “illegal,” an unprecedented move viewed by experts as a show of opposition to the Council’s chairman, Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Nevertheless, the conservative website Khabar Online reported yesterday on “Ayatollah Khamenei’s desire for Ahmadinejad’s participation in the Expediency Council session.” The website quoted Morteza Nabavi, the editor-in-chief of hardline daily Resalat and a member of the Council as saying, “I am among those who view the president’s participation in the Council as necessary, because the policies that are ratified in the Council are very important and influence the administration’s planning. I think, aside from the fact that this is a legal demand, and that, I as a citizen, and naturally other people, have that demand, the supreme leader also has that demand.”
Domestic media outlets yesterday reported Nabavi’s remarks while Mehdi Kalhor, an advisor to Ahmadinejad, said in a tone that typifies that of other administration officials: “Ahmadinejad doesn’t like to go.”
He told the Mehr news agency, “I was the first person who had asked Ahmadinejad, why would not attend Expediency Council’s meetings. Ahmadinejad told me that he did not like them, to which I told him that he did not have to like them, and then asked him whether he liked every one at the UN when he visited it. I told him that people voted for him and paid his salary and are expecting him to participate in Expediency Council’s sessions.”
Ahmadinejad’s refusal to abide by the “supreme leader’s demand” as expressed by Morteza Nabavi captured the headlines yesterday while seyed Hassan Khomeini, ayatollah Khomeini’s grandson, also refused to attend a gathering at ayatollah Khomeini’s shrine attended by Ahmadinejad.
Domestic news outlets, including ISNA student news agency, briefly reported the cabinet’s attendance at ayatollah Khomeini’s shrine and said that Ahmadinejad was welcomed by seyed Hassan Khomeini’s secretary, Hamid Ansari.
The atmosphere present among the Islamic Republic’s senior leaders and figures, including seyed Hassan Khomeini’s treatment of Ahmadinejad, and his refusal to abide by ayatollah Khamenei’s demand point to the leader’s failure in mending the rifts among the regime’s senior leadership, even on the surface; a failure that renders repeated calls to unity ineffective.