As mentioned before on this blog, it is clear that the initial round of infighting between Ali Khamene’i and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been resolved in Khamene’i's favor. Ahmadinejad is already a lame duck, given that there will be new presidential elections in a mere two years. His lame duck status is especially pronounced, however, thanks to his utter defeat at the hands of Khamene’i.
Ahmadinejad has done the smart thing, and has backed down–for now. But there likely will be further battles thanks to Ahmadinejad’s loyalty to his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei:
Mashaei is a hot button on both sides. He is despised by hard-liners for his views that elevate the values of pre-Islamic Persia and statements suggesting Iran can oppose Israel’s government but can be friendly with the Israeli people. Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, is fully vested in Mashaei as a member of his inner circle. Mashaei’s daughter is also married to Ahmadinejad’s son.
As I have written before, I am rooting for injuries on both sides. I hope that divisions in the regime are sufficient to give reformists an opening with which they can dramatically liberalize Iranian politics and society. The regime understands that the potential is there for the reform movement to exploit fissures; that is why Khamene’i and his allies are moving so fast to put Ahmadinejad in his place, and to prevent the emergence of any further challenges to regime authority.