Khamene’i to Ahmadinejad: “Let’s Be Friends”

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on May 29, 2011

And by “let’s be friends,” Khamene’i means “do things my way, or else”:

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, endorsed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Sunday as Khamenei looked to resolve a months-long rift among the country’s conservative power elite.

“While there are weaknesses and problems … the composition of the executive branch is good and appropriate, and the government is working. The government and parliament must help each other,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in an address to parliament members, later shown on state television.

The pronouncement by the country’s most powerful figure has followed a period of turbulence between him and his onetime political favorite.

At its heart is a possible future struggle for power between the firebrand president and Khamenei’s conservative clergy, who are wary of Ahmadinejad’s messianic strain of Islam and his incendiary populism. They worry his tendency for explosive talk could threaten their long-term interests, if not render them obsolete.

The broadcast of portions of Khamenei’s speech seemed designed to settle the crisis, but it also laid down a strict warning for Iran’s president about not overstepping his boundaries. “When the law is passed, the government must implement it with full power and without any excuse,” Khamenei, said.

Of course, there remain plenty of ways for Ahmadinejad to create mischief for Khamene’i, and other hardline mullahs. I hope and expect that he will continue to do so; given that the hardliners backed Ahmadinejad for his supposed ability to cause problems for Israel and the West, it is only just that they will have to suffer headaches at his hands.

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