Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, whose daughter is married to a son of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is the President’s Chief of Staff. Mr. Mashaei is known for actions that have appalled certain conservative quarters of the Iranian political establishment, such as attending a ceremony in Turkey where women danced and hosting a ceremony in Tehran where women drumming dafs brought out the Qur’an (don’t ask me why this is controversial). He is also known for making such fascinating remarks as the following, according to Etemaad:
- “The age of Islamism is over. It’s not that Islamism doesn’t exist or isn’t growing. Islam exists but its time is up. The age of horseback riding is over now, though horses exist, and so do riders. . . . Of course, it isn’t completely finished, but it’s getting there.”
- “Iran today is a friend of the American and Israeli peoples. No nation in the world is an enemy of Iran, though, of course, we have enemies, in fact, faced with the most dastardly enemies in the world.”
After the controversial 2009 presidential election, the first thing the President of Iran did was to appoint Mr. Mashaei as First Vice President, causing uproar in the aforementioned conservative quarters, which the president initially ignored. Ali Khamenei, the Leader of the Revolution, had to write a letter telling the president to cancel the appointment of Mr. Mashaei, characterizing it as “contrary to your interests as well as the interests of the government.” Eventually, Mr. Mashaei was compelled to resign from the post, after more than a week’s resistance on the part of the president, who then defied the disapproval of the conservative establishment to appoint Mr. Mashaei to his present post.
Mr. Mashaei is apparently incorrigible, however. Here’s his latest bombshell, according to Etemad-e Melli today: “Of the 24 million Ahmadinejad voters, 20 million are critical of the system. These 20 million people are even more critical of the system than the 13 million Mousavi voters, since those 13 million only question the Ahmadinejad administration, whereas these 20 million are saying No to all the past years before Ahmadinejad.”
Iran’s reformist media have assiduously followed Mr. Mashaei’s excellent adventure, a few episodes of which have also been briefly carried by some of the Western media. Both the Western and Iranian-reformist media fail to ask an obvious question, though: is the man who has stood loyally by Mr. Mashaei throughout his wild ideological trip the kind of guy for whom the guardians of the system, lay and clerical, military and civilian, would work in disciplined cooperation to pull off a massive conspiracy for a massively rigged election?