Iran’s Islamist Bloggers Divided over Khamenei vs. Ahmadinejad


It appears from Iranian Islamist blogs that the honeymoon between Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Islamic Republic’s Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is finally over.  Some reject Ahmadinejad in favor of the Supreme Leader while others show unwavering support for Ahmadinejad.

It all started when President Ahmadinejad accepted the resignation of the Iranian Minister of Intelligence, Heydar Moslehi, on April 18, 2011.  Only few hours earlier, Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, Esfandyar Rahim Mashai, had “criticized the intelligence minister without directly naming him,” according to PBS’s Tehran Bureau.  Meanwhile, it was rumored that Khamenei had demanded that the minister should remain in his post.  Several Iranian websites posted a letter from Ali Khamenei on this issue as “proof.”

Ahestan, an Islamist blogger, writes on the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad faceoff:

I don’t know, I am neither an Ahmadinejad supporter [in Persian, supporters of the president call themselves Ahmadinejadi] nor his enemy.  He is just a president with many advantages and disadvantages. . . .  I have learned not to have absolute belief in anybody, especially in the world of politics.

Ahestan considers that Ahmadinejad’s attitude has had a negative impact on the Hezbollah youth in Iran when it comes to following high-ranking clerics.

When Ahmadinejad came to power six years ago we started to breathe again after eight years, or even 16 years.  We owe him that victory and it was for that reason we called ourselves Ahmadinejadi.  But he did not pay attention to the Ulama, high-ranking clerics, and the gap between him and them became wider, despite the Supreme Leader’s advice that respect for the high-ranking clerics is important.  Today, real Ahmadinejadis are suspicious of everything and do not respect the clerics and their opinions.

Another Iranian blogger, Mahtab Tabatabai writes:

What happened that our Imam Khamenei was obliged to write his order as a letter?  Does it mean that nobody listened to him?  God knows how many times during the last seven years Ahmadinejad has not obeyed Khamenei’s in the name of Islam and the regime? . . . Hezbollah should know what the Leader wants, and if Ahmadinejad disobeys, they should act differently with regard to him.

Mashai, Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff was also singled out for criticism. He has previously been a target over the past years, including for comments on Israel and Iran’s history.

Khate Enghelab writes:

Ahmadinejad betrayed our votes. Instead of talking about “Economic Jihad” [that Khamenei urged on the Iranian new year] we talk about Mashai [Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff]. Several ministers were fired because of him. If Ahmadinejad had listened to the Leader and dismissed him, we would not be in this situation at present.

But it seems Ahmadinejad does not stand alone in the cyberworld.  In a letter published on Aeennews, a pro-Ahmadinejad website, a group of “bloggers and journalists from Fars province” declare their support for the Iranian president.  They hail him as a “true supporter of the oppressed” and threaten to destroy all his enemies.

Hamid Tehrani is a blogger, journalist, and researcher based in Europe.  This article was first published in Global Voices on 28 April 2011 under a Creative Commons license.  Cf. <>.  Cf. Henry Newman, “Will Iran Get a Female President?” (Guardian, 15 May 2009); “Mahmoud & Esfandiar’s Excellent Adventure” (MRZine, 13 August 2009); Jamsheed K. Choksy, “Ahmadinejad Bucks Religious Establishment” (Newsweek, 11 February 2010); “Mashaei Rocks the Haus” (MRZine, 23 March 2010); Golnaz Esfandiari, “Iran: Ahmadinejad Says No One Has Any Right to Bother Women about Hijab or Couples about Their Relationship” (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 16 June 2010); “Chronology of Controversy: Who is Esfandiar Mashaei?” (Iranian Diplomacy, 30 November 2010 ); Farhad Pouladi, “Iran Govt Opposes Panahi’s Sentence: Top Official” (AFP, 18 January 2011); Yoshie Furuhashi, “Iran: Hard-Line Women Heckle Mashaei” (MRZine, 12 February 2011); Ali Alfoneh, “Ahmadinejad’s Divine Successor” (The American, 11 April 2011); Tehran Times Political Desk, “Mashaei to Run for President of Iran? ‘Ask Me Six Months before Election'” (17 April 2011); Laurent Maillard, “Iran MPs ‘Urge Ahmadinejad to End Boycott'” (AFP, 30 April 2011).


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