By Selim Celal
The Turkey-based writer is an expert on Iran’s foreign policy and domestic politics.
On Feb. 14, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his boldest statement ever about Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Having been denied entry into the trial session of his close ally Hamid Baqaa’ee, he stood on the stairs at the entrance of the court, and in a desperate tone, stated that even the Supreme Leader was "wriggling out of the responsibility" for misuse of power by the judiciary.
Ahmadinejad’s quarrel with the Supreme Leader over the judiciary is not something new. Earlier,
We can trace Ahmadinejad’s statement about the Supreme Leader in the latter’s personality. Unlike his predecessor, the current Supreme Leader is very good at taking credit without sharing responsibility. While Ayatollah Khomeini was brave enough to accept the responsibility
However, one needs to delve into the questions of how far Ahmadinejad would be allowed to continue along this path and to what extent he can keep on criticizing and accusing Khamenei so openly and blatantly? To answer these questions, one would need to have a clear understanding of the ongoing political discourse in Iran, the alignment of the political forces as well as the socio-political dynamics of this country.
Ahmadinejad belongs to the conservative camp, which is itself a minority among the Iranian masses. As a result, Ahmadinejad’s current is a “minority within a minority”. To put things into a clearer perspective, the camp from which he can draw supporters is the very camp of hardliners that
In addition to that, as is the case with the political culture of most third-world countries, the phenomenon of personality cult plays an important role in Iran; and Ahmadinejad does not have this privilege. Iranians widely refer to him as “Comedy-
As far as Ahmadinejad is concerned, he is not offering any proper dialogue, or at least, a marketable one. He starts his every speech with a long prayer for the reappearance of Mahdi, the twelfth Shia
It is also necessary to note that only one specific version of
Furthermore, it is not easy for a politician in Iran to rise to power for
Although Ahmadinejad employs a language that most others would strictly avoid, he must be seriously deluded if he is defining himself as the leader of the opposition forces. Iranians will not forget that while they were on the streets for several days about two months ago, Ahmadinejad effectively went into hibernation, and until now, he has not made even a single comment about the popular uprising, the most widespread national protest in the history of the Islamic Republic.
That said, Ahmadinejad now seems to be using his last bullets. He will probably not be able to go any further, though he may give a few more similar statements. But such statements would not have any substantial bearing. So far his statements have created media waves, but have failed to generate any real social following. His recent statement can also be seen in this context. It may help him consolidate his position within his own close circle, but the general Iranian psyche is that one must first be victimized by the system, and only then would people start believing in him.
On the other hand, had Ahmadinejad’s words made any social impact, he would have been placed under house arrest long ago. In a political system where such a polite character as Muhammad Khatami has been banned from appearing in public, the free galloping of Ahmadinejad suggests that the establishment knows very well that he cannot pose any serious threat. Perhaps that is why the establishment does not want to make any effective effort to stop
Commenting on Ahmadinejad’s statement on Nov. 28, Mohseni Ezhe’ee, the Iranian judiciary’s spokesperson, said: “A crook, who was not getting any attention, came to the city’s main square once and started vilifying others. Some people gathered around him. A wise man who was passing by said: this individual is doing so only to get attention, and if you people watch him, his intention will be fulfilled.”
In fact, what is painful for Ahmadinejad is that despite his straightforward language, he is not getting any attention either from the general public or from the establishment. Nevertheless, a free and helpful piece of advice to Ahmadinejad is that he should stop defending his eight-year presidency, and instead, he should engage in some self-criticism. Most importantly, he should open the black box of the controversial presidential election of 2009, and explain what happened during the election, the way it was manipulated, as well as the organs involved in the manipulation and the subsequent crackdown of the post-election rioters. Only then he might perhaps attract people. Doing anything short of that, he will remain who he already is: someone with personal grievances with no significant social impact.
*Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.