Why Ahmadinejad is dismissing high-level Iranian officials
Many critics say a number of personnel changes by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have to do with the growing influence of one of his closest aides, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei.
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“All the conflicts that existed have moved inside that smaller circle [and] as this circle has become smaller, the intensity of conflict has intensified and become more vicious,” she adds.Skip to next paragraph
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Consolidation of power
Since first assuming the presidency in 2005, Ahmadinejad has raised eyebrows with his rapid-fire changes of ministers, whom he praised as pious and effective during confirmation hearings, only to later axe them as incompetent.
The president says it is his right and duty to change members of his cabinet “team,” like a sports coach. But the recent sackings have sent further waves of surprise through Iran’s conservative elite. After five years in the post, Mr. Mottaki says he was not informed in advance of his dismissal, which was made while he was on an official trip to Senegal to deliver a presidential message.
Kayhan on Tuesday complained that a “bad circle” of advisers around Ahmadinejad led him to abruptly fire Mottaki. Ahmadinejad dismissed all criticism on Thursday in Istanbul, Turkey, saying it was a “little problem,” and that Mottaki was “quoted very badly” when he claimed he had not been forewarned.
Still, a leading parliamentarian has criticized Ahmadinejad’s “tribal management of affairs” with his sackings – among a number of protests by Iranian parliamentarians – and concluded, “Only the wheedlers will be left over,” according to a translation by the EAWorldview Website.
Likewise, a senior ayatollah warned that the president was diluting the pool of faithful ideologues by squeezing out suitable “devotees.”
An ousted loyalist
Among them is Bazrpash, whose youthful patchy black beard has become more full in the five and a half years since Ahmadinejad first plucked him from obscurity as a 20-something university militia leader and tasked him with reforging Iran’s legions of Western-leaning youth.
“With the right tools, we can define what is happiness for the youth…. It’s the job of the state to create and transfer this culture of sacrifice to these youngsters,” Bazrpash told the Monitor in 2005. He had campaigned for Ahmadinejad, though in the presidential office complex where he worked there was little evidence of pen or paper, much less a computer in a country that boasts tens of thousands of Persian-language blogs.
“We are pursuing an advanced … and happy country,” Bazrpash said at the time. “We will introduce the model of happy, young Iranians to the world.”
That wasn’t to be, for he was appointed at the age of 28 – and despite criticism of his inexperience – to be the executive director of a division of the Iranian automaker Pars Khodro, and then its parent company, Saipa.
Two years later in 2009, Ahmadinejad made him vice president for youth affairs, and as head of the National Youth Organization earlier this year Bazrpash launched a website to educate young couples about successful marriage.
Another window on the chaos of the sackings was evident in attempts to name a replacement for Bazrpash. At first, the official IRNA news agency said Farahnaz Torkestani, reportedly a former deputy health minister for student affairs, had accepted the position. But in fact Iranian media reported that she never had taken it and was too ill to do so. A second candidate was named, and on Thursday also refused the post.
IN PICTURES: Iran's Islamic Revolution