Iran turmoil takes new twist as hardliners fall out

Alistair Lyon
Reuters
Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Iran’s hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has chosen a strange moment to cross swords with his chief patron, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

As if widespread popular unrest and the wrath of reformists over a disputed election were not enough, Ahmadinejad has alienated some of his own allies and lost two hardline cabinet members by defying Khamenei over his choice of vice president. The disarray in the hardline camp is likely to complicate Ahmadinejad’s job of forming a new cabinet, risking prolonged paralysis in decision-making even as a Western deadline looms for Iran to enter substantive talks on its nuclear programme.

Ahmadinejad, due to be sworn in by parliament next week, is already under fire from his moderate rivals, Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, who say any new cabinet will be illegitimate as the June 12 poll was rigged — a charge the authorities deny.

Part of Iran’s influential Shi’ite clerical establishment based in the shrine city of Qom has also signalled misgivings over the aftermath of the poll, which has plunged Iran into its worst internal upheaval since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Full article here

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