Center for Strategic Assessment and forecasts

Autonomous non-profit organization

Home / Politics and Geopolitics / / Articles
The resignation of Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei: beyond the veil version
Material posted: Pankratenko Igor N.Publication date: 27-04-2011

Any permutation in the higher echelons of power of the Islamic Republic of Iran generates a lot of rumors and versions. Moreover, the variety of these versions can be the envy of any writer fiction novel, it was too bizarre of a conflict presented in other "scientific experts". Such "analytic Iranian studies" in the face of some of its members are now enriched the folklore, if earlier, in respect of some news reports (citing "a credible and reliable witness") about Iran we said "lying like an eyewitness", in relation to a separate "analytical review" is appropriate to say: "lying like an expert.

Practically, the main version of Russian-language media, explaining the resignation of Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei was the version that the reason for the resignation - in "Pro-Israeli views": "Ahmadi-Nejad dismissed the "Pro-Israeli" chief of office"[1].

The only evidence of this version is the reference to the words spoken Mashaei in 2009 that "the American people and the people of Israel are friends of Iran." And although this quote is taken out of context (no one mentions the clarifications made by Mashaei that "we are opposed to the Zionist regime, not the people" [2]), the legend of Pro-Israel sentiment Mashaei continues to walk in the minds of certain "analysts of Iranian studies". As well, and legends about what the ultimate goal was Mashaei sauce "neoconservatism" to create the conditions for a rematch of liberal ideas in Iran [3].

More detailed comments Western and the Arab media:

"Mashaei was accused of heterodox views on religion, including the role of the clergy, said about the superiority of Iranian cultural values over Islam" [4].

"The outrage of the conservative wing in the ruling elite of Iran called Mashai's attempts to introduce ideology into the existing elements of Iranian nationalism" [5].

"The figure of the Vice-President, slim, beautiful, confident Mashaei, for traditionalists embodied all that they considered unacceptable for themselves in the presidency of Ahmadinejad" [6].

Version of resignation Mashaei because of his liberal views and arising from disloyalty to the spiritual leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was happily caught up in the mass media. Much of this version is quite naturally followed the thesis that the contradictions between Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have reached a critical point. It is not surprising that, taking this thesis as an axiom, then the argument "the words" went in the spirit of "pique vests", governed only by the degree of rabid interest in the timing of the fall of Ahmadinejad. And, of course, was said about the fact that the resignation of Mashai is a sign of the growing influence of "Islamic fundamentalists", and it automatically means "export the Islamic revolution worldwide."

Such conclusion and such are forecasts.

As it happens, the reality is more complicated, more interesting and deeper than the insights of the "scientific experts" virtual institutions in the middle East and other regions. But to understand this requires a closer examination of the events which preceded the resignation. And most importantly, you need to understand how charges Mashaei liberalism, secularism and disloyalty to the spiritual leadership of Iran are groundless.

Of course, Mashaei is one of the most trusted friends and active members of the "neo-conservatives" to rally around the current President of Iran. They met in the early eighties, when Mashaei was an operational intelligence officer of the Islamic revolutionary guard Corps, Ahmadinejad was the leader in Western Azerbaijan. In 1993, when Ahmadinejad was Governor of Ardabil province, he invited Mashaei in his administration. In 2008, Mashaei's daughter married Ahmadinejad's son. Immediately after the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the presidential elections in August 2005, Mashaei was appointed head of the Organization cultural heritage and tourism and one of the twelve Vice presidents of Iran. After re-election to the presidency in July 2009, President Ahmadinejad announced his intention to appoint associate for the office of first Vice President of Iran. This is the highest after the President position in the national Executive. In addition, according to the Iranian Constitution, the first Vice President has an extensive terms of reference and shall replace the President in case of incapacity or illness of the latter. Such close ties have given the reason Western analysts tend to labeling to simplify understanding of the political processes, called Mashaei only as "the gray cardinal" of Ahmadinejad, a man who forms and formulates the course of the Iranian President. This is, perhaps, the only thing you can, with certain reservations, agree with the Western assessment Mashaei (the"grey cardinal" we will leave on conscience of authors of the term).

Liberalism and secularism, in which ultratraditional regularly accuse Mashaei (and Western analysts, these invented accusations excitedly discussing), more than strange and illogical as the belief system for a man who from his youth had participated actively in the revolutionary struggle, and when the Shah's regime as a teenager, he distributed leaflets in which there were calls for Islamic revolution and demands the transfer of power to Ayatollah Khomeini. That's a huge practical experience as organizer and leader of Mashaei, who in November of this year will mark 51 years old, has had a major influence on his Outlook as a policy-neo-conservative, policy of the wave, which came to the heights of power during the presidency of Ahmadinejad.

World history social revolutions, from Cromwell to Lenin, gives a lot of examples when the views of practitioners disagree with the beliefs of theorists. This is not surprising and supernatural. Practices, gear hobbing theory in terms of specific tasks of social construction, here and now, more pragmatic, less inclined to follow the letter of the Teachings, while maintaining an unwavering allegiance to his Spirit.

On this basis, the contradiction between practitioners and theorists of the Islamic revolution is not something that is not unique, and are commonplace in the process of building a new Iran.

From these positions, between the team of Ahmadinejad and the neoconservatives by a team of ultratraditional Larijani is not and cannot be antagonistic contradictions, all conflicts are well within the dialectics of social development, built on new principles.

In fact, the open confrontation between Mashaei and ultratraditional began in 2009. And the reason for this was not the appointment of Mashaei as first Vice President, as is commonly believed [7] and fights at the April session of Parliament, when the discussion focused around the plan of Ahmadinejad's inclusion in the Organization of cultural heritage and tourism Department for the Affairs of Hajj and pilgrimage belonging to the Ministry of culture and Islamic guidance.

The author of the plan was Mashaei, and the plan would affect the interests of the two Ministers - G. H. Mohseni-Ejei (Ministry of information, i.e., intelligence) and M. H. Saffar's-Harandi (Ministry of culture and Islamic guidance). That is, the plan of the Ahmadinejad-Mashaei was concerned with the redistribution of powers within the ruling elite, and to reduce the powers of spiritual entities, considering the activities of these ministries as exclusively their prerogative.

This was the cause of the violent attacks of ultratraditional, grouped around the speaker of Majlis Larijani on Mashaei. A sharp protest to the attempts of the presidential team to carry out the redrawing of powers expressed such "heavyweights" of Iranian politics as personally, Ali Larijani, Ayatollah Yazdi M., second Deputy speaker of Parliament M. H., Aboutorabi-Fard. A little later they were joined by chief of staff H. Firuzabadi.

In the course of this political struggle ultratraditional Mashaei remembered everything and visit them in Turkey in 2007, belly dancing, and organized them in Tehran cultural festival 2008, during which Iranian women, according to ultratraditional, behaved "inappropriately".

This discussion entailed a number of personnel changes. In July 2009, Mashaei became the first Vice-President, and G. H. Mohseni-Ejei and M. H. Saffar's-Harandi lost their jobs.

But a year later in ultratraditional circles around Janati Ahmad and Ahmad Khatami, there were rumors about ties with Mashaei "green movement." The basis for these was quite an unusual event, the initiator and organizer of which was Mashaei, with the support of Ahmadinejad and with the knowledge of Ali Khamenei. In August of 2010 in Tehran at the invitation Mashaei arrived around 1300 prominent Iranian expats and the Iranian Diaspora abroad, "to learn about the lives and achievements of revolutionary Iran." Speaking in front of them Mashaei has focused on Patriotic feelings and calls for unity on a national basis. He said that Western sanctions should not be viewed as sanctions against the Islamic Republic, as sanctions against Iran and its people. In his speech, he spoke of the great Iran, the traditions of the Iranian state and the Iranian nation, not only an exhaustive Islam. Of course, this by definition could not be favorably received by ultraconservatism. Well, the word that Iran's acceptance of Islam had freed Islam from the Arabic "rule" ("localism" – in literal translation) , caused a statement in response, Ayatollah Yazdi, said: "If someone shies away from Islam, then we warn him and if this does not help - the exiled" [9].

The paradox lay in the fact that the event has caused, to put it mildly, the anger of the activists of the green movement. In addition it is the typical mixture of anger, fiction and attacks on every action of the Iranian authorities based on the principle of opposition: "they can never be right, because you can't be right never"), the mention of this event was a phrase that explains this animosity: "the great lie Mashaei at this meeting, his flirting with the Patriotic feelings of the Iranian opposition can embarrass some opposition members, to inspire their sweet speeches of the dictatorial regime, to liberate them from the ranks of actual democratic reform in Iran" [10].

Another major reason, Mashaei gave opponents an opportunity to accuse him of seeking to the secularization of public administration, has been the active intervention of Mashaei in the formation of foreign policy of Iran, which was seen as the exclusive right spiritual guidance, and all important appointments in the foreign Ministry was going through the office of Ali Khamenei.

Thus, in the tandem actions of the Ahmadinejad-Mashaei it was not about changing the course itself. The proposed changes were to apply only the tactics of implementation is facing Iran's objectives in the international arena. And if ultratraditional argued that dialogue with the "enemy" (by which was primarily meant the US and the Arab monarchies of the Gulf) is invalid, Ahmadinejad, Mashaei and the current foreign Minister Salehi stand in this matter on a more pragmatic positions, insisting on the need to abandon the "defensive tactics", which was inherent in the Ministry of foreign Affairs of Iran Mottaki in [11]. Of course, that the activity of Iranian diplomacy since the foreign Ministry Salehi has increased on the order of, and even hostile relations with Iran, the Arab monarchies of the Gulf are able to avoid direct confrontation, moreover, despite the sanctions, despite the General growth of tensions in the greater middle East in connection with the "reformatting", the foreign trade turnover of Iran and foreign investment in the country is steadily growing, that is the objective confirmation of allegiance to the chosen "pragmatic" tactics of foreign policy [12].

Leave out of account put forward by some Russian and foreign analysts the version that Mashaei was considered in the team of Ahmadinejad as the main candidate operation "Successor". Will leave in the first place because the authors of this version, the impression was sitting in the Cabinet in the Cabinet of Ahmadinejad and listened as he urged Mashaei to nominate him as a candidate. In any case, any hard evidence is not given, all at the level "feelings" and the notorious "logic of events". Well, since access to the Cabinet in the presidential office of Ahmadinejad, I have not, then consider this version, I will not.

Much more important to understand how resignation is Masai for the Iranian political elite. Does it strengthen the position of ultratraditional in government and the impending change of course? Did it mean that Iran will be more intractable and cruel in the international arena and the domestic political situation will become more unstable and less democratic?

I think that for such conclusions there is no reason.

The resignation of Mashai is in the nature of a compromise aimed at strengthening political unity.

Of course, from events in the wider middle East during the so-called "reformatting" of the political elite of Iran made a number of conclusions. They deserve separate consideration, but the main one is that the course pursued by the "neo-conservatives" from the team of Ahmadinejad has stood the test of time and challenges to international political and economic situation.

This course showed its correctness and in a time of international economic crisis of 2008 from which Iran came out with a minimal loss, and during the attempts by the opposition to destabilize the country in the summer of 2009 and in February 2011.

The stability of the government demonstrated-reaching reform of the subsidy system. The correctness of the new tactic of Iran's foreign policy was clearly proved now in the period of aggravation of relations with the Arab monarchies of the Gulf, for the first time acting as a single military-political bloc.
It inevitably leads to the conclusion that the policy of Ahmadinejad and his team objectively corresponds to the interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the present time, moreover, it is generally acceptable for the majority of the ruling political elite. Differences neoconservatives and ultratraditional wear, with thoughtful consideration of a tactical nature and cannot be considered as a sign of growing instability in the government, as it did not want to see a number of excessively biased "researchers".

And one more note, as a kind of epilogue. Personally, I have genuinely perplexing cause of the statements of Amir, we [13] and Mehdi Khalaji [14] that the discussion around activities Mashaei is "clear evidence of the despotism of the ruling regime" and "internal struggle keeps Iran's leaders from realistically appraising their foreign and nuclear policies".

And the President's team, and ultratraditional had full opportunity to Express their point of view during parliamentary debates and in the Iranian media. Of course, discussion in the media was not wearing a familiar to Western (and obezyannike them Russian) media nature of scandal, revelations and shaking up dirty Laundry (maybe this is evidence of the undemocratic, I can not judge), but it took place and was very active.

The removal of Mashaei also took place in the framework of democratic and legal procedures. But a realistic assessment of their own policies, measure only one fact – being in a hostile environment, subjected to sanctions of Iran and provides a continuous socio-economic development, foreign investment, and conducts independent foreign policy, avoiding being drawn into open armed confrontation with their opponents.



[1] 11.04.2011 |

[2] FARS News Agence, Apr 29, 2009 |

[3] A. Vartanian: Rahim Mashaei – the grey cardinal of Iranian politics, Centrasia, 26.08.2010 |

[4] "Irans Ahmadinejad demotes top advisor", Los Angeles Times, April 09/2011|

[5] موضوع: أسفنديار رحيم مشائي.. علماني راديكالي بدرجة رئيس مع وقف التنفيذ!

[6] "The presidents awkward friend", The Economist, Sept 9t | 2010|

[7] "Ahmadi-Nejad Makes a Controversial In-Law Mashaie His Middle East Envoy" APS Diplomat News Service, Aug 30th |2010 |

[8] Parliament Takes Stand against Presidents Plan", FARS News Agence, Apr 29, 2009 |

[9] quoted in "The presidents awkward friend", The Economist, Sept 9t | 2010|

[10] Iran Free Green blog, Sept 2010th archive |

[11] I. Pankratenko: "reshuffle in Tehran." New Eastern Outlook, 20.12.2010 |


[13] "Iran or Islam? In Tehran That is the Question", Planet Iran, Aug 20th | 2010 |

[14] "Iran''s Supreme Power Struggle, Project Syndicate, Dec 16 | 2010 |

Tags: Iran

RELATED MATERIALS: Politics and Geopolitics