Iran Prez’s rivals rise within conservative camp

Last Updated: Monday, August 24, 2009 - 14:26

Cairo: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad doesn`t have to look to the street protests or angry Web sites to get a sense of challenges ahead for his disputed second term. There`s enough potential heat coming from right inside the country`s leadership.
And these days, that trouble has a name: the brothers Larijani.

Ali Larijani is Iran`s urbane parliament speaker and has made no secret of his annoyance with Ahmadinejad`s gruff and populist style. Larijani`s younger brother, the cleric Sadeq, has been appointed justice chief by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all major affairs.

Khamenei has publicly backed Ahmadinejad all during the violence and political upheavals since the June 12 Presidential Election. But his choice of Sadeq Larijani could indicate an attempt to rein in Ahmadinejad`s reach and cement the loyalty of the powerful Larijani clan to the theocracy.

It`s also part of a larger narrative of growing splits between Ahmadinejad backers, including the powerful Revolutionary Guard, and other hard-line factions that question whether he is a potential liability for Iran as the country tries to regain its international standing.

The Larijanis appear to be gaining stature as favoured sons of the Islamic leaders -- just as Ahmadinejad was elevated from relative obscurity in 2005 -- and possibly emerge as a rising political force in coming years, analysts say.

Bureau Report




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