Key Ahmadinejad aide behind dismissal of senior Iranian officials

Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei is said to be the man behind the dismissal.

Washington: A key aide of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, is said to be the man behind the dismissal of several senior officials.

Chief of Staff Rahim-Mashaei’s daughter is married to Ahmadinejad`s son.

Take the case of Mehrdad Bazrpash, the young head of the National Youth Organisation and a loyal follower of President Ahmadinejad. He had every reason to expect his string of high-profile jobs would continue, but was summarily fired.

Last week, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was fired.

Critics point to Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, but that has not stopped Ahmadinejad from appointing him to a host of senior positions, the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reports.

Ahmadinejad “ordered Bazrpash’s dismissal” at a cabinet meeting last Sunday, “following Bazrpash’s criticism of some of Rahim-Mashaei’s interference in the affairs of the National Youth Organisation,” according to the Tabnak news website.

The report speculated that Ahmadinejad’s modus operandi was to solve one crisis by creating another one, in the face of biting United Nations and US sanctions, a highly contentious and painful subsidy reform plan, and many other problems.

A ranking member of the Islamic Guidance Ministry was also reportedly fired on Friday, along with another forced from his job just days ago.

“Clearly inside Iran, inside conservative circles, everybody is saying its Mashaei…. The consequence has been that even [the official pro-regime newspaper] Kayhan is attacking Ahmadinejad – everybody is,” says Farideh Farhi, an Iran expert at the University of Hawaii.

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.

A leading parliamentarian has criticised Ahmadinejad’s “tribal management of affairs”.

A senior ayatollah warned that the president was diluting the pool of faithful ideologues by squeezing out suitable “devotees”.