Almost 40 days have passed since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s close companion, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, was disqualified for candidacy in presidential election and the president’s silence so far has surprised many.
His controversial and exaggerating support for Mashaei, especially in the last six months prior to the election was to an extent which made many expect an eruptive reaction from him.
Mashaei is Ahmadinejad’s longtime close friend whose actions, as many critics say, decreased the president’s popularity. He has had overstatements and exorbitant talks about sacred principals of Islam and Shiism and is also charged with political and economical corruption, but Ahmadinejad has insisted many times that “I am Mashaei, and Mashaei is me”. Upon his disqualification, the president said he would pursuit the case to the last minute via the leader and hoped the issue would be solved.
“The president met the leader tree times and requested for his special order [on the issue] but the leader did not accept his requests,” said Haj Sadeghi, the deputy of the representative of the Leader Ayatollah Khamenei in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
It is not clear if Ahmadinejad did other things too but in a gathering held on June 24, when he spoke to his supporters he said sarcastically, “They omitted a number of the pure and the believer and many were sad and contacted me regularly,” He did not mention any names but political observers say he was referring to disqualification of Mashaei.
The president’s supporters and even many of his critics expected the president to attack the main organizations of the system, especially the Guardian Council, but unbelievably he did nothing and pretended to obey the law.
Ahmadinejad’s “mere” silence was so strange that led political observers make two analyses.
A small group of observers who believe in the first analysis still are waiting for Ahmadinejad’s political attack. They believe the president is adding to his indirect protest with suspending his provincial trips and doing nothing for the economy. These analysts say the president is angry about the big defeat of his men in the presidential and city council elections and the cases against him in the judiciary and has a special plan to punish his critics even if only one day remains from his administration.
But the second group of analysts rejects the first analysis and makes a totally different argument in response to it. They say during recent years, Dr. Ahmadinejad and his friends have reached to this conclusion that standing against original and principal organizations of the Islamic Republic and creating tensions in the country would lead to a decline in their popular votes and omission from the country’s political system. According to them, for several reasons it is not expected from Ahmadinejad to make any upheaval in the remaining days of his presidency:
- Considering the two orders by the leader, one regarding the vice presidency of Mashaei and the other regarding the ministry of information, Ahmadinejad thought he could make the system back off but his prediction turned wrong. He also has seen that even during the 2009 protests and riots the system did not back off from its position and did not nullify the votes so he would not make the same mistake over Mashaei’s disqualification.
- Inability to control economic problems that led to increased financial pressure against the people, paying little attention to the sacred, and disagreeing with some rules and leader’s advices weaken his social standing. The president cannot make tension in the society when he does not have popular support.
- The president does not want to make himself a center of hatred forever with making a not very useful tension in the country
- He wants to remain as a peaceful and oppressed figure in the mind of the people, leaving good memories behind himself and giving himself the chance of returning to top positions again.
- He does not want to compensate the chance of getting away from the charges against him and his friends in several economic and political suits for a political upheaval which does not have a clear result.
- A political attack might destroy the president’s critics but its costs would be more than its benefits and it would be more like a suicidal action and not a contemplated action.
- If Ahmadinejad wanted to create tension he would do it before the election but his silence then showed he was not willing to do so.
Based on these reasons the second analysis seems to be closer to reality and thus we should not expect more tensions and upheavals from the president.