His influence was not lost on one Iranian newspaper run by the hard-line militant group Ansar-e Hezbollah, which this week published a satirical cartoon showing Rahim-Mashaei dismissing Ahmadinejad himself from the presidential post.
Bazrpash appears to have been caught out by the power politics. But the sacking of such an evident “true believer” in Iran’s unique Islamic system, a life-long devotee of clerical rule, is raising questions of Ahmadinejad putting politics and loyalty ahead of religious purity.
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 Organization,” 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 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.
Rahim-Mashaei has dismissed as a “big lie” accounts that his trip to Jordan was diplomatic overreach. But since the disputed June 2009 election, “it’s clear that at least part of the elite has been pushed out, so the ruling circle has become narrower, in terms of ideological orientation,” says Ms. Farhi.