The bickering between former Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his followers is ongoing; with each side accusing the other of lies. This bickering is, of course, enjoyable to those outside of Iran, because it helps us to discover the truth of the struggle that is taking place between the elites there.
Mottaki, the man whose job it was to polish the image of the Iranian regime, issued a statement last week in which he denied that he had been informed of his dismissal before he left Iran for Senegal and called on the government to “stop lying” saying that “dismissing a Minister during a [diplomatic] mission is un-Islamic, undiplomatic, and offensive.” On this topic, a reliable Iranian source informed me that during his meeting with the Senegalese, Mottaki was talking about Iranian policies when in the middle of his explanation his [Senegalese] host interrupted him saying that whilst Senegal respects and appreciates him, he no longer represented Iran; after the announcement of Mottaki’s dismissal had been made. The Iranian source told me that “this was embarrassing for Mottaki, and harsh.”
The Iranian source also mentioned another famous story that is similar to this, and he said that: on 25 December 2001, during the visit paid by Mehdi Karroubi – who was the Iranian Speaker of Parliament at the time – to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz – who at this time was the Saudi Crown Prince – Karroubi began to speak about the freedom and openness being seen in Iran, however his Saudi host then asked “what about the arrest of the MP for Hamadan, Hossein Loghmanian, which took place not a few hours ago?” According to the source, Karroubi was shocked, for the Saudi Arabians were more aware of the latest news from Iran than the Iranian Speaker of Parliament himself!
However the Iranian source said that he believed that the major reason behind Mottaki’s dismissal was a letter he had sent to the Supreme Leader of Iran, protesting against Ahmadinejad’s appointment of special envoys with close ties to him. [In his letter to the Supreme Leader] Mottaki said that this weakened his own position, as well as the Foreign Ministry itself. This was after Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, Ahmadinejad’s own chief of staff, paid a visit to Jordan to meet with King Abdullah II. According to the source, this letter [which was sent following this meeting] led to Mottaki’s dismissal, and also revealed his anger [at the situation] which drove him to send such a letter to the Supreme Leader, which included a complaint against the Iranian President himself.
Of course, what immediately springs to the mind of the reader and any observer are questions such as: is the [Iranian] president stronger than the Supreme Leader, and the [Iranian] parliament? Has the Iranian president begun to wield true influence, as some of the reports seem to indicate? Of course, nobody knows the answer to these questions. However the Iranian sources do not believe so, rather they believe that Ahmadinejad is a man who is unconcerned with the repercussions of his decisions, and that what is taking place in Iran today is an indication that something bigger is happening there.
Therefore, this bickering between Mottaki and Ahmadinejad helps us to understand the nature of the conflict that is taking place between the elites in Iran. For history, as do our present experiences, tells us that it is difficult to predict anything in Iran. On this issue, I recall that one of Iran’s revolutionary figures once told me that “before the fall of the Shah’s regime we thought that the revolution would take place in a few years, but it took place within months!” Therefore, as we mentioned before, this bickering helps us to decipher what is really going on in Tehran.