Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is locked in an unprecedented power struggle with the Islamic republic's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Two weeks ago, Ahmadinejad fired an intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi. Khamenei reinstated him, and told Ahmadinejad to accept that decision or resign. Ahmadinejad boycotted cabinet meetings for 11 days before backing down Sunday, when he welcomed Moslehi back. Will this save Ahmadinejad's presidency, or is he already doomed?
It doesn't look good for Ahmadinejad: It might be too late for Ahmadinejad to patch things up with Khamenei, says Parisa Hafezi at Reuters. "The dispute has heightened the anger felt by conservatives over efforts by Ahmadinejad to wrest more control over security and foreign affairs from the clerical establishment." Clerics led Muslim worshippers in chants of "death to opponents of the Supreme Leader" on Friday. That doesn't bode well for Ahmadinejad.
"Analysis: Iranian leadership row weakens Ahmadinejad camp"
The fight also hurt Khamenei: Ahmadinejad isn't the only one weakened by this bickering, says Reza Khalili at Pajamas Media. Ahmadinejad has supporters in the Revolutionary Guards, and his side has "warned the hardliners (supporters of Khamenei) that there will be blood" if the clash gets out of hand. No one has ever had the guts to challenge Khamenei so directly, "so his prestige is diminished," as is his legitimacy as supreme leader.
"Rift in Iranian Leadership Spreads to the Streets of Tehran"
The feud is far from over: Khamenei's allies in parliament are reviving efforts to impeach Ahmadinejad, says Tony Karon at TIME, and Ahmadinejad's protege was charged with "sorcery" last week. Ahmadinejad's camp is in trouble as long as it pushes to cautiously renew relations with the West, something Khamenei won't do. And tensions will only get worse as Iran's economy spirals downward, so the supreme leader might "cut Ahmadinejad loose and blame his polices for the looming economic disaster."
"Iran: Ahmadinejad on the ropes in clash with his supreme leader"