Robert Fisk: Sting in this Persian tale to force out Ahmadinejad
Published 28/06/2011 | 05:00
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's irascible, unpredictable but devout president, may be forced to resign in the coming weeks as a political crisis threatens to overwhelm him and his court favourites in the government.
The overwhelming influence of his close friend and confidant Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaee, the president's chief of staff -- who is blamed for the firing of two intelligence ministers and for infuriating even the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei -- is expected to bring down Ahmadinejad in one of the most spectacular putsches in the history of the Islamic Republic.
Iranian politicians are already speculating on who will succeed the president -- Ali Akbar Salehi, the foreign minister and for four years the head of Iran's atomic agency, is a favourite -- as three of Rahim-Mashaee's close allies have been purged in just three days over the past week, arrested by security agencies while Ahmadinejad has remained silent.