A reader writes:

I think you’re getting ahead of yourself in analyzing the divisions within the regime. Larijani has been at odds with Ahmadinejad for years. Larijani was sacked from his national security KHAMENEI0619BehrouzMehri:Getty post by the president, contested the most recent legislative elections as an overt opponent of Ahmadinejad, and was elected to the speaker’s post in the Majlis by a coalition of moderates and pragmatic conservatives who share his opinion of the president.

Throughout his tenure, Khamenei has chosen his friends based on a pragmatic assessment of immediate political interests. So, when he and Larijani have shared interests, they are allies. Just last year, Khamenei scolded Ahmadinejad in a Cabinet meeting, telling him to stop governing as if he were seeking re-election and instead lead as if he expected to be in power for five more years. That sounded an awful lot like a promise to ensure Ahmadinejad would win in 2009, and the statement was made at a time when the president was being pilloried by critics in the Majlis, the loudest of whom was Larijani.

So to characterize any recent criticism from Larijani as evidence of a significant division opening up within the power structure is simply not correct, and gives a distorted picture of what is actually happening. In the end, it all comes down to the IRGC, which answers to the Supreme Leader, has both an economic and an ideological interest in maintaining the status quo, is armed to the teeth and well trained, and has the added advantage of an Al Qaeda-like religious zeal. Unless Rafsanjani has somehow gained assurances that the IRGC will not stand in the way of a move against Khamenei, I cannot see the Assembly of Experts backing a move to take him down. And if Rafsanjani has gained such assurances, he has managed to do so by giving assurances of his own that amount to a hijacking of the “revolution.”

(Photo: Supreme Leader Khamenei by Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty.)

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