'Very Harsh Attack'
Iran watchers see the escalating public dispute as further proof of the
bitter power struggle ongoing within the Islamic Republic, a power
struggle that has significantly weakened but which has failed to fully
neutralize the Iranian president, whose second and final term ends in
2013. Paris-based political analyst Morteza Kazemian told RFE/RL's Radio Farda
that Ahmadinejad's letter demonstrates that he will continue to
publicly spar with his powerful rivals, who are close to Supreme Leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "In reaction to the humiliation he faced from Mohseni Ejei, Ahmadinejad
launched a very harsh attack against the head of the judiciary. It shows
that he is determined to make the maximum use of his position with an
eye on the future presidential election," Kazemian says. "He is not
willing to easily give the presidency to his rivals."
In his letter, Ahmadinejad said that his demand to visit Evin -- which
Ejei linked to the imprisonment of his aide Javanfekr - was aimed at
seeing "how the nation's rights are being preserved," which he would
report to the nation and the supreme leader. Ahmadinejad said the jailing of Javanfekr, who was sentenced to six
months for publishing materials contrary to Islam and for insulting
Khamenei, was unjust, and asked in his letter, "How do you know that
meeting with [Javanfekr] was on my work agenda?"
Ahmadinejad's demand to visit the prison -- home to many of Iran's
political prisoners, including those sentenced for protesting his
disputed reelection in 2009 -- has been met with raised eyebrows by many
in Iran's media and political circles. Journalist Mehdi Mahdaviazad believes the president's sudden interest in
Evin is a politically calculated move. Ahmadinejad has in the past been
accused of trying to influence the 2013 presidential vote. "Ahmadinejad, with his shrewd moves and games, is every day inciting the
centers of power allied with Khamenei," Mahdaviazad says. "His latest
game is his alleged interest to visit Evin after [not going during]
seven years in power. Yet we know very well that he doesn't care about
the prisoners' conditions and democracy."
Analysts say this latest move has marginalized Ahmadinejad even further
and turned some of his former hard-line backers against him. In an October 22 interview with the daily "Etemad," Khamenei's
representative in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Force (IRGC), Ali
Saeedi, is quoted as saying that he regrets his past support for
Ahmadinejad. "We did not have the prescience to know what was going on in
Ahmadinejad's mind and what he wanted to do in the future," Saeedi says. He said he personally told the Iranian president that he could have been a hero. "We must pay attention to major issues," Prosecutor-General Gholam
Hossein Mohseni Ejei said, adding, "Visiting a prison in these
circumstances is a minor issue."