New York Times: In a sign of persistent divisions in Iran’s hard-line political camp, a coalition of major conservative parties issued an unusually blunt open letter to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday, warning him not to disregard the supreme leader and other senior figures as he chooses his new cabinet.
The New York Times
By ROBERT F. WORTH and NAZILA FATHI
BEIRUT, Lebanon — In a sign of persistent divisions in Iran’s hard-line political camp, a coalition of major conservative parties issued an unusually blunt open letter to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday, warning him not to disregard the supreme leader and other senior figures as he chooses his new cabinet.
The letter, coming two days after Mr. Ahmadinejad was sworn in for a second term, makes clear that he faces a serious challenge in uniting his own supporters, even as a broad opposition movement continues to maintain that his landslide re-election on June 12 was rigged. The group that issued the letter, which includes 14 conservative parties and leaders influential in Iran’s traditional businesses, endorsed Mr. Ahmadinejad in the election.
The letter is the latest repercussion from a fracas last month in which Mr. Ahmadinejad shocked conservatives by ignoring a command from the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to rescind the controversial appointment of a top presidential deputy. The deputy, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, finally withdrew from that position, and Mr. Ahmadinejad promptly reappointed him as his chief of staff.
The letter issued Friday told Mr. Ahmadinejad that the public, the clergy and the political elite found “shocking” his decisions regarding Mr. Mashaei, whose daughter is married to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s son, and warned him to change his approach.
“If, God forbid, you fail to consult with supporters of the revolution and pursue a path that is not in line with the leadership, if you become too confident with the people’s vote, you may lose people’s confidence and we fear that you might inflict unprecedented damage on the establishment and jeopardize cooperation with Parliament and the judiciary,” the letter said, according to copies provided to Web sites and Iranian news agencies.
The letter urged the president to “avoid this turmoil” by being more sensitive than before in making cabinet choices and consulting with senior figures.
In his inauguration speech on Wednesday, Mr. Ahmadinejad hinted that he saw the record voter turnout in the election as a popular mandate to pursue his policy goals more aggressively.
Other conservative groups have criticized Mr. Ahmadinejad harshly over his promotion of Mr. Mashaei, who said last year that Iranians were friendly toward “people in every country, even Israelis.” One group suggested that Mr. Ahmadinejad could be removed from office.
Analysts say Mr. Ahmadinejad was trying to project political strength in his promotion of Mr. Mashaei, who is part of a group of advisers and loyalists he has relied on since his early days in politics. But many Iranians were baffled by the president’s willingness to defy Ayatollah Khamenei, who wields final authority on matters of state and who has provided Mr. Ahmadinejad with crucial political support.
The Iranian police issued a statement to reporters on Friday saying that the people responsible for mistreating prisoners at the controversial Kahrizak detention center, where some protesters were tortured and killed, would be dismissed and punished, Iranian news agencies said. The police statement appeared to undercut a parliamentary investigation of abuses at the detention center, which was closed last month by order of Ayatollah Khamenei.
Also on Friday, Amnesty International said it had recorded an “alarming spike” in state executions in Iran since the election. Iran is second only to China in executions annually.
Robert F. Worth reported from Beirut, and Nazila Fathi from Toronto.