November 13, 2007

Mother of Mohammed! Is this the end of Mahmoud?

Hatched by Dafydd

The title alludes, as I'm sure you all know, to the last line spoken by Edward G. Robinson in his revolutionary movie Little Caesar -- which, along with James Cagney's The Public Enemy, started the 1930s-40s trend of gangster biopics and may have been an early progenitor of film noir. The Hollywood gangster line eventually led to such classics as the Godfather movies and the more recent Goodfellas.

The original line in Little Caesar, is, of course "Mother of Mercy! Is this the end of Rico?" (But in the original 1929 novel by the incomparable W. R. Burnett, the line reads, "Mother of God! Is this the end of Rico?")

I raise the question "is this the end of Mahmoud" because, in a stunning turn of events, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has now accused his critics of being traitors to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Those critics include former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the current chairman of the Assembly of Experts, which will select the next Supreme Leader of Iran... and is himself a likely pick for that very post when the current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei dies.


That verbal assault may be akin to waiting until Vladimir Lenin is on his deathbed to accuse Josef Stalin of being a counter-revolutionary.

Rafsanjani is also the chairman of the Expediency Council, which is supposed to resolve differences between the two branches of the Iranian legislature (the Majlis and the Guardian Council); the Expediency Council also directly advises the Supreme Leader. All of which is to note that Rafsanjani is probably the second most powerful cleric in Iran... and Ahmadinejad just called him and several of his close associates traitors:

One of Iran's most powerful cleric-politicians, former president Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rasfanjani, issued a veiled criticism of Ahmadinejad last week, saying officials must "avoid immaturity and not cause trouble for the people."

Ahmadinejad warned Monday that he would expose his critics, saying, "They are traitors."

"If internal elements do not stop pressures concerning the nuclear issue, they will be exposed to the Iranian nation," Ahmadinejad said in a speech to students at Tehran's Science and Industry University. "We have made promises to the people and believe anyone giving up over the nuclear issue is a traitor."


Rafsanjani's great rival on the Assembly of Experts is Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, who happens, by sheerest chance, to be President Ahmadinejad's guru. And by another strand of "the lattice of coincidence the lies on top of everything," when Ahmadinejad won the presidency in 2005, his only serious rival was -- wait for it -- Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Small world, ain't it?

Ahmadinejad skirted as close to actually naming one of Rafsanjani's closest advisors as he possibly could:

He accused critics of regularly providing "the enemy" with "information from within the ruling system...."

The president said one official has already been arrested for espionage and accused his critics of pressuring the courts to acquit him.

"But I announce here that the Iranian nation won't allow these persons and groups to use political and economic influence to save criminals from the clutches of justice," he said.

Ahmadinejad did not name the official. But Hossein Mousavian -- a Rafsanjani ally who served as top nuclear negotiator under reformist former President Mohammad Khatami -- was briefly detained this year. Authorities have not said what charges he faces, but the semiofficial Fars news agency has reported that the charges were likely related to espionage.

So let's review the bidding...

  • Ahmadinejad has called a "traitor" anyone within Iran who disagrees with his absolutist stance on nuclear-weapons development;
  • Further, Ahmadinejad threatens to "expose" all those he has dubbed "traitors" very soon now;
  • Everyone in power in Iran understands that Ahmadinejad really means Rafsanjani and his posse, and they're all waiting for the other shoe to grind;
  • Rafsanjani is likely the second-most powerful man in Iran... and his duties allow him to speak to the most powerful man in Iran, Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- probably every day;
  • If Ahmadinejad tumbles from power, this will also strike a powerful blow against Rafsanjani's bitterest and strongest rival on the Assembly of Experts, and another top contender for the position of Supreme Leader when Khamenei drops his turban.

I don't know about the CIA and the State Department, but to me, this sounds like Ahmadinejad has declared all-out war against Hashemi Rafsanjani... and that he has bitten off considerably more than he can chew.

Add to that the widespread dissatisfaction with and even resentment against Ahmadinejad for his inability to fix the economy, for his repeated violent crackdowns on the population for "un-Islamic" activities (such as not having proper beards), and for his taunting of Western powers that has brought sanctions and might bring military destruction raining down upon Iran... and I think we have the makings of a Molotov Cocktail for Mahmoud.

Not that Rafsanjani is all that great a guy himself; he is an Iranian mullah, for Pete's sake. But to return to our gangster-movie theme, Rafsanjani is like Paul Cicero (Paul Sorvino), the local Luccese family capo in Goodfellas... but Ahmadinejad is like Joe Pesci's character Tommy DeVito, the mobster who was too wild to live. (You'll have to watch this wonderful movie to find out how that all works out; but it's quite apropos.)

Rajsanjani really has only two choices:

  1. Ignore the accusation, thereby making himself appear weak just when he most needs to be strong;
  2. Or use the accusation as a bludgeon to beat Mahmoud Ahmadinejad like an ornery camel.

Let's hope that Rafsanjani decides enough is enough and institutes steps through the proper channels to kick Rumplestiltskin out on his teeny posterior.

Let Ahmadinejad go back to being mayor of Teheran. Or heck -- maybe he could take "Red Ken" Livingstone's place as mayor of London; that might actually be an international improvement!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 13, 2007, at the time of 6:18 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Terrye

I hope you are right, this little man is getting on my nerves.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 13, 2007 2:13 PM

The following hissed in response by: Fat Man

Dinnerjacket is just a side show. When he ceases to be amusing the real bosses will send to run a gas station in Baluchistan.

The above hissed in response by: Fat Man [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 13, 2007 8:25 PM

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