Iran Daily: Ahmadinejad Supporters Criticize Supreme Leader

Iran's former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses supporters near Tehran, November 2017 (ISNA)

Supporters of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have stepped up their criticism of Iran’s Supreme Leader, following the arrest and imprisonment of Ahmadinejad’s closest allies.

In a letter published on Ahmadinejad’s outlet Dolat-e Bahar, about 300 signatories — identified as “Hezbollah activists” who are “academics, seminary activists and a group of individuals in charge of revolutionary organizations” — challenged Ayatollah Khamenei’s leadership.

The signatories questioned the performance of “the Government, the President, the Parliament, the Judiciary, Guardian Council, State TV, the foreign diplomacy apparatus, Friday prayers leaders, the Assembly of Experts, and the Intelligence organizations”. They asserted that the regime is “lifeless and fragile from within and in need of fundamental reforms”.

The Ahmadinejad supporters then turned to Khamenei, saying he was responsible for the problem as the individual “responsible for introducing those reforms, [which] no other official can or is entitled to do”.

A “Widening Divide”

Ahmadinejad had an often-tense relationship with Khamenei from the disputed 2009 election to the end of his second term in 2013. In 2011, the President staged an 11-day boycott of his duties, in a struggle for control of Ministries, and he then accused the Revolutionary Guards and other groups of corruption.

The contest has resumed with Ahmadinejad’s attempt to return to frontline politics. The Guardian Council blocked his candidacy, as well as that of his former President Hamid Baghaei, for the Presidency in 2017.

Baghaei has now been sentenced to 15 years in prison for corruption. Senior advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr is threatened with detention, and former Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashai has been arrested.

In a largely symbolic step, a Parliamentary Audit Court has convicted Ahmadinejad of taking $1.3 billion in Government revenues and ordered repayment of the money. However, in his speeches the Supreme Leader has implictly drawn the line against the former President’s detention.

In their letter, the Ahmadinejad supporters referred to the crackdown on the aides, describing the judiciary as “the center of oppression and imposition”. They also echoed Ahmadinejad’s call — ironic in view of his dubious re-election in 2009 — for free and fair campaigns and votes, calling the Guardian Council “an apparatus that prevents the election of qualified individuals supported by the people”.

According to the signatories, Iran’s intelligence organizations, “particularly the IRGC [Revolutionary Guards]”, are “an apparatus that instead of making the country secure, protect the rulers and power gangs, and impose pressures and limitations on political and media activists”.

Referring to January’s protests across Iran, the letter warned Khamenei against “social collapse” with “the widening divide between the people and the Government, doubting the ideals of the revolution and current political structure”.

It summarized that “the future generation might remember the Islamic Republic as an unsuccessful experience”.

Related Posts

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


  1. Let’s see what the letter posted on Dowlat-e-Bahar actually reads: The signatories do not criticise Khamenei per se but, rather, the current situation, blaming it on the three branches of government and other state institutions:

    عدالت، آزادی، مردم‌سالاری و حتی بعضاً استقلال، امروز در کشور ما در وضع ناشایستی به سر می‌برند؛ البته این به آن معنا نیست که هیچ پیشرفت و حرکت مثبتی در این زمینه‌ها در چهل سال گذشته صورت نگرفته است و در برخی مقاطع تاریخ انقلاب روند رو به رشد و فعالیت‌هایی مهم و امیدبخش در این زمینه‌ها نداشته‌ایم؛

    “Justice, freedom, democracy, and even independence,are in a bad state in our country today; Of course, this does not mean that no progress has been made in these areas for the last forty years, or that throughout the history of the revolution there have not been growing and promising activities in many fields.”

    • You omitted the passage challenging the Supreme Leader for his failure to hold those branches and institutions to account.

      • That’s not reflective of the title of this post “Ahmadinejad Supporters Criticize Supreme Leader”. The criticism they offer is that of the situation of the country – for which they mostly blame the administration, judiciary and the Guardians council – and why an overhaul of the political system is necessary.

        • In the political language of Iran, the call on Khamenei to act is a criticism that he has not done so — at least to the satisfaction of Ahmadinejad and his supporters.

          This should be seen in the context of months of letters and speeches by Ahmadinejad chiding regime officials (and implicitly the Supreme Leader) over the judiciary, the Government, and elections.

          • Khamenei is the head of state, not the head of government. He isn’t responsible for every decision taken or policy made by the three branches of the government even if that is the perception of some in the West. Yes, he appoints the head of the Supreme court, and half of the the Guardians council, but, as with SC justices appointed for life by presidents in the Untited States, they are held to account on their own performance. The petition appears to be an attempt to call for a long-overdue referendum calling for changes to the constitution which last happened in 1989. According to Article 177, only the Leader can initiate the process. Ahmadinejad first suggested having a referendum back in 2011.

              • That’s how I am interpreting the letter. It may be addressed to Khamenei, but the complaint made is about systemic problems within the ruling establishment.

            • “as with SC justices appointed for life by presidents in the Untited States”

              Do I need to go into why or how that statement is extremely disingenuous? For starters SC judges are nominated by the POTUS and confirmed by the senate. They are not appointed by some corrupt, unelected Supreme Dictator for life or by a majlis who obeys the supreme dictator like dogs. Their functions are also very different. Nice try. There is nothing democratic about Iran regardless of how you try to present it. It’s all a facade.

Leave a Comment