Iran’s chief religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a humliating rebuff, gave orders to President Ahmadinejad that he will provide cheap gas to villagles who are undergoing power cuts amind an unexpectedly harsh winter. The supreme head of Iran sided with members of parliament who have been urging Ahmadinejad to take action to assist the rural poor. Khamenei ordered enactment of a law requiring the government to provide $1 billion of gas supplies from emergency reserve funds. Ahmadinejad had refused to implement the measure and accused parliament of exceeding its power in passing the bill which came in response to low temperatures and gas cuts which have left many areas without heat during one of the coldest winters on record.
Khamenei’s intervention is one of several indications he is losing patience with the incompetent performance of Ahmadinejad. In a recent speech, Khamenei made it known he no longer viewed the present government as among the best in recent times and merely said it was no different than previous administrations. Kamenei is increasingly concerned at rising inflation and high costs of food. He recently appointe Mohammad Zolghadr as deptuy head of the armed forces for Basj a few weeks after Ahmadinejad sacked him as deputy interior minister.
This blog has been arguing for months that Americans fail to recognize the limited power possessed by Ahmadinejad. The Bush administraton acts as though President Ahmadinejad can make unilateral decisions and does not recognize powers held by religious behind the scence leaders. Hopefully, a new Democratic president could reach out to Iran and initiate negotiations that would resolve existing problems and add to the stability of the Middle East