It is never difficult overestimating the incompetence of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but his latest escapade must rank among his most fascinating efforts to antagonize just about every political group in his nation. His choice for first vice president, Esfandiar Rahim Mashie, was forced to resign from the position after conservative members of parliament as well as clerics blasted the appointment of a man who made the outrageous statement that Iran is a “friend of the Israeli people.” Of course, he never said, “Israel government,” but the thought of someone in a leadership position within Iran who believes it is possible to be friends with Israelis was a bit too much for Iranian hardliners. In the space of a month Ahmadinejad has aroused the fury of moderate and hard line clerics, an accomplishment few could achieve in such a brief period of time.
The strong reaction suggests while many conservatives supported Ahmadinejad for the presidency over Mousavi, they still regard the president as incompetent and will exert pressure to force his acceptance of their economic agenda. Even worse for Ahmadinejad, his ally and boss, Ayatollah Khamenei, also blasted the appointment and urged the president to appoint someone else.
The ides of July do not reveal omens of peace and success for a president who is disliked by most of the population.