Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Persian Letters

Where is Ahmadinejad’s Closest Aide Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei?

Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad's (left) and his chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei
Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad's (left) and his chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei
The Iranian president's right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, is reportedly back in Tehran amid speculation concerning his whereabouts. 

While last week U.S. media were focusing their attention on the visit of Iran’s President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to the United Nations and his usual controversial comments, the attention of some Iranian media and observers was turned toward Mashaei.

Mashaei, described by Ahmadinejad’s opponents as a key member of the so-called "deviant current" that is allegedly trying to undermine the role of the clergy, was in New York with the Iranian president. 

Inside Iran there have been calls for his arrest and his trip to New York was described by some as an attempt by Ahmadinejad to prevent that from happening.

On September 27, when Ahmadinejad returned to Tehran, his chief of staff and closest aide was nowhere to be seen.

The semi-official Mehr news agency reported that Mashaei had not been sighted at the welcome ceremony for Ahmadinejad at Mehrabad airport. 

Speculation and rumors abounded that Mashaei had stayed in the United States, apparently in an attempt to escape the political heat in Tehran.

One website even claimed that the 51-year-old chief of staff had applied for a 6-month U.S. visa.

Eventually, on September 29, “Asriran” reported that Mashaei had been seen in the Iranian capital.

“An informed source who was present at the welcome ceremony for the president told our reporter that Mashaei was in the plane that carried the president. He said he saw Mashaei getting out of the plane at Mehrabad,” the website said, adding that Mashaei had tried to stay away from cameras in New York.

“Asriran” said the reason behind what it described as “secrecy games” was unclear.

The report added that some believe that people in the government are trying to divert attention from issues such as the recent massive bank fraud case.

The rumors about Mashaei, whose name has surfaced in relation to the $2.6 billion dollar embezzlement scandal, appear to be part of a negative campaign launched by Ahmadinejad’s opponents against the Iranian president and his close circle.

The case, described as the biggest embezzlement in Iran’s history, has added to the pressure on Ahmadinejad, who has become isolated as the result of a power struggle with Iran’s supreme leader and his allies.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Brian from: Ireland
September 30, 2011 10:35
This reminds me a lot of all those "analysis" and false predictions of Ahmadinejad resigning and "challenging" the Supreme Guide Ayatollah Khamenei.

It is time that global media and RFERL stop publishing politicized opinions of Iranian exiles who rarely if ever go to Iran and present their wishes of seeing the Islamic system collapse under the disguise of serious analytical work. This is precisely the reason why the West never gets it right with Iran since 32 years due to lack of serious scholarly analysis on Iran and not the exaggerations of the Iranian abroad who have more in common with residents of Paris, New York then Mashad or Tabriz.
In Response

by: Demetrius Minneapolis from: My house
September 30, 2011 23:10
Brian, this is a blog for Iranian political and social news. No one implies it's the Harvard debating society of Persian affairs.
PS, if you are so learned on the internal workings of the Iranian admin and Clerical authorities, please, step up and share with the rest of us.
In Response

by: Kambiz
October 01, 2011 12:09
Brian, Miss Esfandiari writes better than anyone about Iranian politics, this is a blog based on stories published inside Iran. It's not a commentary by 'another exiled Iranian'. Also for your information some exiled Iranians are very well informed about the inside politics.
In Response

by: Irani
October 02, 2011 11:29
Hi Brian,
I totally agree with your comment! Iranians abroad or the so called "diaspora" are totally detached from realities of today's Iran, whether they are in academia or in hair salon! I doubt any of them would want to live in Iran (as compared to paris and NY) even if the Islamic Republic was overthrown in Iran! They just seem to want attention. After all, Iran is such a hot and sexy topic over which everyone seem to have an opinion which looks more like a prescription!

by: Babak from: Europe
September 30, 2011 14:57
Brian: I agree that reports should be based on facts and scholarly research, but I take great offense in the way you talk about us exiles. Of bloody course we all want this barbaric regime to fall, this is one of the harshest and worst dictatorships in the modern era of mankind, anyone that says otherwise is either a useful idiot for the regime or one of them. Which one you are I dont know, but please, quit these ignorant comments...
In Response

by: Brian from: Ireland
October 01, 2011 10:24
I am a scholar on the history of the Middle East. This is the main issue; it is mainly the exiles who wish for a secular system that is a Western puppet. Iranians living in Iran have a totally different vision of their country. I suggest you all read a very detailed and scholarly analysis by Eric.A.Brill called " Did Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Steal the 2009 Iran Election? “ to realize that most of the exile community has absolutely no clue of what is happening in Iran and the Iranian political system.
In Response

by: An angry Iranian
October 01, 2011 15:57
Brian the scholar, do you even speak Farsi? or do you rely on Western press reports and give us a lecture about how you're the only one who understand Iran?!
In Response

by: Hashem from: London
October 01, 2011 23:59
You are quite right to say that most Iranains who live abroad have a different vision of their country than those who live in Iran. But you cannot tell them because they know it all ! Their telling you off is a sign of their arrogance. In the last 31 years what have they done for the people inside the country?
No doubt I will be labelled as a supporter of the clerical regime or someone who hates his own kind !

In Response

by: Tehran
October 02, 2011 11:34
YES! I am an Iranian living in Europe but I travel back to Iran quite a lot. I am not a regime agent, nor a blood thirsty dictator, or anything like that. I am actually not even a religious person myself, BUT I am in favour of teh Islamic Republic. Guys abroad, go read some history please! Do you have any idea what our Revolution really means? Who fought in the Iran-Iraq War? When was teh last time you were in Iran? Why do you want to portray yourself as this very importnat person who will be arrested upon arrival in Tehran? I'm sure no one would even notice you if you decide to live in Iran, But you are too self-obsessed to realise this.
In Response

by: Babak from: Europe
October 02, 2011 12:26
"Iranians living in Iran have a totally different vision of their country".

Really?? I have been to Iran several times in the past 15 years, I have family both in what would be called the middle- and the working classes of society, and not a SINGLE one of them wants the islamic republic to remain governing Iran. Also, if you know about Iran in the way you imply, you should know that it is just enough to sit in a taxi-cab in any city and chances are high that people start cursing the regime and the mullahs. I have never, ever, come across a normal civilian in Iran who wants the regime to remain or call themselves a "reformist". I am not saying that through these experiences, I have all the answers. But these are nevertheless my experiences and understandings of the matter at hand, and those are much more valuable in understanding the "temperature" of what people in Iran want than your "research papers". I was IN IRAN during the summer of 2009. Were you?

You seem to me like one of the useful idiots for the regime, especially when you recommend me to read a paper regarding the so called "elections". Honestly, I do not give a rotten damn about "elections" in the islamic republic any more than anyone in the western world cared about "elections" in the Soviet Union. I am constantly amazed by how western scholars and "experts" deceive themselves and their otherwise great ability to understand complex matters such as this, by looking at elections in countries such as Iran as "legitimate" and "correct".

What even gives you the right to strike down on Iranians who do not live in Iran like this? And what gives you the right to imply that iranians in Iran have a different vision for their country? Either you have swallowed the propaganda of the regime, or you are just utterly incompetent in understanding these matters. In either case, I find your comments truly ignorant, and I suggest you lift your head out of your books and papers and start talking to people, both inside and outside of Iran.
In Response

by: Cyrus Anwar from: Dubai
October 07, 2011 05:39
Scholar on the history of the Middle East does not qualify you to judge on what Iranians inside Iran want? I am a regular visitor to Iran and know many people in Iran and know what majority wish for. A referendum could easily let all know what Iranians want, but the government is afraid of holding a referendum. The IRI even cheats in elections. As a scholar of history on Middle East, you should know well what happened just after the June 2009 election.

by: Ali
September 30, 2011 16:21
These Iranian political games are interesting to watch. Until just a few months ago Ahmadinejad seemed to be invincible, so was Mashaei. Amusing that he's been now forced into hiding.

by: Josh from: NY
October 01, 2011 17:52
The US got fooled by the Iraqi exiles once, we all remember the Congressional term, "we got Chalabied (Ahmed Chalabi)." Remember how all these Iraqi exiles told us lies about WMD's just to revenge Saddam. Same story with these Iranian ones, for their own reasons they are willing to fight until the last US taxpayers dollar, but its unlikely the US public will be fooled by these tricks again.
In Response

by: Rouzbeh from: Netherland
October 02, 2011 18:06
Spot on . Having said that in the West, especailly in the USA , most people would like to hear horrible things about the Islamic regime. So people like the blogger who wrote this story satisfies the need of this people. There is a market for it and It is simply a supply and demand issue .
I am not saying that everything is OK in Iran. Nor am I saying that the regime is not a dictotarial one. Indeed a lot of Iranians are suffering at the hands of this regime. But the point is some poeple (if not a lot) are supporting it. If the regime had no power base, it would collapse and there is no sign of such thing yet.
For some Iranians like 'Babak from Europe' to say that no one wants this regime is none other than self-deception. It is easy to say that no one in my family supports the regime, then no one in Iran supports it ! What a childish generalization !
Most of what you hear from Iranians abroad about the regime should be taken with a pinch of salt !
In Response

by: Babak from: Europe
October 03, 2011 10:06
Ok you need to relax. I have never implied that just because "my family" doesn't want this regime nobody wants it, I expect readers of this site to be smarter than that, but apparently you are not.

I am very well aware that this regime has a powerful and large base which supports it, mainly the people who live off it and profit from it, and there are many millions of them.

HOWEVER, the point I am trying to make is that I subscribe to the theory that a majority of the country does NOT want the islamic republic to govern them. As I said before, I do not for a second think I have all the answers, however I base this on what I have experienced and learned through the years. I just dont understand what is so controversial about what I am saying, and I am also truly shocked that there are so many supporters of the regime here on this forum. Any true iranian should be against the islamic republic with heart and soul, regardless of what amount of "support" they have inside Iran (which, I must stress again, I am convinced is NOT even close to a majority of the people). And those who live off the regime and profit from it inside Iran, there will come a day when they will have to answer for that too, hopefully.



by: James Dean from: London
October 03, 2011 10:45
Its been reported in Tehran Times and other official Iranian media, that in 2006, President Ahmadinejad was admitted into the inner circle of the secret Messiaonic Cult of their divine Mahdi. This is similiar to Opius Dai hidden society in the Vatican. In Iran, Esfandiar is the master and Ahmadinejad is the disciple. It is Esfandiar who is running the Iranian presidency. He has full support of the supreme leader Khamenei.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

Guerrilla Translators

Seen anything in the Iranian blogosphere that you think Persian Letters should cover? If so, contact Golnaz Esfandiari at esfandiarig@rferl.org