May 15, 2011 - 14:51 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The spiritual mentor of Iran's president has harshly criticized him for his role in an internal power struggle that has split the country's hard-liners, indicating that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's own support base is badly fraying.
The cleric is the latest high-profile figure to censure Ahmadinejad, who set off the spiraling political confrontation last month by firing the intelligence minister without consulting the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who quickly reinstated him in a public slap to the president.
The president's mentor, Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, said Ahmadinejad is increasingly turning friends into enemies and demonstrating what he called "illogical and cheap" behavior. He made the comments in an interview published in the hard-line weekly Shoma.
Ahmadinejad and his backers are struggling to regroup after the stinging rebuke by Khamenei over the dismissal of the intelligence minister.
The showdown was interpreted as further evidence of a growing rift between Ahmadinejad and the ruling theocracy and a sign that Khamenei is seeking to tighten his grip on political affairs before parliamentary elections next year and a presidential election in 2013 that will choose Ahmadinejad's successor.
Sensing his vulnerability, rivals in parliament are raising more challenges to Ahmadinejad, including calls to bring him before the chamber for questioning over his policies and alleged constitutional violations.
But the devastating comments by Yazdi, who strongly supported Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in 2009, shows the president's support base is rapidly unraveling after he challenged Khamenei, The Associated Press reported.