Just after midnight on Tuesday, Tehran’s Revolutionary tribunal announced that they had arrested Saeed Mortazavi, a close aide of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad amid a growing power struggle in Iran.
Four months before the presidential election the rift between Ahmadinejad and the parliament and the judiciary, who mostly support the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has reached its climax.
Why is this arrest so important?
In the absence of an official announcement, Iranian news agencies have speculated that Mortazavi’s arrest was “possibly” connected with his alleged role in the torture and deaths of detainees in a notorious detention centre on Tehran’s outskirts after the controversial 2009 election.
However, analysts believe that the timing of this arrest makes it so significant.
It came just a day after the Iranian parliament witnessed an unprecedented public feud between the head of government and the parliament’s speaker.
What happened in the Parliament?
In a bitter exchange of words, Ahmadinejad accused the parliament speaker’s family of corruption.
The session was about the impeachment of Iran’s Labour minister, but Ahmadinejad decided to go on the attack against Ali Larijani. He astonished lawmakers by playing a recorded conversation between Mottazavi and the brother of the speaker that he alleged implicated the whole family in corruption.
The main reason for the impeachment of the labour minister was his refusal to dismiss Mortazavi from the head of Iran’s Social Security Organisation, despite repeated calls by parliament.
Ahmadinejad was adamantly opposed to demands for Mortazavi’s dismissal.
What comes next?
The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei has previously intervened in the feud. In October, he warned that anyone who tried to publicly create divisions before the presidential elections, would “betray” the country.
Nonetheless, Ahmadinejad remains to be defiant. Correspondents believe that Mortazavi’s arrest which was very likely approved by the Supreme Leader, could be interpreted as a change of strategy by Ayatollah Khamenei.
Ahmadinejad has harshly criticised the judiciary’s decision and has pledged “to investigate” when he returns from his visit to Egypt.
By: Mohammad Mohammadi
Why is the arrest of Ahmadinejad’s aide significant?