Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warns that the recent arrests of government officials are “politically motivated” and aimed at “pressuring the administration,” adding that if his cabinet is targeted with similar tactics, he will reveal certain things to the public.
The Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) reports that on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting today, Ahmadinejad said: “The cabinet is a red line which, if they try to cross it, I will have to act on my legal duty, and this will definitely harm the country.”
Recent weeks have seen the arrest of several allies of Ahmadinejad: Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh, who resigned as deputy foreign minister but remains secretary general of the High Council of Iranians; Ali Asghar Parhizkar, executive director of the Arvand Free Zone; and Alireza Moghimi, Executive Director of the Aras Free Zone.
“Our current stance is to remain silent, because the country needs unity and cooperation to push ahead,” said Ahmadinejad. “The global and regional situation is sensitive, and the Supreme Leader has repeatedly stressed the need for unity and cooperation.”
He added: “Several accusations have been madein the name of the detained individuals, and there were several problems with these arrests, which I have announced to the head of the judiciary.”
Ahmadinejad went on to say: “These incidents and issues affect the function of the country and the administration. I am being asked: ‘What can we doÉ What’s to be done?’”
He added: “In our opinion, all of these moves boil down to one political action. We are convinced that this is a political move to pressure the administration. If they want to continue and accuse our cabinet colleagues for various reasons, it will be my moral, legal and patriotic duty to stand up and defend my colleagues in the cabinet.”
Ahmadinejad also said: “I have kept silent until now and will continue doing so. But at the point when I notice that the country is seriously in harm’s way, it will be my duty to inform the public and do my legal duty, but I hope it will not come to that.”
The arrested individuals are considered to be close to Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, the president’s chief of staff, whom the conservative elite accuses of leading a “deviant current” aimed at destabilizing the Islamic Republic.
Last week, conservative MP Ahmad Tavakoli said in a radio interview that “all the people around Ahmadinejad are either corrupt or deviant or both.”
The wave of pressure against the Ahmadinejad administration has intensified since he fell into a dispute with the Supreme Leader over cabinet appointments.