Ahmad Khatami

Hardline cleric Ahmad Khatami dealt Mahmoud Ahmadinejad some harsh criticism for his failure to heed the decisions of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

The senior member of the Assembly of Experts and Tehran’s current Friday Mass leader told the conservative publication Shoma that Ahmadinejad must be cautious of a “deviatory movement” close to the president.

Khatami said the clergy has deep reservations about the president’s chief of staff, Esfanidar Rahim Mashai. He maintained that the clergy has refrained from emphasizing its objections because Ayatollah Kahmenei has urged the establishment to put its concerns in priority.

Khatami criticized Ahmadinejad for continuing his close association with Mashai. “Why is it that the Minister of Intelligence is missing from cabinet meetings but this questionable person still sits beside the president?” Khatami asks, referring to the persistence of disputes between Ahmadinejad and his intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi, even after Ayatollah Khamenei ordered that Moslehi remain in his position. That happened after Ahmadinejad had already accepted Moslehi’s resignation, which many believe was the result of disputes between the intelligence minister and the president’s chief of staff Mashai.

Rather than acquiescing to the Supreme Leader’s wishes, Ahmadinejad chose to sulk for 10 days, missing cabinet meetings and official duties. And now that he has returned to cabinet meetings, Intelligence Minister Moslehi has been absent from cabinet proceedings, according to media reports.

Khatami criticized Ahmadinejad’s actions, noting that the president is not supposed to hesitate for even a moment in carrying out the Supreme Leader’s wishes.

“People expected that in the first cabinet meeting following the incident, Mr. Ahamdinejad would say that according to the Supreme Leader’s wishes and the authority they hold, Mr. Moslehi will remain minister, and I appreciate his place in the cabinet and will continue working with him,” Khatami stated.

He added that the clergy had supported Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 elections on the condition that he would end his association with Esfanidiar Rahim Mashai.

“Today the very clergy that supported Mr. Ahmadinejad is saying in unison, take heed of the deviatory movement,” the conservative cleric said, naming several senior Iranian clerics as critics of Ahmadinejad.