Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Ultra-conservative cleric Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi announced that he still supports Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, despite the president’s recent disputes with the Islamic Republic’s conservative elite.

In a sign of reconciliation between Ahmadinejad and Iran’s conservative elite, Mehr news agency reported that Ayatollah Mohammadtaghi Mesbah Yazdi, a powerful cleric in Qom’s seminary and one of the principle theorists of the Principalists, announced that he still stands behind the president.

Referring to his endorsement of Ahmadinejad in the 2009 presidential election, Yazdi said: “At that time, Ahmadinejad had to be supported against his opponents, and my support of him was an affirmation of the slogans and principles of the Islamic Revolution.”

Ahmadinejad’s victory in the 2009 presidential election was challenged by MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, his reformist opponents.

Ayatollah Yazdi added: “I still believe in Ahmadinejad and support him.”

These statements come after the senior cleric harshly criticized Ahmadinejad in May, suggesting that the president’s actions were “illogical and erratic” and bore the signs of “someone who was under a spell and not in control of his faculties.”

The criticisms came after Ahmadinejad shunned public duties for more than 10 days because Iran’s Supreme Leader overturned the president’s decision to change his Minister of Intelligence.

Following that episode, members of the president’s office became the target of repeated attacks by the Principalists. His chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, was deemed to be the leader of a “deviant current” trying to derail the Islamic Republic.

Several of Ahmadinejad’s allies have been arrested in recent months, which he finally protested, calling the arrests political and warning that the judiciary should not cross a red line and arrest members of his cabinet, or else he would reveal secrets that would be harmful to all.

However, the spokesman for the judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei has said that the course of justice will not be stopped by any red lines.