One sign that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be on his way out as Iranian president is the fact that some of his associates have been arrested upon the charge of practicing “sorcery,” according to The Guardian.
“Several people said to be close to the president and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have been arrested in recent days and charged with being ‘magicians’ and invoking djinns (spirits).
“Ayandeh, an Iranian news website, described one of the arrested men, Abbas Ghaffari, as ‘a man with special skills in metaphysics and connections with the unknown worlds.'”
The real reason for the sudden arrests seems to derive from a power struggle between Ahmadinejad and the Iranian supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in which most political power in Iran is vested. Ahmadinejad has clashed with Khamenei on a number of occasions, most recently over the reinstatement of an intelligence chief the president had asked to resign.
Mashaei has especially irked the ruling mullahs by advocating a reduction in the influence of the Iranian clergy in the country’s public affairs. The Guardian suggests that Mashaei is being groomed to be Ahmadinejad’s successor.
There is a religious element to the political power struggle. Ahmadinejad is known to believe that the reappearance of a figure in Shiite Islam known as the “Mahdi” or “the Hidden Imam,” a 9th century figure said to have gone into hiding, is imminent. In Shia Islam, the reappearance of the Hidden Imam would herald the end of the world and the triumph of Islam throughout the world. This would be accompanied by war and violence on a level unprecedented in human history. The concept is similar to the idea of the Second Coming of Christ in the Christian faith.
Some of Iran’s clergy suggest that Ahmadinejad is being heretical by suggesting that the return of the Hidden Imam is coming soon, maintaining that no man can predict when this event will occur. Thus the power struggle in Iran takes on a religious element.
Ahmadinejad is behind the drive by Iran to develop nuclear weapons. A story in The Telegraph several years ago suggested that part of the motivation for the president’s attempt to obtain nuclear weapons is a desire to provoke a conflagration with Israel as a means to hasten the return of the Hidden Imam. One might speculate that by moving against Ahmadinejad’s associates, the mullahs are also attempting to forestall a reckless move that could result in the annihilation of the Iranian nation.
Sources: Ahmadinejad allies charged with sorcery, Saeed Kamali Dehghan, UK Guardian, May 5, 2011
‘Divine mission’ driving Iran’s new leader, Anton La Guardia ,UK Telegraph, January 14, 2006