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Ahmadinejad's Grip

Neil MacFarquhar has a sobering piece in today's NYT about the extent to which Ahmadinejad stacked the government's power centers with his allies:

[H]e entered the presidency with a coterie of veterans and ideologues shaped by the Iran-Iraq war who were conservative, religious, largely populist and disdainful of the old guard from the 1979 revolution.

Today, these allies, many of them former midlevel Revolutionary Guard officers in their 50s, run the Interior, Intelligence and Justice Ministries. They also include the commander of the Basij popular militia, the head of the National Security Council and the head of state-run broadcasting. They are aligned with another member of their generation who has emerged as the most important figure in the Khamenei camp, the spiritual leader’s son, Mojtaba Khamenei.

Mr. Ahmadinejad has also changed all 30 of the country’s governors, all the city managers and even third- and fourth-level civil servants in important ministries like the Interior Ministry. It was Interior that announced that Mr. Ahmadinejad had won the June 12 election with just 5 percent of the votes counted, analysts pointed out, and it is the Intelligence Ministry that has been rounding up scores of supporters of the reform candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, and other dissidents.

 --Jason Zengerle