Much as we loathe Iran's Amadinejad, the mullahs abhor him even more...
As Iran spins into chaos, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reportedly arrested for inciting unrest in the city of Shiraz, home of the wine of the same name, after he made a speech in Bushehr, home of Iran's nuclear reactor.
Apparently, he'd joined an opposition rally and complained about mullah corruption:
According to al-Quds al-Arabi, Ahmadinejad said:
"Some of the current officials live away from the problems of the people and concerns, and do not know anything about the reality of society," adding that "what it suffers Iran today is mismanagement and not lack of economic resources. "
"The government of Hassan Rowhani believes that they own the land and that the people are a ignorant society that does not know," Ahmadinejad said. "The people are angry at this government because of its monopoly on public wealth."
Which sounds about right for the purposes of the rally.
What's likely to cheese the mullahs off is that Ahmadinejad has always been considered a "working class" Iranian. He's lined his pockets like the rest of them but he came from working class stock and gave the appearance of an austere lifestyle dating from his time as mayor of Tehran. His Member's Only jacket, as well as his sloppy back-slapping friendship with the late Venezuelan Marxist-populist dictator, Hugo Chavez, during his 2005-2013 presidency, endeared him to the Iranian "street." Today's protests are working class in character and motivated by bread and butter issues. Obviously, Ahmadinejad saw his opportunity.
Because Ahmadinejad has actually been on the outs with the mullahs for at least a year now, which would work to his advantage. Earlier this year, in April, he was banned from running for president by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, but did so anyway. After that, he was brought up on corruption charges stemming from misuse of public funds, and at last report, faced sentencing, something he apparently managed to get out of by the time of the protests.
He's obviously someone the mullahs consider a troublemaker.
It's hard to imagine this guy as popular, given his previous collaborations with the regime, his ruinous presidency, and his Chavista socialist perspective. But Iran lacks visible opposition leaders and he may be trying to persuade Iranians he's a 'new Mahmoud.'
What the whole thing tells us is that the mullahs fear Ahmadinejad in all his working-class glory, meaning, yes, the ongoing Iranian revolt really is working class in character, it's not just anedcotal.
Let's hope they all go down together.