This footage shows that despite their previous closeness, a rift has grown between the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his one-time favorite, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, particularly after Khamenei rejected Ahmadinejad’s candidacy for the current presidential race, to which Ahmadinejad responded angrily, demanding to know who told Khamenei he should run the country.
In the first speech of three shown here, delivered a few years ago to a large audience of senior Iranian regime officials and loyal supporters, Khamenei spoke about another former president, the late Hashemi Rafsanjani; after completing his presidential term, Rafsanjani was appointed to lead the Expediency Council, the body tasked with resolving disputes between the country’s parliament and the Guardian Council, the post he held up until his death a few months ago from a heart attack at the age of 82.
In the first clip from a few years ago during Ahmadinejad’s time as president, Khamenei tells the assembled audience: “I should tell you that in many cases, myself and Hashem Rafsanjani both had differences of opinion. However, there were also disagreements between Hashemi Rafsanjani and the president [Ahmadinejad] from the start, from the presidential election in 2005 up to the present day. They have disagreements of opinion both in the areas of foreign affairs and cultural issues, as the opinion of the president is closer to my own than to Hashemi Rafsanjani’s opinion.”
The next clip in the sequence shows the Supreme Leader beaming admiringly and acting in a friendly manner towards Ahmadinejad as Khamenei addresses other regime officials sitting around them, saying: “I wish to God that He will help you guys to keep up with Ahmadinejad’s fast feet in doing his job. It’s really a tough job to keep up with him; he tries hard, he works hard and, thanks to God, he’s full of energy. Although his appearance doesn’t seem that he’s like that, but thanks to God, if God wills, he could help more and give us more energy and give more power to us.”
In the third clip, Khamenei’s praise for his protégé is more moderate, with the Supreme Leader saying: “Well, one of the slogans of this government [Ahmadinejad’s administration] is ‘justice’. Well, there’s no doubt that justice was an axis of the Islamic revolution and there’s no government that’s come to power which has said explicitly that it doesn’t want to act based on justice. But here I want to take this chance to thank Mr. Ahmadinejad for acting on the axis of justice, and for setting justice as the slogan at the center of his plan, so this was a great job. I was telling my family that even Mr. Ahmadinejad won’t be able to obtain the votes for the presidency, but at least he was able to propose a slogan of acting based upon justice. He did not allow this slogan that was raised by the revolution to be forgotten. And such forgetfulness has become customary, so he proposed this slogan and fortunately people liked it and voted for him.