0710 GMT. The Battle Within. Challenges to the Ahmadinejad Government by Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani are far from new. Given that Larijani and his brothers have been accused of corruption by the President, the Speaker is not exactly fond of Ahmadinejad, who defeated him in the 2005 Presidential election. Larijani has been especially critical of his rival on the economic front, making the provocative claim that sanctions are only 20% responsible for Iran's problems --- the other 80% comes from Government mismanagement. Meanwhile, the Parliament has been locked in a months-long battle with Ahmadinejad, trying to block the second phase o f his subsidy cuts programme.
So it is not surprising that Larijani returned to these themes on Saturday. He said the Supreme Leader did not support the new stage of the subsidy cuts. He contested Ahmadinejad's attempt to merge the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Roads and Transport, putting his ally Ali Nikzad in charge of a new "super-ministry" of Infrastructure.
There was a notable addition to Larijani's challenge, however. The Speaker jumped into the recent dispute within the regime over the treatment of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, held under strict house arrest for almost two years.
Larijani defended the senior politician Habibollah Asgarouladi, who has suggested that the situation of Mousavi and Karroubi may be re-considered as they are not "seditionists". Asgarouladi has been under fire by other politicians and clerics for those remarks, but Larijani intervened, "These words have also been said by the Supreme Leader."
The Speaker continued, "If Mousavi and Karroubi accept their mistakes, no one can stop them from returning to the stage."EA WorldView: EA Iran