The falling out between the ayatollah and the man who was long considered to be his political front man seems to stem as much from a reaction to Ahmadinejad’s flamboyant style and open messianism as the personal struggle for power. Ahmadinejad’s religious extremism is such that it may scare even the ruthless and tyrannical mullahs who have always been the real brokers in Iran since its Islamic revolution. While the supreme leader has a post that is thought to be permanent, presidents have come and gone. But, as the stolen 2009 election that led to riots in Tehran showed, Ahmadinejad has no intention of going anywhere.
Were the Holocaust-denying Ahmadinejad to be forced out, that might be seen as a victory for moderation. But the only real difference on the big issues between him and Khamenei appears to be a function of public relations. The ayatollah is no moderate on either nukes or terrorism.