The Ayatullah vs. The President

The two most powerful men in Tehran are locked in a power struggle that will have a serious impact on the way Iran deals with the West / AFP/Getty Images

From friends to foes. Ahmadinejad's attempt to promote civilian, Islamist prerogatives at the expense of the clergy's authority ran afoul of Khamenei, the theocracy's Supreme Leader.

The invective and the encomiums from the white-bearded speaker echoed almost like ritual as thousands of Iranians gathered at Tehran University on Feb. 3 for a Friday prayer marking the 33rd anniversary of the country's Islamic revolution. Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei, who has presided over such ceremonies for 23 years, railed against threats from Israel and the U.S. and praised the country's nuclear program, all to the thundering approval of the masses below his podium.

Then his speech took an unexpected turn toward the parliamentary elections coming up on March 2. "Officials shouldn't be fooled by the conspiracies of the...

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