Detained American caught in the middle power struggle
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Iran’s start-and-stop announcements over the release of one of three detained Americans add up to a distinct message: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his allies still have a fight on their hands within the ruling ranks.
The confusing signals over the fate of 31-year-old Sarah Shourd – whose planned Saturday release was personally backed by Ahmadinejad – underscore the wider backlash to efforts at expanding his powers and sway over internal policies and Iran’s foreign affairs, analysts say.
It also points to one of the main fissures in Iran’s conservative leadership: Ahmadinejad and his allies against the powerful judiciary overseen by Iran’s supreme leader.
The judiciary head, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani apparently sees the detainees as his portfolio alone.
On Saturday, the judiciary’s website quoted Tehran’s chief prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, as saying none of the detained Americans would be released “until the end of the legal procedure” and stressed that Shourd would not receive special treatment despite reported health concerns, including a breast lump and precancerous cervical cells.