The strained relationship between Iran's President and Supreme Leader has gotten worse, after allies of the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were arrested on charges of being "magicians" and invoking bad spirits. The bad blood has led the president to declare a partial ban on his official duties, refusing to attend meetings and participate in government decisions.
Ahmadinejad's chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei was accused of invoking djinns (genies) and of promoting an "Iranian school," an abhorrent form of nationalism to right-wing clerics. Abbas Ghaffari, the former president of the National Iranian Oil Company and a close advisor of the president, was called "a man with special skills in metaphysics and connections with the unknown worlds," according to Iranian news site Ayandeh.
The tension first arose when Ahmadinejad tried to sack his intelligence minister following embarrassing revelations that the nation's spy service was monitoring the president's closest aide, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, vetoed the decision, prompting Ahmadinejad to skip out on two cabinet meetings and other functions.
After the event made headlines, Ahmadinejad attended a cabinet meeting Sunday and denied that there was any bad blood. "The relationship between the supreme leader and the president is that of a father and a son," the Fars News Agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying. However, recent events may spark more incidents.