Political Rift Weakens Ahmadinejad
Ayatollah overrules Iranian president on gas for villagers
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2008 5:57 AM CST
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures as he greets supporters. Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has delivered a humiliating rebuke over his response to the suffering of the nation's poorest...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Iran's firebrand president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suffered a serious political humiliation  yesterday when the nation's supreme leader sided with his opponents to force him to supply a billion dollars worth of natural gas to remote villages suffering power cuts. Iran's poorest communities are enduring one of the harshest winters in years, reports the Guardian.

Ahmadinejad came to power on a platform of economic justice and enjoyed a close alliance with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but that key relationship now appears fractured. Just days ago, Khamenei had only faint praise for a government he once vociferously supported. "The government has certain unique characteristics, but like any other government there are mistakes and shortcomings," he said.