Iran’s ruling elite use earthquake relief effort for political infighting

File photo of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (L) with president Rouhani. According to Iran's Constitution, the Supreme Leader is responsible for supervision of "the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran," which means that he sets the tone and direction of Iran's domestic and foreign policies. The Supreme Leader also is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and controls the Islamic Republic's intelligence and security operations; he alone can declare war or peace. He is also the supreme commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. While Khamanei was appointed and supervised by the Assembly of Experts, Rouhani was is his subordinate was elected directly by the people of Iran
File photo of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (L) with president Rouhani. According to Iran’s Constitution, the Supreme Leader is responsible for supervision of “the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” which means that he sets the tone and direction of Iran’s domestic and foreign policies. The Supreme Leader also is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and controls the Islamic Republic’s intelligence and security operations; he alone can declare war or peace. He is also the supreme commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. While Khamanei was appointed and supervised by the Assembly of Experts, Rouhani was is his subordinate was elected directly by the people of Iran

Political infighting among Iran’s ruling elite has moved on to a new battleground – the relief effort after an earthquake that killed at least 530 people and injured thousands.

Hardline media are accusing the government of pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani of reacting too slowly to last weekend’s quake, while highlighting aid work by the Revolutionary Guards – a rival power center.

While the government said enough help had been sent to the thousands of people left homeless by the devastation, media affiliated to Rouhani’s hardline rivals painted a different picture with reports from villages where survivors complained about a lack of shelter from the bitter cold.

Rouhani allies say this reflects a long-running struggle between the president and those who oppose his drive to boost the economy by improving relations with the outside world, notably through sealing a nuclear deal with world powers.

“Rouhani is very popular,” one Rouhani ally told Reuters. “It is so sad to see that even under these sad circumstances when we need unity, they are attacking his government and trying to say that the government is incompetent to help people.”

Shortly after the magnitude 7.3 quake, Iran’s worst in more than a decade, state TV aired scenes from the devastated villages in the western Kermanshah province.

Iran has so far declined offers of foreign assistance, saying planeloads of tents, blankets, mattresses and emergency food rations had arrived in areas where at least 30,000 houses have been damaged and several villages completely destroyed.

The hardline semi-official Tasnim and Fars news agencies both carried reports of the role of the Revolutionary Guards – an elite force loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – and its affiliated Basij militia force in helping the survivors.