Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei steps deeper into the political fray

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But Mr. Ahmadinejad seems to be suiting up for a pre-election scrap. Last week, he led gatherings that were interpreted as unofficial campaign events for his top aide, Esfandiari Rahim Mashaei, in an apparent challenge to election-vetting authorities who either have to clear him or reject him.

Mr. Ahmadinejad “is a political figure who has some residual popular base, a political infrastructure, who knows where all the bodies are buried and is very eager to talk,” said Ms. Maloney, the Brookings analyst. “That makes Ahmadinejad the most dangerous man in the Islamic Republic.”

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