The alleged fiery meeting occurred after street protests were violently put down in December 2009. Ahmadinejad said people needed to be given greater freedoms. Jafari said that Ahmadinejad was the source of the problems in Iran. And then he slapped the president. Both sides have denied the incident took place.
The leak allegedly came from the U.S. Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, from an office charged with watching Iran, an unnamed source giving the account of the slap up.
But an expert doubts that the incident ever happened.
Fox News asked former Iranian Diplomat Mehrdad Khonsari if he had heard of the incident. He said he had, but does not believe it to be true.
“I think it’s very unlikely that an incident of that nature would even occur. It’s not on the cards for the head of the Revolutionary Guards to slap a sitting president.”
Iran has a formal culture -- the language of deference and respect is ritualized and important. A slap in the face does not fit nicely into the playbook.
When asked about the reported infighting in Iran these days and the strength or weakness of the regime, Khonsari said, “It’s difficult to say how fragile it is because it is holding together. But the fact is that it has never been as fragile as this in the past 31 years.”
Khonsari also spoke about the defection or sidelining of elements of the opposition as well as the regime since the last presidential elections.
“What has taken place that is so dramatic since 2009 is that there has been defection from within the ranks of elements that had kept the regime together.”
Khonsari said that is something sanctions, international isolation, or the outcry of human rights groups around the world was never able to do.
The talk of the power of the Revolutionary Guard has been oversimplified by outsiders.
“There are factions within this whole body,” according to Khonsari, “who owe their allegiances to different people. Some are very closely allied to the Supreme Leader and Ahmadinejad. Some have a legacy of being connected to [former President] Rafsanjani. Some to former commanders of the Revolutionary Guard like Rezaie or Rahim Safavi.”
According to Khonsari, they control anywhere from 60%-70% of Iran’s economy, particularly through their companies and subsidiaries.
In the meantime, while some members of the Guard are reportedly disillusioned with what’s going on inside Iran, and the fact that they have had to crack down on students and young people, the Guard as a whole has been seen to benefit from Ahmadinejad’s presidency.
Amy Kellogg currently serves as a Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent based in the London bureau. She joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1999 as a Moscow-based correspondent. Follow her on Twitter: @kellogglondon