The mullahs who hate Mad Mahmoud dream of genies. And not the Barbara Eden kind, unfortunately.

Close allies of Iran‘s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have been accused of using supernatural powers to further his policies amid an increasingly bitter power struggle between him and the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Several people said to be close to the president and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have been arrested in recent days and charged with being “magicians” and invoking djinns (spirits).

Ayandeh, an Iranian news website, described one of the arrested men, Abbas Ghaffari, as “a man with special skills in metaphysics and connections with the unknown worlds”.

Meanwhile, Mahmoud went back to work after an ineffective one-man strike to protest the mullahs’ rehiring of the state intelligence chief that he, Mahmoud, had fired. His power does seem to be breaking while the mullahs appear at this point poised to win. As for using the supernatural to keep him in power, it doesn’t take a genie to stuff ballot boxes.