Tag Archives: 2013 Iranian presidential elections

Rouhani is apparently threatened. By who?

24 Mar

According to yesterday’s edition of the Sunday Times:

Iranian regime hardliners have warned President Rouhani that he risks being overthrown unless he delivers a favourable nuclear deal with the West within months.

After barely six months in office, during which he has won rave reviews abroad, Mr Rouhani is fending off threats from conservatives at home who are threatening to organise demonstrations against his Government and even to impeach him.

The rest of the article is behind a paywall. But from what we can see, this threat was delivered in December by “a group of former commanders in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards”.

My take:

Rouhani is and has been under a lot of pressure from the IRGC.

But what we need to know is: who are these former IRGC commanders who threatened him? Because not all former commanders carry the same political weight.

For example, if Yahya Safavi was there, then the threat would be very serious, because he is now an adviser to the supreme leader.

Was former IRGC air force commander Mohamad Bagher Qalibaf in the group? That would also signify an important threat. He was a runner up in the 2014 presidential elections and is currently the Tehran Mayor. Although he does not carry as much weight as  Safavi, because of the latter’s proximity to the supreme leader.

We don’t know. And until we know exactly who was there,  it will be difficult to decide how serious such a threat is.

The threat also shows how much pressure Rouhani is under at home.

According to the report, the group threatened to overthrow Rouhani: “unless he delivers a favourable nuclear deal with the West within months”. The “within a few months” part is very interesting. It could be a sign that the regime is under more economic pressure than we realized.

Would a group of former IRGC commanders be able to overthrow Rouhani? Not without the supreme leader’s permission. And for now, that seems unlikely. Having the head of the government overthrown before his term ends would make the regime look unstable, something which the supreme leader would likely to want to avoid as much as possible.

Making the president politically toothless until his term ends and then ensuring that he nor his allies win the next elections is much more the Iranian supreme leader’s style. Thats if he decides to end Rouhani’s political career in the government.

A surprise called Hassan Rowhani

16 Jun

Rowhani’s victory was an absolute surprise. To me, as well as other Iran watchers, it was unexpected. 

Here are my own reasons as why I did not see it coming.

Prior to the elections, to me, Rowhani came across as a candidate who would win the highest number of genuine votes.

As I mentioned in my post “Iran Elections and Hypocrisy in the Iranian Diaspora Community” a day before the elections:

“Rowhani getting more votes than others is very probable”.

But I did not think that Rowhani would be allowed to win by Khamenei and the IRGC, which is why I gave him less than 10% chance of winning in my estimate, written on the 11th of June.

It very much seemed that these elections would be controlled, again.

This was due to several reasons:

First there were the cheatings in the 2009 elections. Add to that were Rowhani’s calls for improved relations with the West during the debates, which went contrary to the supreme leader’s calls for a tougher stand.

Then there was also the ceaseless attacks from the conservative press which came out against him during the presidential debates. When put all together, it was very difficult to see him being allowed to win.

They cheated against Mousavi and Karroubi, they disqualified Rafsanjani, why should they allow Rowhani to win? was the logic. And by they I meant the supreme leader, assisted by the IRGC.

And now that he has won, we have to think why and what changes can he bring? would he be able to release Mousavi and Karroubi? could he bring any change to Iran’s human rights record? can he convince Khamenei to answer the IAEA’s question. Lets see.

Never a boring moment in this job.

On Iran election day, Obama decides to arm Syrian rebels

14 Jun

Voting has now finished in Iran. Lets see what happens. I already addressed the different scenarios which I believe could happen in these elections. Lets see where reality takes us. Apart from that, I prefer to wait until tomorrow when the results are announced before I write more about these elections.

There was another Iran related news today which is worth noting, and thats the decision by the US government to arm Syrian rebels.

As if Ayatollah Khamenei did not have enough on his plate.

When providing these weapons, the US is unlikely to just give them away. There will be conditions attached. One of them is likely to be: go after Hezbollah operatives in Syria.

Most probably, as far as the US is concerned, its payback time for all the support Hezbollah and Iran gave to Iraqi Shiite militias in Iraq to kill US soldiers there.

There is also the weakening of Iran’s hand in the region.

Considering that the Iranian regime is under sanctions, the US will try to make the Syrian conflict as expensive as possible for the regime. By giving weapons to Syrian rebels, Iran now has to match US support for rebels with additional support for Assad. Syria is about to become an even bigger money pit for the Iranian regime and that will do just fine for Obama.

Some people believe that the Iranian regime pushed Assad to use chemical weapons. I believe the opposite. The Iranian regime is well aware of the costs such a decision would bring – and has brought. In all likelihood it will now press Assad harder not to repeat such a mistake.

US decides to arm Syria rebels on the same day as Iran elections. Let the conspiracy theories begin. There is no shortage of them in this region.

Oh by the way: how do you say in Arabic “not to be used against Israeli soldiers and territory”? because I am sure the weapons being given to the Syrian rebels will come with these strict instructions. Right president Obama?

Estimates for the upcoming 2013 Iran Presidential elections

11 Jun

Iranian politics is notoriously difficult to predict. This is especially true with regards to elections, which these days are increasingly managed by the regime, as we found out in 2009.

However, it is important to try and see where things are likely to go in the elections, based on one’s own perceptions, assumptions and reading of the regime.

If you get it right, then great. If you get it wrong, then afterwards at least you have a reference point to go back to to see where and how you went wrong. What assumptions you should have made but didn’t, who in the regime you should have listened to instead, and what clues you missed (among other things).

So here is how I believe (and assume) that things will turn out in the upcoming Iranian elections.

If a clear winner is determined in the first round, it is my estimate that Qalibaf has the biggest chance of winning. Reason? because between the conservatives when it comes to being a technocrat, he is seen as being the most competent. On top of that, and more importantly, he has good relations with Khamanei and parts of IRGC senior leadership.

If there is no clear winner in the first round and elections go into a second round,


Jalili is in the second round runoffs , he would win against any candidate. Reason? because Khamenei and the IRGC have decided that its more important for them to have a yes man. It would be difficult to convince the public that Jalili genuinely won  majority of votes in the 1st round (because he is unknown). So in order to shore up his legitimacy a second round is needed.

Or if:

– Qalibaf is in the run off and its not Jalili who he is running against, then Qalibaf would win. Reason? Khamenei and the IRGC believe that having a runoff is important to boost the legitimacy of the elections by making them look like a tight race. Letting Qalibaf win under such a scenario would enable them to strike two targets with one stone: giving them the already mentioned advantages of Qalibaf, plus more legitimacy for the elections process.

There is very little chance that Rowhani would win the elections (less than 10%). Reason? He views re: relations with West and need for compromise over the nuclear program to save Iran’s economy are out of line with that of the supreme leader and the IRGC.

The election’s dark horse: Mohsen Rezai. In my opinion, between all candidates, the one who could surprise us like Ahmadinejad did in 2005 elections is him. His combative style regarding the economy and its problems could have won him more support than we realize.

Now lets see where I have gotten it wrong, or right. Time will tell.

Tehran Mayor a Powerful Contender For Iran’s Presidency Read more

1 Jun

The powerful Revolutionary Guards Quds force commander has said that his vote will go to Tehran Mayor Qalibaf. This is just one example of his latest endorsements.
My latest article discusses why Qalibaf is a serious contender.

TV Panel – Iranian politics: Who is pulling the strings?

28 May

Professor Sadegh Zibakalam

In my opinion, one of the best political analysts in Iran is Professor Sadegh Zibakalam. I always make sure to read his articles and interviews in Persian. He is very knowledgeable and pragmatic in his political ideas and points of view.

Thankfully, he also speaks English. He recently took part in a TV panel on Al Jazeera English  about the upcoming elections in Iran. I did not want you to miss it.

My friend and colleague Kelly Golnoush Niknejadalso took part. Her expertise and knowledge added more value and insight to what is a very important subject. For those interested in Iranian politics, this panel is a must watch.

Iran: Not Your Average North Tehran Voter

27 May

With the Iranian presidential elections around the corner, some will be wondering: how much genuine support does the current regime in Iran really have?  who are the people who would support it? from what background do they come from? what would be their religious and political beliefs?

The regime in Iran has been losing popularity and legitimacy over the years, for various reasons. Failing to live up to the promises of the revolution would be one, if not the biggest reason. Today, compared to the period prior to the revolution Iran is a poorer, more corrupt and more isolated country. Human rights abuses have only worsened. So when it comes to regime claims that it has the support of the majority of the people, be skeptical. Be very skeptical.

However there are those in the opposition who say that the regime has no genuine support among the people. They are wrong as well. There are people who genuinely still believe in the revolution.

The excellent documentary below by Al Jazeera provides us with a snapshot of who these people are. Its well made, well researched and provides us with an important opportunity to get to know them and their beliefs. Its a must watch. Please feel free to share with friends who are interested in Iranian politics and society.