Rouhani is apparently threatened. By who?

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

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.