According to yesterday’s edition of the Sunday Times:
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”.
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.