And today a senior Iranian official called Israel a “cancer”

Ali Larijani

Yesterday I published an article in Al Monitor about a recent series of positive gestures between the Iranian and Israeli governments.

Today Iran’s parliamentary spokesman Ali Larijani got on the podium at the ceremony marking the new Tunisian constitution, and called Israel a “cancer”.

He also accused the US of trying to “sterilize” the Arab Spring revolutions”, thus causing a walkout by the US delegation.

Ali Larijani is supposed to be a moderate conservative. I expected this sort of behavior from Ahmadinejad, not him.

How does Mr Larijani expect the international community to behave towards the Iranian regime and the government after such behaviour at a ceremony in another country? What has Tunisia got to do with Israel?

With reference to the new positive signs emanating from Iran,  yesterday I wrote in my Al Monitor piece that:

Or it may be that we are about to see a new strategy, whereby to maintain domestic support among conservatives Khamenei continues with his attacks against Israel and his denial of the Holocaust. But the government, to improve Iran’s standing abroad, tries to subtly send messages of goodwill while recognizing the Holocaust.

Based on his statement today, it seems that Larijani wants to belong to Khamenei camp.
I understand that. In Iran much of the politics is based on domestic political interests. When it comes to domestic influence, this camp has the strongest power base. At the same time, when it comes to understanding the West, this camp is the weakest. And with Larijani’s behaviour today, it could be this camp that justifies the continuation of sanctions and the isolation of the regime to the point where its economy enters a free fall.
And if we needed a reminder why the Iranian regime must not be allowed to have nuclear weapons, then today Ali Larijani gave us another one.
The motto on top of Israel’s Ministry of Defense building should say:
“With Iranian politicians , we will succeed”.

Is Ali Larijani about to join the presidential race? Iran 2013 presidential elections

Iran’s former foreign minister and 2013 presidential candidate Ali Akbar Velayati announced today that a 4th person could join the 3 member coalition of candidates to which he belongs for the upcoming presidential elections.

This coalition currently consists of Velayati, current Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and former Majles speaker Gholam Ali Hadad Adel. As I wrote in my latest piece for Al Monitor, I believe that for now Hadad Adel has the strongest chance of winning the elections.

The question is: who could this 4th person be?

Velayati said that a number of people have already asked to join the coalition. He did not say who and why they were rejected.

However he made this interesting statement:

وی با اشاره به شرایط ورود به ائتلاف سه‌گانه تصریح کرد: اصولگرایی و اعتقاد به مبانی جمهوری اسلامی هم در قول و هم در فعل در راس شرایط پیوستن به ائتلاف 1+2 است؛ همچنین ائتلاف سه گانه اصولگرایان تاکید ویژه‌ای بر حضور افرادی با کارنامه درخشان همراه با رضایت آحاد ملت در طول خدمت خود به نظام جمهوری اسلامی دارد و بنابراین حضور افراد ذی‌صلاح در ائتلاف سه‌گانه منتفی نیست.

Translation: He (Velayati) referred to the conditions for entry into the 3 member coalition as being a principalist, belief in the foundations of the Islamic republic both in promise and deed as being the most important. The 3 member coalition of principalist emphasizes presence of persons with a shining track record who have served the Islamic republic with the satisfaction of the people during their tenure. Therefore the presence of competent persons in the 3 member coalition of the principlaists camp is not ruled out.

There are a number of persons who belong to the principalist camp, however the one person who I think fits the qualifications described by Velayati the most is current speaker of the parliament Ali Larijani.

He is a well known member of the Principalist camp, has been part of the system for a long time, is well connected (his brother is head of the judiciary) while he himself has been increasing his grass root support by being a the speaker of the parliament.

As with many other things related to Iranian politics, only time will tell. But I think the 4th person could well be Ali Larijani.