Tag Archives: Iran 2013 presidential elections

2013 Iran Elections – Exciting Times Ahead

12 May

Rafsanjani and Meshai had me on the edge of my seat today.  

Talk about marketing. These guys really know how to sell themselves. Waiting until the very last minute before registering really does grab the headlines. Or maybe they have been taking time keeping lessons from Axl Rose. Who knows? Either way, the tension was really high.

It seems that I offended some people by insinuating that the upcoming elections will be a free and fair competition between the candidates.

I don’t believe that for a minute.

Rather, I believe that the decision will ultimately be made by Khamenei in consultation with other unelected groups within the regime.

Nevertheless, I standby what I said: these will be exciting elections.

The reason being that the presence of different factions such as Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad’s ally Meshai plus other conservatives will lead to interesting discussions and debates.

And these debates will provide us with an interesting insight into the regime and the different discourses that are taking place within it.

Looking forward to every article, every speech, every interview that will be printed, aired and broadcast about the upcoming Iranian elections.

Update: after Meshai declared his candidacy, fights broke out between his bodyguards and one of his opponents, right next to Ahmadinejad. See the photos here

On Reports of Ahmadinejad’s Arrest

1 May

Approximately five hours after I published my article “Could Ahmadinejad End Up Under House Arrest?” for Al Monitor, Reza Kahlili, published an article in which he said that  Ahmadinejad had in fact been temporarily arrested on Monday. According to his “exclusive” article:

“After his visit to Tehran’s 26th international book fair Monday, the source said the head of Ahmadinejad’s security team informed the Iranian president that he had been asked to appear at the supreme leader’s office for an urgent matter.”

This story was taken up later by Las Vegas’s Guardian Express (no connections with the London Guardian).

My Take

Kahlili who according to his bio is a former CIA agent in Iran has given us false alarms before. In January this year,  Kahlili and the US based blogger Richard Silverstein both claimed a “scoop” about a mysterious explosion in Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility. Kahlili claimed that his source was a “former intelligence officer of the Iranian regime” while Silverstein claimed that he has a “highly placed Israeli source”. Both stories turned out to be bogus. According to the IAEA which inspects Fordow, there was no such explosion. It was a hoax.

Based on this and on Kahlili’s other highly questionable reports (this one about Iran working on a nuclear warhead, something which goes against the IDF intelligence assessment  that Iran has not yet decided to make a bomb), I would not give credibility to his latest report.

If and when Kahlili’s claims are corroborated by a more credible source, then I would take them seriously.

Update: as spotted by Ashkan Safaei who is a former broadcast journalist at Israel’s state Radio, Ahmadinejad was not at the Tehran book fair on Monday as Kahlili claims. He was there on Tuesday, as corroborated by local news reports.

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

18 Apr

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.

Why Khatami may be allowed to run – Iran 2013 Presidential Elections

17 Apr

I believe that the chances of Mohammad Khatami being allowed to run as a candidate are increasing. So much so that I would say it is now a viable possibility.

But why would Khamenei allow him to run? He made life very difficult for Khatami when he was president. Khamenei has always had a bad relationship with the reformists, so why would he even consider allowing Khatami to stand as a candidate?

In my opinion, it would be for the following reasons, in descending order:

  1. Reduce support for Esfandiyar Rahim Meshai. Between Meshai and Khatami, the former is far more dangerous as a possible destabilizing factor. Meshai’s slogan in the elections would be nationalistic slogans such as “Iranian – Islam” and calls for improved relations with other countries. After all Meshai did say that people of Israel are not the enemies of the people of Iran, something which Khamenei resented and denied publicly. As reformists also want better relations with the West, Khatami’s participation could dilute the attractiveness of Meshai’s messages to the middle class.
  2. Weaken the voice of those who want Rafsanjani to participate. Between Rafsanjani and Khatami, the former is a bigger threat and challenge to Khamenei’s nuclear and foreign policies. There are increasing number of voices who want Rafsanjani to participate as a “moderating force”. If Khatami is allowed to run, this could dilute the legitimacy of such calls as Khatami is known for wanting better relations with the West, more so than Rafsanjani.
  3. Could boost the legitimacy of the elections. No one is expecting these elections to be fair, especially not after the IRGC said they would be “engineered”. Nevertheless, it is in the interest of Khamenei that people turn out to vote. If Khatami is allowed to run (even though he is unlikely to be allowed to win) he could boost the legitimacy of the elections by increasing the number of genuine voters.
  4. Khatami is too much of an intellectual to challenge Khamenei. It would be easier for Khamenei to arrange cheatings against Khatami as unlike Mousavi, he is unlikely to call for recount or demonstrations once he loses (something which Khamenei is ultimately almost definitely going to ensure).

I would the chances of Khatami standing as a candidate are currently at 30%.

Last week they were 5%.

Khamenei’s Criteria For the Next Iranian President

8 Apr

The next Iranian presidential elections are scheduled to be held on the 14th of June.

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei made a mistake by choosing Ahmadinejad in the 2009 elections.

Based on his goals, challenges and experiences, my latest article explains the criteria which he is likely to use to choose Iran’s next president.