Tag Archives: Meshai

Iran Elections: Where an Old KIA Beats a Mercedes-Benz

22 May

Its official: Rafsanjani and Meshai are disqualified as candidates for the upcoming Iranian elections.

From now until election day, the supreme leader could best be described as the head of a panel of the talent show.


Iran Elections 2013 – Is Ayatollah Khamenei in Charge?

13 May

Many of us in the Iran analysis world are still trying to work out why is it that Esfandiyar Rahim Meshai and Rafsanjani registered for the elections when we know that Iran’s most powerful man Ayatollah Khamenei looks unfavorably upon them both.

Professor Gary Sick of Columbia University offers us his opinion about the possible reasons as part of this very interesting article:

“At this point, the most likely interpretation is that each of the candidates was in it for himself, and the Supreme Leader had very little to say about it.”

He goes on to say:

“The notion that the Supreme Leader is far less supreme than his clique would pretend is neither new nor surprising. But this apparent evidence that he is not only lacking in political clout but is in fact essentially irrelevant to the decision-making process is something new — especially if this plethora of candidates risks another train wreck of the magnitude of 2009.”

I take the opposite view to Gary’s.

I believe that Khamenei is still very much in charge and that both Meshai and Rafsanjani ran after receiving clearance from him.

In the case of Rafsanjani, the permission seems to have come close to the deadline for registration of candidates on Sunday. According to Fatemeh Rafsanjani (Ali Akbar Rafsanjani’s daughter):

“My father’s telephone rang at 17:15. He had a relatively short conversation. After that he came out of the room and said: Bism’allah, lets go”.

Fatemeh Rafsanjani refuses to say who the caller was. But its not difficult to guess. Rafsanjani had stated before that he would participate after hearing the supreme leader’s response. With 45 to go before the deadline, he received one phone call after which he decided to go ahead and register. That phone call could only have come from the supreme leader’s representatives, or himself.

Why allow them to run?

I believe that the supreme leader is carrying out some prudent risk management. Having stability before elections is key. The cost of telling Meshai and Rafsanjani not to run and all the ensuing distractions and noise which it would have created would have been unnecessary and avoidable. So why pay?

Furthermore, by allowing Meshai and Rafsanjani to run, that way the elections at least look inclusive of all factions. This would bring:

  1. stability before the elections.
  2. genuine voters to the ballot box
  3.  would unite the divided the conservatives as many are both against Rafsanjani and Meshai. It took one day after Rafsanjani’s registration for Velayati to attack him by saying that Rafsanjani had abandoned the leader during the disturbances of 2009. Soon after Meshai’s registration there were fist fights between his supporters and supporters of other conservative candidates at the registration office.

In the case of Rafsanjani participating, it would have the added advantage that his presence would weaken Meshai. I believe that Khamenei sees the latter as even more destabilizing than Rafsanjani. By bringing Rafsanjani, Meshai’s nationalistic rhetoric and his efforts to present himself as a moderate candidate would take a hit. Rafsanjani’s presence could definitely erode some of Meshai’s support among Iran’s urban population.

When it comes to his impact on Iranian politics and the elections process, it is my firm belief that Ayatollah Khamenei is firmly in charge, with the help of the IRGC.

Which is why for now I strongly believe that Saeed Jalili is the man to watch.

The rest make up parts of the opening act.

Iran 2013 Presidential Elections – Forget Rafsanjani and Meshai, Think Jalili

12 May

Saeed Jalili – The black mark on his forehead is self made, by pressing the head hard on the stone of Karbala while praying. Its supposedly a sign of piety and devotion.

Forget Rafsanjani, forget Meshai. There is very little chance that either would be picked for the post of presidency.

At best they’ll be qualified to run for the elections by the Guardian Council. But beyond that, they don’t stand much of a chance. Both men have made far too many enemies with far too many powerful people such as Ayatollah Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards.

If you are a betting person, for now, I’d say here are the odds for the likeliest candidate to be selected for the post of president in Iran.

The results below are based on the criteria which I believe the supreme leader is most likely to use to pick the next president (in consultation with other bodies inside the regime. However Khamenei will have the last word)

Most likely – current chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili

Second most likely – former parliament speaker Gholam Ali Hadad Adel

Third most likely – former foreign minister Velayati

Fourth most likely – current mayor  of Tehran Qalibaf

Iranian politics is very convoluted and fluid. Things change easily and quickly. So lets revise this list in a week and see what has changed.

Whats interesting is that hardly anyone noticed that the speaker of the Majles Ali Larijani decided not to run for elections – again.

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

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.


A 100,000 Strong Ahmadinejad Party In Tehran

3 Apr

According to the pro – Rafsanjani website “Entekhabat”, Ahmadinejed is preparing to bring 100,000 to a massive celebration at Tehran’s famous Azadi football stadium. The  official title of this event is to be “Nowruz journeys”.

The same report states that officially the government is saying that the main goal of this gathering will be to praise the committee for facilitating travel and transportation inside Iran for tourists, both domestic and foreign during the new year period. This includes transportation police, weather forecasting organizations as well as others.

According to ILNA, this event is to take place on the 15th of April this year.

However Entekhabat news believes there is something much more sinister about this major event:

به گزارش سرویس سیاسی «انتخاب» ؛  در حالی این جشن در مکانی نمادین همچون ورزشگاه آزادی برگزاری میشود که تنها حدود دو ماه پس از آن، انتخابات ریاست جمهوری برگزار خواهد شد. از این رو به نظر میرسد این برنامهبا هدفی انتخاباتی برگزار می شود.

Entekhabat believes that as this event is being planned two months before the presidential elections at a symbolic place such as the Azadi football stadium, it will have election related goals.

In other words, Ahmadinejad will use the event to promote his candidate Esfandiyar Rahim Meshai who Ahmadinejad has been grooming since 2010 to take over from him once he steps out of office.

Entekhabat is accusing the Ahmadinejad administration of being willing to pay people to turn up to the event. There is nothing new about this. Millions of Iranians are literally paid to turn up to the ballot box. Those who work for government have to turn up to rallies and to vote, otherwise they could lose their jobs. This is overseen by the government appointed “preservation” (حراست) departments which are available in all government organizations. Their job above all is “to guard the achievement of the revolution”. In other words to make sure everyone toes the party line. So voting is part of the government employee’s paid responsibility.

What really worries Ahmadinejad’s supporters, including Entekhab news is that at this gathering, traditional Iranian music will be played and emphasis will be placed on nationalism.

It says a lot when the regime is worried about a politician emphasizing the Iranian nature of Iran. It goes to show how the regime has failed and destroyed its system of “Islamic governance” which with its endemic corruption and abuse of human rights has little to do with Islam.

It says a lot more when every year, around the 12th of April (22nd day of Persian month of Farvardin) Ahmadinejad celebrated Iran’s nuclear achievement. This year no one is even noticing the arrival of this date, let alone planning to celebrate it. Perhaps they believe that there is nothing to celebrate. They would be right.