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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Who Will Be Iran's Next President?

Published 6 January 2013

Wanted: A few good men to run for Iranian president. Candidates must have strong management skills and commitment to Islamic and revolutionary values. Applicants who are unwaveringly loyal and fully obedient to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, exhibit strong anti-Western leanings, and can present a documented history of hard-line political and religious views will receive preference. All entries will be vetted by the Guardians Council. Oppositionists need not apply.

These are among the traits and qualifications expected of candidates who plan to run in Iran's June 14 presidential election, according to Iran observers and comments coming from within the supreme leader's inner circle.

In November, the supreme leader's representative in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Hojatoleslam Ali Saeedi, listed management skills and revolutionary and Islamic values as prerequisites for "suitable and competent" candidates.

Iran observers have narrowed the list further, saying the contest will essentially be waged among traditionalists and the new guard within the conservative camp. Reformists or figures close to outgoing President Mahmud Ahmadinejad are given virtually no chance to win, if they choose to throw their hats into the ring at all.

As Washington D.C.-based political analyst Ali Afshari put its, the Islamic regime is looking for a more civilized Ahmadinejad -- that is, in the mold of the current president before he began challenging the supreme leader.

There is a long way to go before a comprehensive and official candidates list can be compiled -- none is yet confirmed -- but names are already being floated. Eventually, according to Habibollah Asgarolad, secretary-general of Iran's Islamic Coalition Party, there will be 40 potential candidates, with 25 from the conservative camp.

So, knowing the qualifications expected and the likely introduction of electoral reforms that could weed out many potential candidates, who is poised to contend? Here's a rundown.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari


A FAVORITE: Forty-seven-year-old Said Jalili is currently Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and a special representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He represents the second generation of Islamic revolutionaries who fought during the Iran-Iraq war. Jalili, who lost his leg in the war, is relatively young, a characteristic said to be desired by Khamenei. He is a hard-liner and has reputedly gained the supreme leader's trust. In recent months, several websites have been set up in support of Jalili's candidacy and there have been reports that the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has asked him to run.


A FAVORITE: Akbar Velayati, 67, is a former foreign minister and Khamenei's senior adviser on international affairs. Velayati reportedly has the support of many influential figures in the conservative camp. He gave up plans to contest the 2005 presidential vote after former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani announced plans to run. In August, "Entekhab" reported that Velayati had tasked some of his close friends to manage his election campaign. The launch in 2012 of his personal website led to increased speculation about his political ambitions.


Velayati studied pediatrics in Iran and then specialized in infectious diseases at Baltimore's John Hopkins University in the 1970s. He was recently quoted as saying that he is aware of the speculation about his political ambitions. "If in the future I make a decision in this regard, then I will comment about it," he told the hard-line website Mashreghnews.


A FAVORITE: Fifty-four-year-old Ali Larijani is a former nuclear negotiator who currently serves as parliament speaker. He is believed to be close to Khamenei. Larijani was quoted by "Tasnimnews" in late December as saying that he would not run for president, but observers are not so sure. In a September interview with the "Financial Times," Larijani said, "There are various politicians on the scene now who are preparing [for the election] and I am watching to see who is more successful."


Well-known Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji has said there can be no doubt about Larijani's intentions to run for president. "He has begun his campaign inside and outside Iran," Ganji wrote in comments published by RFE/RL's Radio Farda in late 2012. He added that it was not clear whether Larijani was Khamenei's preferred candidate. Larijani garnered less than 6 percent of the vote in the 2005 presidential election that brought Ahmadinejad to power and failed to reach the second round.


A FAVORITE: Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, born in 1945, is a former parliament speaker and Khamenei adviser whose daughter is married to one of the supreme leader's sons. Adel has held a number of government posts, including deputy minister of Islamic guidance and deputy minister of education. Adel has said previously that he would run for president one day, even if he received "only one vote."


A DARK-HORSE CANDIDATE: Fifty-one-year-old Mohammad Baher Qalibaf (shown here on the left with Ahmadinejad), is a former senior IRGC commander and the mayor of Tehran since 2005. He is considered a moderate conservative. He is reportedly attracting growing support within the clerical establishment because of his management skills. One analyst in Tehran has described him as a man of action who has managed to improve the capital's image. He took just under 14 percent of the vote in the 2005 presidential poll, failing to reach the second round.


A DARK-HORSE CANDIDATE: Mohsen Rezai, born in 1954, is a former senior IRGC commander. He ran in the 2009 presidential election, garnering less than 2 percent of the vote, after running a campaign that blasted Ahmadinejad's mismanagement of the economy. Rezai is not considered a strong or charismatic candidate.


A DARK-HORSE CANDIDATE: Mostafa Pourmohammadi, born in 1959, is a former interior minister who currently heads the Organization of National Inspection. The cleric has been accused of playing a key role in the mass executions of thousands of political prisoners in the 1980s. "Hamshahrionline" has quoted him as saying that Iranians will have to wait until registration time to discover if he's running or not.


A DARK-HORSE CANDIDATE: Mohammad Saidi Kia officially became the first potential presidential candidate in late December when he publicly announced his intention to enter the race. Kia, who was born in 1947, is not a well-known figure but has said his experience and management skills make him ideally suited for the presidency. Kia served as housing minister during Ahmadinejad's first term in office and was transportation and roads minister under Prime Minister Mir Hossein Musavi and President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. While Kia's career history places him in the conservative camp, he has said he plans to run as an independent and will rely on contributions from the public to finance his campaign.


AHMADINEJAD'S CAMP: Hard-liners have expressed concern that the outgoing president could try to retain power by backing a loyal candidate who would then stand down to allow Ahmadinejad to make another run for office in the future. Under this Putin-Medvedev scenario, one name that keeps cropping up is Ahmadinejad's controversial right-hand man, 52-year-old Esfandiari Rahim Mashaei. In November, Iranian websites quoted Mashaei as saying he would run in the presidential election and that "nobody can stop me." His office has dismissed the report, saying he has not commented on the presidential election in any private meeting on either his behalf or of other candidates. Nevertheless, his resignation as Ahmadinejad's chief of staff has intensified speculation that he is preparing to campaign.


Mashaei is considered the main theoretician of Ahmadinejad's camp and is a hated figure among hard-liners, who have accused him of being the main figure of a "deviant current" that threatens the foundation of the clerical establishment. One lawmaker said in December that Mashaei has already begun his campaign.


AHMADINEJAD'S CAMP: Ahmadinejad's new chief of staff, Hassan Musavi, is also being floated as a potential candidate. Musavi, who previously headed Iran's cultural heritage and tourism organization, said in July that he suspected that a summer drought in southern Iran was part of a soft war launched against the Islamic republic.


THE MODERATE: Hassan Rowhani, 65, served as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator under reformist President Mohammad Khatami and is considered to be a critic of Ahmadinejad. He has said he does not "deny" his possible participation in the presidential vote. Rowhani told reporters on January 1 that members of some political parties, members of the Assembly of Experts, and lawmakers -- from both the conservative and reformist camps -- have talked to him about running. Rowhani is currently a member of the Assembly of Experts and the head of the Center for Strategic Research. He has said the future president will have to face numerous problems. "Whoever wants to become president needs to have a program to deal with the problems," he said. "And if I decide to run, I will definitely have a program."


THE REFORMIST: Mohammad Reza Aref, a university professor and vice president to former President Mohammad Khatami, is being tipped as a possible candidate for the reformist camp, which has essentially been eliminated from the political scene. Analysts believe the reformists have zero chance of regaining the presidency. Nevertheless, Aref (shown here on the right with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari in 2005) has been quoted as saying, "I may announce my candidacy formally if I don't see any notable nominee."

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Ralf from: USA
January 06, 2013 13:58
Do any of these hard-lined prophet-huggers, feel the insecure necessity to go constantly unshaven?
In Response

by: majtka from: Europe
January 08, 2013 12:18
Did you notice that they wear no ties, either?
Did you notice that the woman next to Mohsen Rezai wears a chador?
Did you notice that they live in Iran, and not in the US??
They hold in high esteem your political correctness and PR skills that sell well in your country, obviously.
In Response

by: Aos from: Europe
January 08, 2013 17:54

by: D from: Canada
January 06, 2013 18:51
With all the attempts to portray Iran as an dictatorship they certainly have candidates that are more diverse than in the US, where the difference between the republicans and democrats is the same as between pepsicola and cocacola.

The presence of such diverse candidates on Iran's political scene is a clear sign that it is not what the media portrays Iran to be, it is a different system which we in the West have difficulty understanding or in reality do not wish to understand.

by: Dana from: Canada
January 07, 2013 02:56
Obviously D from Canada doesn't know that if you're in Iran and vote for the opposition you can end up in jail. Obviously D from Canada doesn't know that opposition leaders from the 2009 election are still under house arrest (even though the common view of the general public is that Mousvai, one of the opposition leaders, actually won the election in 2009!!) Mitt Romney is NOT under house arrest and those who voted republican are not being intimidated, so do NOT compare the US and Iran.
In Response

by: David from: Canada
January 07, 2013 14:13
As a person who covered Iran for several years and lived there I can tell you that what D said about Iran is very accurate. Mitt Romney is not in jail because he does not challenge the system, but Bradley Edward Manning is in jail and so is citizen journalist Tarek Mehanna. In any case, IRI is much more progressive and free than all of the US regional allies put together, especially Washington's best friend the Saudis. If IRI would be the way the Western media portrays it to be the Iranian nation would get rid of it like they did with the US installed Shah.

In Response

by: Global citizen from: Ozie
January 08, 2013 05:50
I couldn't agree more with D and David. All you have is an illusion of choice and by giving you that choice you think you're free. An illegal war with over 600000 dead with millions maimed and displaced in Iraq in the greatest genocide of recent history, daily killing of innocent civilians with drone strikes, killing of American citizens without trial, indefinite detention of US citizens (NDDA), ongoing surveilance of US citizens without appropriate authorization, your failure under the NPT to disarm your nuclear weapons and helping non NPT signatory countries improve their nuclear technology (India), defamation of intellectuals and loss of their academic posts if they dare question US foreign policy, Sanctions on Iraq which made it the second poorest country outside Africa with highest infant mortality outside africa, killing close to 500000 children as the result, all the while propping up and backing dictators like Musharaf/Mubarak and when it suited them Saddam. I have no love for the Mullahs but I hate it when Americans or westerners try to take the moral high ground. You need to wake up...FAST
In Response

by: Prince from: Germany
January 23, 2013 05:35
David from: Canada ! cute comment sir..

by: Ali from: Toronto
January 08, 2013 03:44
Mr/Mrs D from Canada

"The presence of such diverse candidates on Iran's political scene"
What diversity do you see in these stooges of the Supreme leader, they all must be approved by the Guardian Council which is an apparatus of the Islamic regime to hold on to power. Saudi Arabia and Islamic Republic of Iran are the two worst countries for human rights and freedom of expression .
In Response

by: Global citizen from: Ozie
January 08, 2013 10:05
Yes you are absolutely right Ali, all these candidates have to be vetoed by the unelected, hardliners of the guardian council ensuring that no candidate rocks the boats and continues with revolutionary ideas as they see it fit. This process is about to become even stricter very soon, making it impossible for civilian candidates to run. However talking of not rocking the boat and pulling the line, please remind me on which issues did the two party system of America differ on any crucial economic or foreign policy? They were both falling over themselves calling for more bail outs of big banks, more spending, more wars, professing to bomb Iran quicker than the other guy....list goes on. The only candidates who dared to challenge the establishment were either sidelined (Ron Paul) or not given any real coverage (Garry Johnston). So no, they don't get thrown into prison, but through clever manipulation of media you make sure that they for all intense and purposes don't exist. In Saudi Arabia woman are not allowed to leave home without consent of men, not allowed to drive, educate, there is institutionalized racism towards non sunni and non saudi arabs. In Iran there are more woman in universities than men, they drive freely and leave their house whenever they wish. Iran turned their feudal society into industrialized, scientific nation under shah 50 years ago, and instead of trying to catch up, the arab countries have tried to undermine Iran instead. In Bahrain 90% of population is Shia, ruled by a Sunni majority who gave them that country illegally, they brutally murdered their people when they asked for more political inclusiveness and are sentencing the rest of them to life in prison or execution as we speak. But as it is the naval base for the US 3rd fleet no one is jumping up and down about the plight of those people and yet the "genocide" in syria is all the craze at the moment.The point is might is not always right, and until the hypocracy of the current world order continues nothing will be set right
In Response

by: Ali from: Toronto
January 09, 2013 00:32

If you live in Iran for a year or two and try to earn your living locally then you might be qualified to express opinion about Islamic Republic . Iranian are selling body parts to make a living , If you get a chance take trip to southern part of the capital Tehran and see the misery in biblical scale , unemployment ,drug addiction , under age prostitution ,depression and wretchedness in every direction , Iran has the highest per capita of drug addiction in the world , one out of every nine Iranians is a drug addict, suicide among young people is alarmingly high, younger people are all frustrated and dreaming to get out of the country, nearly seven millions have left for a better life somewhere else , while Mullahs and regime’s thugs are enjoying the best living condition in Iran ,
In Response

by: Globalcitizen from: Ozie
January 09, 2013 08:00
Ali, I agree with everything you have said, people are suffering endlessly on daily basis. I unfortunately am one of those who has left for better life. I hope change comes for Iranian people soon, but by Iranian people, for Iranian people, not on back of guns and bombs of western imperialists.
In Response

by: Parviz
January 11, 2013 05:42
Anyone praising the Iranian election system, or the regime itself, does not have the faintest clue about what goes on here: Government-approved prison-rapes, gruesome torture and killings of protestors, corruption on a scale unheard of in the nation's history (= Godfather Parts I, II and III -- people like the Ayatollah Tabassi Family who make Don Corleone look like Snow White), massive poverty, people selling their body parts to survive (There was a BBC documentary on this), plundering of the nation's resources and conscious neglect of the joint oil/gas fields exploited exclusively by our 'neighbors', 100 % inflation, total destruction of the Private Sector, and so on.

Those who complain about the lack of democracy in the U.S. (as I do) don't haven't a clue what they're talking about when they use such arguments to justify the misery in Iran.
In Response

by: globalcitizen from: Ozzie
January 15, 2013 09:16
Parviz, I'm neither justifying or praising the Iranian system. However what I am hearing from you is that if atrocities/pillage/murder/torture is committed by the good looking well shaved well spoken white guy with a tie is somehow more acceptable and not as evil if its done by a bearded brown guy with a turban..!! Stop worshiping the white man. The west never has and never will have our interest at heart, all they want is regime change at all cost so they can install another puppet dictator who will do their bedding in the region. Numerous dictatorial regime in history have reformed from withing the ruling elite system, and there are plenty of well educated moderates and reformists in our country who can bring about positive change in Iran, however the west is completely unwilling to work with the post revolutionary Islamic government. And yet they were happy to negotiate and work with Russia/China/Korea all of whom have caused US much greater headache and bloodshed than Iran. If US and their allies were not so arrogant and belligerent in their dealings with the reformists and pragmatists, Iranian people would not be suffering as they are now....I want change but the right change by Iranians in Iran for Iran....
In Response

by: Kaveh from: Tehran
January 14, 2013 02:58
Comments from Toronto, clearly show that the person is more from Toronto than Iran and it seems all the information the anti-Iranian propagandists get is from people in North Tehran that are stuck in 1960s.

Islamic Republic of Iran is not perfect, but its the only society and a system in the Middle East where a genuine alternative policies are being put to practice. When Iran was the US colony before the Islamic Revolution, Iran imported almost everything, today Iran produces weapons, household products, food, satellites and brilliant human capital. Iranian's living abroad that sided with imperialism clearly have no clue what people actually think about Iran inside the country. Keep listening to radio Ferda and live in illusions.
In Response

by: mohammad from: london
January 18, 2013 08:58
just to make u undestand the situation...those days that, u are talking about was 35years ago...if u are comparing iran 's improvement with 35 years ago, you are right.But its much more better to compare developed countries nowdays and 35years ago aswell. from ur point of view we can say all the countries in the world are very good and become better every day.even if u compare cambodia, uganda, tasmania,congo,zimbabwe,sierra leone and niger with 35 years ago you will realize they are better than those days.does it mean they are imporoved and should be happy?they are improved 1-2 or 3 steps from 35years ago but other countries improved 10000001-10000002-or 10000003 steps during these years. sorry to say that, but ur justification is just cheating. even cheating yourself as an iranian.with all respect to my basiji brother, Mr. Kaveh from tehran.

by: Frederick Melick from: Sydney
January 10, 2013 22:30
Enough hsrdliners.moderates and sane needed.peace must be priority.

by: Ahmad
January 13, 2013 09:38
Once again Iranians have to choose between the lesser of several evils. By the way, after living in Iran for more than three decades, I now really think that this regime represents the majority of Iranians. Most Iranians still don't know the basics of democracy. For most Iranians democracy is good as long as it is not against their benefits and wills.