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The Iranian Presidential Shocker
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Ebrahim Raeisi, the Islamic Republic’s Chief Justice
Ebrahim Raeisi, the Islamic Republic’s Chief Justice

When Iran’s Interior Ministry released on Tuesday the final list of candidates approved by the 12-member Guardian Council to run for President in the upcoming June 18 election, all hell was breaking loose in Tehran for at least 24 hours.

An “unofficial” list of the 7 candidates for the presidential election was already circulating and causing quite a stir, but not confirmed yet to be final.

The talk of the town was that the list barred a lot of important people. Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was out. So was Ali Larijani – a former Parliament speaker, and even the current Iranian Vice President, Es’haq Jahangiri, who should be the top reformist running.

The Fars news agency had broken the story on Monday, announcing the final 7. They got everything right – from the elimination of Ahmadinejad, Larijani and Jahangiri to the fact that no women candidates were approved.

Fars is very close to the IRGC. So what happened makes perfect sense. Including the rumors swirling around Tehran that outgoing President Rouhani went into panic mode, calling Ayatollah Khamenei for a revision of the list.

As it stands, the Magnificent Seven who will be running are Ebrahim Raeisi, Saeed Jalili, Mohsen Rezaei, Alireza Zakani, Seyyed Amir-Hossein, Ghazizadeh-Hashemi, Albdolnasser Hemmati and Mohsen Mehr-Alizadeh.

The undisputed leader of the pack is Raeisi, the head of the Judiciary since 2019. He is technically a Principlist – an Islamic Revolution conservative, in Iranian terms – but says he will run as an independent. Call him a soft hardliner.

Among the others, the only one relatively known outside of Iran is Jalili, also a Principlist, and former top nuclear negotiator as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council from 2007 to 2013.

At least in thesis, two reformists are left: Mehr-Alizadeh and Hemmati, the current governor of the Central Bank. But they have no national appeal.

So Raeisi now seems to be nearly a done deal: a relatively faceless bureaucrat without the profile of an IRGC hardliner, well known for his anti-corruption fight and care about the poor and downtrodden. On foreign policy, the crucial fact is that he will arguably follow crucial IRGC dictates.

Raeisi is already spinning that he “negotiated quietly” to secure the qualification of more candidates, “to make the election scene more competitive and participatory”. The problem is no candidate has the power to sway the opaque decisions of the 12-member Guardian Council, composed exclusively by clerics: only Ayatollah Khamenei.

The Guardian Council cryptically stated that only 40 out of 592 candidates had submitted “all the required documents” to the Interior Ministry’s election HQ. There was no explanation about the content of these “documents”.

Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaee, the Council’s spokesman, dismissed any politicking: decisions were made based on “election law”. So no one can contest them – except Khamenei. He stressed that the Council “had not been informed” of any action by the Leader.

The end of the reformist era

Vice President Jahangiri, who would have been the reformist standard bearer, did not take it lightly: in a forceful statement, he said, “the Council naturally bears the responsibility for the decision and its legal basis and for the political and social consequences arising from it.”


More crucially for the Tehran establishment, he highlighted a “serious threat” to the system: “I hope that the republican aspect of the establishment, the effective participation of the people in determining their own fate, the national interests, and the future of Iran will not be sacrificed to immediate political expediencies.”

Advisers to former President Ahmadinejad – still extremely popular nationally – told me they are still weighing their options: “It is a very big disappointment, but expected. A big mistake, that will lead to anger and distrust among common people, and eventually backlash.”

Professor Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran remarked, “there’s still some uncertainty about the candidates.” He’s not making a full assessment yet because he’s not sure the vetoing of Larijani, especially, “will be the final say”.

Even as the Magnificent Seven are now free to start campaigning, the overall sentiment is that the Rouhani-Zarif era seems to be over, not with a bang but a whimper.

At the JCPOA negotiations in Vienna, Iranian deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi continues to sound as a realist, stressing, “I am not confident that it would be possible to conclude the negotiations but there is a possibility.” That would require “political decisions to be made”, a direct reference to Washington.

Everyone in Vienna knows that what was agreed to far on the JCPOA revival was the easy part. The real problem are the remaining hundreds of sanctions that must be canceled by the US Congress – and that’s not gonna happen.

Besides, the Americans continue to insist that Tehran should first resume the nuclear commitments it has suspended – following its legal retaliation rights as defined by Article 26 of the JCPOA. Tehran’s red line is clear: it was Washington which ditched the JCPOA, so it’s up to the US to first remove all sanctions, “practically and verifiably”.

Tehran has reiterated over and over again it will walk out of Vienna by the end of May if there’s no deal. The IRGC couldn’t care less: they are already in post-JCPOA mode. Focused on the Iran-China strategic deal. Focused on wider Eurasia integration alongside Russia and China. And relying on the perfect candidate placed to become the next Iranian president.

(Republished from Asia Times by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iran, Iran Nuclear Agreement 
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  1. The democrats and republicans rig US elections by approving of the candidates that may be voted on and so does the Iranian regime.

    The IRGC is the real power as is the US military and spook agencies.

    The US is a democracy and the Iranians have a theocratic state.

    What’s the difference?

  2. Hess says:

    Pablo Escobar has been compromised by the Zionists.

    • Replies: @Rahan
  3. Maybe we can “allow them” some of our leaders?
    Killary,Piglosi,Camalatoe,FineStein and THE OPRA…
    They need to get with it,after all,progress is progress.
    Just think of the “enrichment” the Cardcashiens bring…

  4. ‘…As it stands, the Magnificent Seven who will be running are Ebrahim Raeisi, Saeed Jalili, Mohsen Rezaei, Alireza Zakani, Seyyed Amir-Hossein, Ghazizadeh-Hashemi, Albdolnasser Hemmati and Mohsen Mehr-Alizadeh…’

    I’ve read through that list four times now. There are eight names.

  5. Realist says:

    The US is a democracy and the Iranians have a theocratic state.

    I submit that the U. S. is not a democracy…it is a false democracy…a plutocratic Oligarchy if you will.

    • Agree: Biff
    • Replies: @RoatanBill
  6. @Realist

    I knew I should have put the /sarc tag after the word democracy.

    All governments are criminal organizations with various nonsensical titles or attribute. Democracy, socialism, communism, marxism, etc are just labels that have no real meaning. The underlying criminal organization in each country could easily be transplanted to another country and continue functioning under the new facade.

    Governments are the top level mafias in their respective jurisdictions. The only difference between what the average person thinks of when the word mafia is mentioned and the political class everywhere is the level of sophistication and control of information. Governments have learned over centuries how to manipulate their populations to where they can’t recognize the true evil in their midst.

  7. @RoatanBill

    The US is a feudal system. Using perceptions management techniques (24/7 media zombification of the masses) to have some believe that they have a choice in a plutocratic oligarchy doesn’t make a country a democracy. The US has all the characteristics of a Kleptocracy, Oligarchy, Plutocracy, Fiefdom and Serfdom.

    These are the manifestations of a crumbling/disintegrating empire.

  8. @RoatanBill

    There’s never been a Marxist government. Leninist or Bolshevist differ in a crucial way.

    In Marxism the proles vote on who runs the soviet or commune. The “dictatorship of the proletariat”, the rule of the people, the ordinary people.

    If it had ever happened it would have been a far more genuine democracy than America ever saw.

    • Replies: @RoatanBill
  9. Rahan says:

    Pablo Escobar has been compromised by the Zionists.

    If one imagines reading this sentence without context, it sounds delightfully like something from 1965. Either from behind the Iron Curtain, or from some Western student sit-in debate.

  10. @Ann Nonny Mouse

    The point I was trying to make is that all governments are criminal organizations with the absolute worst people running things. It makes little difference what label gets applied; they all tax their human cattle, send the stupid off to die in their wars and run the largest propaganda organizations to dumb down their own citizenry.

  11. Tonypoo says:

    PEPE ESCOBAR is a brilliant writer. He knows Iran from the inside out, and what he wrote is factual, and I agree with most of it. And he is very accurate that the IRGC could care less about the JCPOA. Why should they give a damn about an agreement which did not bring anything of value to the Iranian people, and in the end was ripped up by the Orange Baboon? The Americans have never honored contracts they signed and they never will. The nature of imperialism is one of control and submission and Iran will never submit.

    Iran as well as the rest of the western Asia nations look to forge ties with China (a 21-century leader) and could care less about the 20th-century empire which has created chaos all around the world.

    • Replies: @Nostradamus
  12. @RoatanBill

    The USA IS a theocracy, and the Elect are the Judaic elites who totally control politics, the brainwashing systems and the financial apparatus that dominates the economy. Why does any sane person deny this reality?

    • Replies: @RoatanBill
  13. @RoatanBill

    The Iranians are honest. While we lie about it.

  14. @Mulga Mumblebrain

    Words have meaning and to conflate the shitshow of US gov’t with a theocracy isn’t helpful.

    I understand your implication, that the zionists / jews run the place, which is at least partly to largely true, but I can’t condone the misuse of language. The overlords are already bastardizing the language to suite their needs and adding to that will just confuse the weak of mind.

    • Agree: Ever Becoming
  15. antibeast says:

    The USA is a Banana Republic run by the Capitalist Owners of the US Federal Reserve System while US citizens are their tax-paying debt slaves who are supposed to fight, die and pay for their ‘Forever Wars’. As US-born White citizens refuse to fight, die and pay for their ‘Forever Wars’, the Capitalist Owners of the Banana Republic of the USA have to import tens of millions of Black and Brown immigrants to become their tax-paying debt slaves who would become their new Sepoys willing to fight, die and pay for their ‘Forever Wars’.

  16. Malla says:

    For some weird shitty reason, psychopathic people tend to always go the top either in government or some corporation or some religious body or as organisation. Not 100% of the time, there a few good ones who make it to the top but sadly the worst types archons/ psychopaths have a way with gaining power in any human organisation.
    Maybe that is why Thomas Jefferson spoke of a people’s revolution every 25 years to clean the system. Mencius 孟子(famous disciple of Confucius) spoke of overthrowing evil governments millennia ago. Sad but true. But revolutions are basically replacing one group of psychopaths with another group of psychopaths. Indeed many of the famous revolutions if history were actually overthrowing of the rare good leader (King Charles I, King Louis XVI, Tzar Nicholaus II) by mobs fooled and manipulated by psychopaths waiting in the side to take power!!!

    • Replies: @RoatanBill
  17. Realist says:

    I knew I should have put the /sarc tag after the word democracy.

    Just italicize the subject of sarcasm.

  18. @Tonypoo

    I was actually baffled that Iran had even signed that agreement in the first place.

    1 – The US never abode by the more than 400 treaties signed with the American Indian tribes – It has been more than 5 centuries now.

    2 – Since the death of the Soviet Union, the US has ignored what used to be called international law and has adopted a brute force strategy for all international matters:

    Gulf War I, Gulf War II, Belgrade bombings, Afghanistan, ISIS creation for Syria and Irak destruction, Venezuela economic destruction, Libya bombed to the Stone Age, bioweapons labs in 25 countries with clandestine testing in West Africa, China, Ukraine, Georgia, etc…..

    3- Even nuclear and missiles treaties with Russia had no meaning to the US and Bush started dismantling them in 2000 giving Russia enough time to develop hypersonic missiles when he was in Afghanistan growing opium for war against the Taliban.

    This is a pathetic empire that is Not agreement capable and Iran should Not have signed that agreement with Obama in the first place. I liked the policies of Ahmadinejad when he was president because he knew quite well the enemy he was dealing with.

    • Replies: @Tonypoo
    , @showmethereal
  19. @Malla

    What you say may be true, but I prefer a system where there is no one I answer to or whose commands I have to follow. I simply don’t believe any human being has the right to make laws that I’m obliged to obey. If my neighbor has no right to command me around and all my neighbors have no right to control me, then I see no logical way for them to elect some quasi god that magically acquires the right to rule over me.

    Most people just want to live quiet lives and never cause any trouble. They don’t need to be told how to comport themselves because they’re decent people. It’s the human filth at the top and bottom that are the problem IMO.

    • Replies: @Drapetomaniac
  20. @Colin Wright

    Comrade, if the Party says there are seven names, there are seven names.

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  21. Anonymous[197] • Disclaimer says:
    @Colin Wright

    An extra comma has divided a long name into two: Seyyed Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh-Hashemi is one person.

    • Thanks: Colin Wright
  22. Anonymous[197] • Disclaimer says:

    The Guardian Council is not composed entirely of clerics.

    An English translation of the Iranian Constitution posted on the website of the Parliament reads:

    Article 115: “The President must be elected from among religious and political personalities possessing the following qualifications: He must be of Iranian origin and an Iranian national, possess administrative and problem-solving skills, have a good track record, be trustworthy and pious, have faith and conviction in the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the country’s official religion.”

    • Replies: @Tonypoo
  23. @James J O'Meara

    ‘Comrade, if the Party says there are seven names, there are seven names.

    Your theory was more interesting — but sadly, it turns out Anon (197) is right.

  24. Tonypoo says:

    I completely agree with you. Iran should have never signed the JCPOA in the first place. But in Iran, as it is true in any part of our globe, there exists a minority of New Liberals. This small minority holds an enormous amount of wealth and controls most of the media in the country. The New Liberals are connected and supported by the US imperialists, and they are the ones who pushed for negotiations with the west against the wishes of the leather.

    The leader basically had two choices, either stop the negotiations, something a dictator would do, or allow it to move forward but show his discontent. He chose the latter. And now, he can claim a victory that will pave the way for a hardliner candidate to win the upcoming election. He is not only a revolutionary but also a wise man.

  25. @RoatanBill

    The governments are rather similar. The big difference between the US and Iran is that the US violently attacks other countries, violently changes other countries’ governments, and bullies everyone economically. Iran is better than the US.

  26. @Nostradamus

    They didn’t trust the US. They did trust the EU though – and now that they are burned they won’t acquiesce. It was the strength of Russia and China why they agreed though. So once the US broke the agreement and the international sanctions (rather than US sanctions) – the Iranians just focused on those two. They gave the EU a chance but the EU was scared. So now they will be buying weapons from Russia and China pledged to invest \$400 billion into Iran over the next 25 years in exchange for oil.
    But yeah the examples you gave – not to mention Gaddafi in Libya is why Kim in North Korea refuses to budge.

  27. @RoatanBill

    Agree entirely.

    The problem is that people have been domesticated animals of government for 10,000+ years and barely one in a thousand can escape their selective breeding.

    • Agree: RoatanBill
  28. Why doesn’t Iran test the bomb and get over with it instead of these endless negotiations. They have been working on it for a generation and yes they intend to have it otherwise what’s the point of keeping the program while getting sanctioned to death. Their regime’s a ghoulish one, a horrible nightmare and every smart person tries to run away from this theocratic nightmare.

  29. @RoatanBill

    Well, Iran is not the only democracy in the Middle East. I think Syria takes that prize.

    • Replies: @RoatanBill
  30. @Ann Nonny Mouse

    There’s no democracy anywhere on the planet as long as political parties exist to rig elections.

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