What are the Endurance Front’s choices ahead of the presidential election?

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Prominent Tehran MP, Ismail Kowsari, has made a number of interesting comments relating to the neoconservative group close to hardline Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, the Endurance Front for the Islamic Revolution, and its relationship with the Ahmadinejad government, as reported by the Reformist daily, Etemaad.

“The Endurance Front have separated from the government and are now counted amongst those excluded from government. In truth, for those who toiled for the government, they expected the government to be the same government of 2005 [i.e., when Ahmadinejad was first elected into office]. In this regard I think it doubtful they will form a coalition with a candidate from the government.”

Kowsari also speculated on the Endurance Front’s possible backing of Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, saying, “it still is not clear whether Saeed Jalili will become a candidate in the election, so we can’t say whether the Endurance Front will support him or not.”

It had previously been speculated that the Endurance Front might back Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, who ran on the front’s list in the last Majles elections. He is both head of the Majles’ minority Principalist faction and a close ally and in-law of the Supreme Leader. But this week the head of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi’s office, Hojjat al-Islam Jalili, made a number of highly critical statements vis-à-vis Haddad Adel. No doubt due to his formation of a coalition with Principalists, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and Ali Akbar Velayati, but also others such as Mostafa Pourmohammadi [a staunch Ahmadinejad government critic], who diverge from the Endurance Front on a number of issues and are generally seen as “moderate” by comparison. The comment which really stuck out was when Jalili forthrightly compared Haddad Adel to “edible and delicious water,” which had entered a “salty brook” and is as a result “useless.”

The chairman of the Endurance Front, Hojjat al-Islam Morteza Aqa-Tehrani, has also seemed to back off from previous comments that the Endurance Front would consider a coalition with Ahmadinejad’s favored candidate, stating, “what I said is clear, I said the engagement between the Majles and government is something on which [Ayatollah Khamenei] has spoken and he is still saying the same.” Aqa-Tehrani then named [Saeed] Jalili, [Parviz] Fattah and [Kamran Baqeri] Lankarani as prospective candidates the Endurance Front might put forward for the presidential contest.

In other news

Maverick Principalist MP, Ali Motahhari, has written a letter to Habibollah Asgarowladi, a prominent member of the Islamic Coalition Party, thanking the latter for breaking from what has been the overarching narrative since the controversial 2009 presidential election by the Islamic Republic establishment, and stating that Green Movement leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Hojjat al-Islam Mehdi Karroubi, are not “seditionists” or the “heads of the sedition.”

Motahhari praises Asgarowladi for his realization and public declarations to the effect that rather than “seditionists,” Mousavi and Karroubi were instead “afflicted by the sedition.” Mousavi is a former prime minister of the Islamic Republic, who Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had explicitly defended against critics in the course of his tenure, and Karroubi, a former parliamentary speaker who has occupied numerous positions in high office in the course of his political career. As a result some members of the Islamic Republic’s elite, particularly the older guard, of which Asgarowladi is a prominent personage, have found themselves in a difficult position vis-à-vis the repeated denunciations of the two ostracized politicians. Asgarowladi, for example, was himself a minister in Mousavi’s first cabinet in the early 80s.

Of those who unceasingly invoke the threat of another “sedition” and the “seditionists,” Motahhari said, they “are attached to a chimerical entity by the name of the leaders of the sedition and the seditionists.”

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a member of the Assembly of Experts and prominent Tehran Friday Prayer leader, in the course of a speech in the northern city of Ammol Friday, Jan. 25, addressed the issue of rising prices. Khatami stated, “we also are aware of recent rising prices and the suffering of the people and we also suffer, but the people of Iran have shown that they will not change a life informed by Ashura with a worldly one.”

Ashura is the 10th day of the month of Moharram and the day on which the third Imam of Shi’ism, Hossein, was martyred in battle against the Umayyad Caliph Yazid.

Regarding the US and sanctions, Khatami commented, “the president of America himself said on July 1 [2012] that as a result of sanctions Iran will capitulate in a month. Also there their demands were not realized.”

Pertaining to Iran’s negotiations with the P5+1 over Iran’s nuclear program, Khatami stated, “It was the European Union that left the negotiating table of the P5+1, because it hopes the Iranian nation will flood the streets [to protest], so that their [i.e., the Europeans] fists are full in the negotiations and they can increase their bargaining power.”