Hossein Shariatmadari, Kayhan‘s editor personally chosen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reminded President-elect Hassan Rouhani in an unusually softly worded editorial about the return of Reformists to the administration.
“Although Dr. Rouhani is smarter than to get caught up with the companions of the American-Israeli 2009 sedition,” Shariatmadari began, “Especially as a National Security Council member for so many years with the trust of representing the supreme leader, he cannot be unaware of the real and disclosed identity of the seditionist community. However, there is evidence of designs of an inversion project to destroy and bring about his failure in the important task he has taken on.” By “inversion project,” Shariatmadari was referring to undoing, or making up for, the last eight years of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency.
Oddly, Shariatmadari defended Ahmadinejad’s tenure as president, saying, “The service during Ahmadinejad’s two terms, in the history of all administrations, from the constitutional revolution (1905-1911) until today, has been incomparable.” Shariatmadari then attempted to distance Ahmadinejad from the “deviant” group within his administration and drew parallels between that group and the “seditionists” in ignoring all the achievements of Ahmadinejad’s administration.
The “deviant” group refers to Ahmadinejad’s Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, while the “seditionists” include Reformists who contested, even mildly, the outcome of the 2009 elections, with former president Mohammad Khatami as the most well known member who is not currently imprisoned.
Shariatmadari wrote that the “inversion project” belongs to the “companions of the seditionists and some Reformists who have claims on Rouhani’s administration.” He continued, “The companions of the seditionists do not view Rouhani as one of their own. Rouhani’s positions, positions on many topics that have been officially stated, is inconsistent with their positions. They will consider Rouhani’s success another failure for the Reformists.”
“Mr. Rouhani is the president-elect of the people,” Shariatmadari continued. “And the right to pick his cabinet is legally his. But with the knowledge he has of the companions of the seditionists, he must be cautious about inviting those to work with him who have the shame of selling out their country in the American-Israeli sedition of 2009.”
Rouhani has referred to himself as a moderate who would be will bring all sides to work with him, with the exception of those who have exhibited radicalism. It is expected that he would fill his cabinet with traditional conservatives and moderate, if perhaps less known, Reformists and avoid hard-liners and radical Reformists.
Rouhani’s cabinet nominations will have to be approved by parliament. However, some key posts, such as minister of intelligence, are typically regarded as being under the purview of the supreme leader. In Ahmadinejad’s second term, the relationship between the president and supreme leader seemed irreparably damaged when Ahmadinejad attempted to replace Heydar Moslehi as the minister of intelligence. After Khamenei’s objection the replacement, Ahmadinejad did not show up to work for 11 days as a sign of protest. Rouhani and Khamenei have a longer, and perhaps better, working relationship. Still, it can be assumed that Khamenei will have the same level of influence over cabinet positions as previous administrations.