Iranians Choose A Centrist As Next President

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 Iranian presidential candidate Rohani waves to supporters in the central Iranian city of Shiraz

With a 72% voter turnout Iranians have picked moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani with an overwhelming margin over his conservative and hard-line counterparts.

Rouhani, a 64-year-old cleric who labeled himself a “moderate” and who has been able to work with both sides and has avoided extremes, often criticized the “security environment” that has become prevalent in the country in the last few years and has touted his credentials as capable negotiator when he was in charge of nuclear negotiations with the West. In his television interviews he was often engaging and not afraid to go on the offensive. In the last few days before election day, with the withdrawal of reformist Mohammad Reza Aref and the support of reformist former President Mohammad Khatami and Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, Rouhani began to draw large crowds at rallies, suggesting the momentum was in his favor. Continue reading

Newspaper Close to Khamenei Pressures Conservatives to Unite

untitled 2 Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of Kayhan newspaper and appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has written an op-ed pleading with the remaining Principilist candidates in the presidential race to form a coalition before the election on Friday. Continue reading

Khamenei: Even Those Who Don’t Believe in Islamic System Should Vote

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In a speech today, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stressed the importance of voting. A high voter turnout is something he and other top leaders of the Islamic Republic have pushed for in the last few weeks before the June 14 election. There are approximately 50 million eligible voters, and despite claims by various Iranian media that voter turnout will be far above 50%, it has been difficult to independently verify.

Khamenei said, “My first recommendation is for an enthusiastic presence at the ballot box. It’s possible that an individual for some reason may not want to support the Islamic system, but he wants to support his country. Everyone must come out and vote.” Interestingly, on June 4, Khamenei used the opposite argument to urge people to vote. “Each vote you give to any of these eight candidates … is a vote you’ve given for the Islamic Republic,” he said. “A vote for any candidate is a vote for the Islamic Republic. It’s a vote of confidence in the system and the mechanisms of the election.”

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Reformism Dead, Announces Iran Media With Candidate’s Departure

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With Reformist candidate Mohammad Reza Aref pulling out of the presidential race and leaving Hassan Rouhani as the sole front-runner among the moderate candidates, the pressure now appears to be on conservatives, or Principilists, to either pull out of the race or build a coalition.

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Guardian Council Denies Candidate’s Qualification Under Review

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Abbass Ali Kadkhodaei, spokesman for the Guardian Council, which vets potential candidates, has denied that moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani’s qualification to run for the presidency is under review. While legally the council has the authority to disqualify an already approved candidate just days before the election, the move would be a shock to many.

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14 Points On Saeed Jalili According to Hezbollah

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Foreign-based Persian language news site Digarban has picked up social media post by an individual who claims to be a former student of nuclear negotiator and presidential candidate Saeed Jalili. The former student from Imam Sadegh University – where many Sepah (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) have graduated from – describes Jalili as “a good man, but not for the presidency.”

According to the student, many of the 14 points on Jalili were confirmed by “research and interviews with individuals who know him from the Foreign Ministry.” Although the 14 points “are presented by a friend,” the former student adds his own observations in parenthesis. [My comments are in brackets.]

Jalili’s surprise last-minute registration and approval by the Guardian Council has caught some analysts off guard. He has presented himself as a hardliner on religious, social and foreign policy issues. Some on foreign Persian language media sites and others on social media have speculated that Jalili’s presence and position in the elections is a ploy to convince more liberal voters to turn out to vote for their own candidate to increase voter participation, something which is desired by the Iranian government. Continue reading

Pressure Mounts for Iran’s Moderate Candidates to Unite

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With eight days left before the June 14 election and the unpredictable nature of Iranian presidential politics, Reformists and moderates have been exerting pressure on Mohammad Reza Aref and Hassan Rouhani to unite. Some fear that if Aref and Rouhani fail to unite, their votes there could be a repeat of 2005 election that brought the hard-line Ahmadinejad to power.

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Qusair Victory ‘More Valuable’ Than 2006 War With Israel

untitled The Syrian army has reportedly retaken control over the city of Qusair in Homs province after a year of Syrian rebels controlling the city. Qusair witnessed heavy fighting and many casualties on both sides, and stood out especially due to the heavy presence of Lebanese Hezbollah’s fighters who fought on the side of the Syrian army. Iran has invested heavily in keeping President Bashar al-Assad’s government in power and is the main sponsor of Hezbollah. Continue reading