Hard-line Cleric: Reformists Will Not Be Allowed to Run

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Several powerful and influential clerics have given statements on whether Reformists will run for the presidency or be disqualified by the Guardian Council, the body of clerics that vets candidates for the elections in Iran. The most prominent to be mentioned from the Reformist camp is former president Mohammad Khatami, although other names have also been mentioned as potential candidates as well.

Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi said that “the Reformists are after a candidate that will not be disqualified, [but] their leaders will certainly be disqualified.” Mesbah Yazdi, who is a member of the Assembly of Experts, the body of clerics that theoretically serves as an oversight body for the Supreme Leader, said that “after the sedition of 2009, the Reformists no longer have a place amongst the people.”

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

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.

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Ayatollahs Mesbah Yazdi and Rafsanjani square off?

Over the weekend, Hojjat al-Islam Jalali, the head of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi’s office and a senior member of the Endurance Front for the Islamic Revolution, delivered a speech in Mashhad in which he vehemently attacked  former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. While there has long been a rivalry between the two ayatollahs, this is perhaps the most overt and stinging attack on the incumbent head of the Expediency Discernment Council.

Jalali takes particular exception to Hashemi Rafsanjani’s repeated recommendations for a “national unity government” which in the advent of the dispute 2009 election and the ongoing house arrest of opposition leaders Mehrdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, calls for a power sharing agreement with Reformist leaders and Hashemi Rafsanjani’s own allies, the Karogozaran-e sazandegi, or the Executives for Reconstruction.

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