Iran Hopes

A Weblog on Iranian Affairs (Formerly Iran Votes 2005)

Monday, April 25, 2005

Some already shaking as Rafsanjani makes the decision to return

Today, a quote from Velayati dominated the Iranian newspapers’ headlines: “opposing Rafsanjani, a precondition for the CCR”. The Persian term used by newspapers is ‘Taghabol’, which can have various connotations. Among others, it can mean to fight against a threat, and not simply opposing in the sense of fighting in a contest, or disagreeing with, in this case, Rafsanjani’s ideas. But was this what Velayati really meant by ‘Taghabol’? It appears not. Velayati has in fact said: “it was brought up in the ‘Council for Cooperation among Revolutionaries’ (CCR) that someone must be elected to run for the presidential election who would be able to stand against Rafsanjani’ (Iran, 25.04.05). In any elections, where there is more than one candidate running, candidates stand against each other. When a group wants to choose a candidate to back him or her up as its favourite candidate, it evaluates its chances against others, especially against those who seem to be in a potentially better position to win the election in question. Therefore, what the CCR has done in weighing up the chances of its potential candidates does not seem to be unusual.
So, what does make it worthwhile to ponder on Velayati's account of what happened in the CCRs deliberations and the way it has been reported by Iranian so-called non-conservative newspapers, particularly Shargh and Iran?
1. What we witnessed in newspapers today is a very delicate attempt to convince the public mind that it is crucial that Rafsanjani –who still says that he is ‘uncertain’ whether or not he should run – must announce his candidacy, and, more importantly, people must vote for him. This is the only way, at least Rafsanjani’s supporters want people to believe, that the threat of an oppressive, fundamentalist government taking control of the government may be avoided. Rafsanjani is the only man who has the capability to resist the increasing power of the hardliners (a corollary of this claim is that Rafsanjani is not a hardliner himself. See below).
2. Relevant to the first point, the reaction of Tehran newspapers diminishes the significance of other candidates who are hoping to win a considerable number of votes and, at least, make it to the second round. In fact, the message conveyed by newspapers to the public is that the real battle is between Rafsanjani and Larijani. What appears to back up this message is that the CCR, whose members have top positions in the government (e.g. Majlis speaker, and men close to the Supreme Leader), does not see Moein or Karoubi as real opponents. One reason for this maybe that the CCR are certain that Moein will not be able to get through the Guardian Council filter. Besides, the polls in Tehran and other major cities show that Karoubi is not among the top three or four canidates at present.
3. Velayati is also quoted as saying ‘the CCR’s members believe that Rafsanjani – despite his remarkable background in Islamic revolution – is not a ‘man of Islamic principles’ (Ossulgara). The regime well knows that the majority of people will not vote for an Ossulgara. They prefer to stay home and not to turn out to vote, rather than to vote for an Islamic principlist – if I can use this term. So, Rafsanjani, if he wants to win (as he surely does), must wipe off this belief (which is a well-founded one) that he is an Ossulgara. He has to distance himself from ‘them’ and have people and media to approve that he is an open-minded reformist – despite his notorious record that clearly he does not believe in equal human rights, he has used terror for political purposes, he is not interested in political development, he does not believe in equal rights for all Iranian citizens, etc.
4. And finally, the recent move by Velayati signals Velayati’s conviction about a couple of issues: first, he will not win the elections and second, Rafsanjani will be the next president of Iran. Velayati has said that he was not selected by the CCR as the favourite contender because of his intention to quit as potential candidate in Rafsanjani’s favour. In other words, he was dismissed by the CCR for he was backing up the non-principalist Rafsanjani. Thus, the message translates into the following:
“Mr. Rafsanjani, once you become president, as I am sure you will, please remember my big sacrifice for you. All I expect is that you return the favour by appointing me as your cabinet’s foreign minister. I promise that I will be as obedient as I was during the eight years at the office in your previous administration.”

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