Iran Hopes

A Weblog on Iranian Affairs (Formerly Iran Votes 2005)

Monday, May 23, 2005

A 'Wise' Move by Khamenei

"Iran's supreme leader has ordered the Guardian Council to reconsider a ruling barring two reformists from standing for the presidency". This latest move by the Leader is a very tactical one. It implies that he was unaware of the final list of the qualified candidates published by the GC on Sunday night. But one should be very naive to believe this was actually the case. The GC would never make such a big decision without consulting with the Leader in advance to get his approval. However, the Leader was concerned that disqualifying the only major reformist candidate might cause social and political unrest. His concerns turned out to be true: immediately after the GC's ruling on disqualifications was announced, reformists (Jebheye Mosharekat and Sazman Mojahedin Enghelab in particular) directed their attacks towards the Leader himself. In the meanwhile, there were reports Tehran University students held a meeting in TU dormitory, chanting slogans against the GC and, occasionally, against the Leader. Khamenei was ready to make the move. He issued the order, which silenced, at least temporarily, the reformists and ended the student meetings.
A close reading of Kayhan editorial confirms that Khamenei's move was planned well in advance. Hossein Shariatmadari writes: "if [those whose favourite candidate has been disqualified] believe the presence of their candidate is in [regime's] best interest, they must appeal to the Supreme Leader to resolve the problem, not to the Guardian Council whose job is not to determine what [regime's] best interest is."[i.e. Kayhan believes the Guardian Council is an impartial body]. If Jebheye Mosharekat (the so called reformist party), who have always been critical of the Leader's arbitrary and partial (hardliner) stance would appeal to the Leader as Kayhan encourages them to do, then they would explicitly acknowledge the role of the Supreme Leader as a neutral arbiter. But when neither Jebheye Mosharekat nor Moeen appealed to the Leader to play the neutral arbiter role, Kayhan and the Leader were frustrated, although not entirely. The Leader was intent to demonstrate his neutrality. Thus, Haddad Adel, the Majlis speaker who is also father-in-law to Khamenei's son was given the mission to write a letter to the Leader, asking him for his 'kind and wise' intervention.
There is another trick in the editorial as well. Throughout, it tries to give the impression that it was written before the Leader's order was issued (so the writer was totally unaware of what move the Leader was going to make). However, at the end of the editorial, the writer says: "in the last minutes of publishing this editorial, information came in that the Supreme Leader, upon a letter by the Majlis speaker, has written a letter to the GC to, while acknowledging its services,ask for reconsidering the qualification [sic] of Dr Mostafa Moeen and Eng. Mohsen Mehralizadeh. This wise decision, like always, has resolved any concern [...]". Kayhan editorial writer is right. It was a very wise move indeed. While it is very unlikely that the GC makes any change in the first ruling, the Leader will once again come out 'clean' out from a political fraud, pretending that he had no role in creating it.

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