Iran: Khamenei’s difficulties in 2013 election engineering – Part I

NCRI – Ali Khamenei, the Iranian regime’s supreme leader, began the ‘engineering’ of the June presidential election months ago by disqualifying 678 candidates and confirming only 8 candidates of his own choosing as an important step in ‘engineering’ his desired results.

In this round of the election, the ‘engineering’ took place at the time the candidates were vetted by the Guardian Council. This is because Khamenei is now weaker than he was when he vetted candidates at the vote-counting stage, as he did in 2005.

By doing this, Khamenei is pursuing two goals. Firstly, he is looking to select as president one of the three candidates closest to him, Saeed Jalili, Ali Akbar Velayati and Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf. Secondly, he wants to announce more than 50 percent of voters participated in the election.

Khamenei’s difficulties in 2013 election engineering

Khamenei, whose power has been eroded following the 2009 uprising, is now facing several difficulties in the implemention of his election engineering:

1) Khamenei wants a president that will continue his contraction policy which he started in 2005 by eliminating Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the so called reformists (Mostafa Moin, Mehdi Karroubi etc), and He considers that failure to achieve this could trigger the downfall of the regime.

2) He considers it vital that there is no repeat of the 2009 uprising, therefore election engineering similar to 2009 would not work.

3) As in 2005 and 2009, he must eliminate Rafsanjani and the so-called reformists who contradict his contraction policy.

4) After failure of the Velayat-e Faqih period, and contrary to 2005 and 2009, Khamenei’s faction and especially the clerics and revolutionary guards are torn apart and he is being challenged by different groups within his own faction.

Contrary to 2005 and 2009, in which the revolutionary guards’ command could easily have determined which candidate was favored by Khamenei, the situation in 2013 is entirely different.

For example, in the 2005 election engineering, Khamenei introduced his son Mojtaba as the head of Ghalibaf’s election campaign, and by doing so he deceived Rafsanjani and the reformists.

Then with only 4 days left until the election, Mojtaba left Ghalibaf campaign and became head of Ahmadinejad’s election campaign. After this, the revolutionary guards simply filled the ballot boxes in favor of Ahmadinejad.

But in 2013 election, the revolutionary guards’ situation is different. On 5 May, 2013, General Mohammad Ali Jafari participated in a conference in Tehran to personally explain this to 4,000 revolutionary guards commanders involved in the election engineering, but after hours of discussion he was not able to reach an agreement with them.

It is said that General Mohammad Ali Jafari, General Qassem Soleimani commander of the Qods force, and mullah Ali Saeedi, Khamenei’s representative in the IRGC, together with some IRGC commanders and part of the revolutionary guards forces, favor Ghalibaf, but other IRGC commanders and lower ranks in IRGC forces favor other candidates, especially Saeed Jalili.

There is also much disagreement among pro-Khamenei mullahs. The Society of Combatant Clergy headed by mullah Mahdavi Kani supports traditional right-wing conservatives.

Opposing them is mullah Mesbah Yazdi, leader of the security and military groups within Khamenei’s faction.

This faction was the main supporter of Khamenei in selecting Ahmadinejad as president.

In this election, mullah Mesbah Yazdi and his faction introduced Kamran Bagheri Lankarani as the fittest candidate for the presidency, while mullah Mahdavi Kani and the Society of Combatant Clergy as well as Society of Seminaries did not accept him and introduced mullah Hassan Abu-Torabi as their own candidate.

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