Posts Tagged ‘elections’
Iran: The Supreme Leader’s next move
Taking into consideration the current events in Iran, what are Khamenei’s choices?
The interview hosted by ABC of Australia, together with Simon Tisdall of The Guardian, tries to look at his options.
To listen, click below
What are the historic dimensions of Khamenei’s strategy?
The current events in Iran do not only impact domestic policy, they also have regional ramifications.
To read about them and the internal dynamics of current events, click below
And this is in the middle of a world economic crisis.
By: Meir Javedanfar
Tuesday 4th of November will be remembered as a very important day in American politics.
By the look of things, it will also be an important day for Iranian politics, for a very different reason.
Dr Ali Kordan, who is the Minister of Interior will be brought before the Majles for a motion of no confidence.
The Majles members embarked on this initiative, because it was discovered that Ali Kordan lied about his honorary PhD, which he said he had received from Oxford. After some investigative work by the Tehran based Alef News, it was discovered that his certificate was false. It even contained ridiculous spelling mistakes. Kordan first denied it and insisted that he is a real PhD. To contain the damage caused, he blocked Alef News’s website, so that the news doesn’t spread. It was too late.
When Oxford University denied having knowledge about him or his PhD, Kordan then changed his story, and said he was “duped”. This infuriated many members of the Majles, and the Iranian public.
As soon as some members of the Majles started the process of bringing Kordan for a motion of no confidence, they were bombarded with phone calls, by persons who tried to change their mind.
Things got even more interesting when some Majles members were offered 5 million Toman, (equivalent to appx $5000) for their local “mosque” (politically correct way of saying your own private bank account), on the condition that they withdrew their signature. To their credit, the signatories refused. Therefore on Tuesday 4th of November Kordan will stand before the parliament.
Ahmadinejad championed the anti-corruption drive in Iran. However, instead of sacking Kordan, he is standing fully by his side. So much so that he has refused to go to the Majles on that day, because he is against the proceedings.
When it comes to Ahmadinejad’s standing, it will be irrelevant if Kordan stays or goes. His public support for Kordan has already damaged his name, even with the Supreme Leader. Judging by a recent report in the Keyhan newspaper, whose editor Shariatmadar is close to the Supeme Leader, Khamenei is not pleased by the fact that Ahmadineajd has publicly declared that the Supreme Leader had fully backed Kordan. Even Khamenei is distancing himself from the Kordan affair. President Ahmadinejad would have been well advised to do the same.
The question on everyone’s lips will be: will this affair damage Ahmadinejad’s chances of being reelected? I would say that despite the damage, this affair is probably not a mortal blow. Where Ahmadinejad will feel the greatest loss will be amongst his own conservative supporters, who will now be even more divided.
Tuesday 4th of November will be an unforgettable day for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He will fear Kordan being removed and Barack Obama being elected as US president. A credible US president who wants to talk to Iran, instead of singing songs about bombing it, is not in the interest of Iranian conservatives. Calling the US a warmonger is one of the few battle cries they have left.
By: Meir Javedanfar
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf who has been serving as the Mayor of Tehran since 2005, is getting ready to enter the 2009 Iranian presidential race.
He already tried his luck in 2005 as a candidate, but failed to win. Winning 14% of the votes, he came in 5th. One of the reasons is because he described himself as an Islamic version of Reza Shah. Some Iranians have nostalgic feelings for the founder for the Pahlavi dynasty, and the father of Shah. The biggest reason is because he was a nationalist, and that he was a developer. He developed Iran’s roads, railways and telecommunication system. Also he was a no none sense man. He didn’t let bureaucracy (or democracy for that matter) get in his plans to develop Iran and to try and make it in to a modern country. In short, Iranians like Reza Shah, because he was a man of talk and action. In comparison, Ahmadinejad is a man of talk and no action. Or if he does anything, like reform the economy, he makes it worst.
However comparing yourself to the father of the Shah, even an Islamic version would make any politician lose great many point with supreme leader Khamenei. And this is what happened with Ghalibaf. Even though he had much better credentials as a Revolutionary Guards commander, Khamenei picked Ahmadinejad over him.
That was in 2005. Since then, Ghalibaf has improved his popularity as the Mayor of Tehran. He has just been recognized as the 8th best Mayor in the world. This is an achievement which won him much publicity in Iran. During his trip to Japan to receive the recognition, he used the opportunity to attack Ahmadinejad. Amongst other things he criticized Ahmadinejad’s domestic policies, with emphasis placed on the problem of inflation and Iran’s excessive reliance on oil as a source of income. He also criticized Ahmadinejad’s cash handouts, saying that they don’t “solve the economic roots of our problems”.
This is only a warning shot. President Ahmadinejad should expect a very tough and bruising competition . There is a queue of politicians waiting to settle scores with him. Ghalibaf should get to the back of the line. Ayatollah Karrubi got there first. There will be more people joining them.
By: Meir Javedanfar
Mohamamd Khatami, Iran’s former reformist president recently announced that he is considering to run as a candidate in the next presidential elections, if the following two conditions are met:
- “My first condition is reaching an agreement with the people on their expectations”.
- “I need to see to what extent these programmes can be implemented within the existing (power) structures,” he said.
Judging by his second condition, it looks like that Khatami is either preparing a graceful exit strategy, or that he is simply out of touch with current political realities in Iran.
It is extremely unlikely that Ayatollah Khamenei would allow him to win. Even though Khatami is missed by many Iranians, Khamenei is not one of them. He made his life very difficult when he was president.
Also, in 2009, Iran will be a much more different country.
Power, both political and economic is more firmly in the hands of the IRGC. It would be very difficult for Khatami to change that. First because of the extent of their power, and secondly, their animosity towards him. Therefore, implementation of domestic policies, especially economic ones will be far more difficult than before. Subsequently he would run the great risk of being labeled as a lame duck president, again.
Furthermore, when it comes to foreign policy, he will find a different Iran. Although his milder and more intellectual approach will be a breath of fresh air for many Iranians who are becoming horrified of Ahmadinejad’s behavior, nevertheless, it is very unlikely that he will be able to change much, especially when it comes to the nuclear program. Ayatollah Khamenei is going full speed towards nuclear glory. Not only because of ideology, also because he is a realist. The current situation in the Middle East, oil market and in the UN have provided him with an opportunity, and he is taking it. Khatami won’t be able to change that. Unless there is a massive drop in oil prices.
If he fails again, Khatami should not be disheartened. According to various reports, Iran is somewhere between 2 – 5 years from reaching the bomb. Once it does, Khamenei will need to improve relations with the West. He is most probably realistic enough to know that Iran’s economy could very well suffocate if things continue in their current format. Relations will have to be improved. Iran will have no choice. With a bomb in the basement, Khatami will be the best man for the job.
By: Meir Javedanfar
Its official. 12th of June 2009 has been chosen as the date for Iran’s next presidential elections. Although it has not been declared officially, president Ahmadinejad , almost without doubt is going to be running as a candidate.
What concerns many, especially Ahmadinejad’s competitors is that the contest is over before it has even began. Why?
Last week, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, during a sermon told Ahmadinejad that he should plan for another term: “In other words, imagine that in addition to this year, another four years will be under your management. Work with this in mind; act and plan accordingly”, said Khamenei.
When the Supreme Leader of Iran makes such a statement, many see it as a seal of approval for the president. Since Khamenei was responsible for allowing cheating in Ahmadinejad’s favor in the 2005 elections, with a statement like this, many are convinced that next year’s presidential elections are a foregone conclusion.
However, upon closer inspection of the political history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, one can see that there is still everything to fight for. Khamenei has gone against his promises before. This was shown in 1996 when he openly stated that he backed Nateq Nouri’s ambitions to become president. Instead his arch rival, Khatami won. That could not have happened without Khamenei’s consent.
Although chances of Ahmadinejad being reelected have substantially increased because of this statement, we must not forget that there are 10 months before the presidential reelections. 10 months in Iranian politics is equivalent to 10 years in Swedish politics, in terms of movement.
A lot can happen by then. Khamenei will sit and watch Ahmadinejad’s performance, and the falling oil prices. If Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf or Ali Larijani, who for now are the most popular alternatives can offer themselves as better choices, either of them will replace Ahmadinejad, no matter what the Supreme Leader told him. Ayatollah Khamenei is only truly loyal to one person: himself.
By: Meir Javedanfar
In terms of oil income, the government of president Ahmadinejad has been very lucky. Its is estimated that Iran will earn close to $70 billion from the sale of oil this financial year. This is equivalent to more than 3 years of income from the time when Ayatollah Rafsanjani was in charge of the presidential office, from early to mid 1990s.
However, with high income, comes high responsibility. While the government of Ayatollah Khatami created the Oil Stabilization Fund (OSF) for future emergencies, like when oil prices drop, Ahmadinejad, instead of adding, took money from the OSF to finance his projects. This is despite high oil prices.
With presidential elections less than 10 months away, the Iranian president is going on a massive spending spree. This financial year, it is estimated that his government will have accumulated a $10 billion deficit. Some believe that this figure will rise even more. With a budget totaling $296 billion for 2008-2009, that’s less than a 3% deficit figure, equivalent to half of Israel’s 6% deficit. Nevertheless, with runaway inflation rate of 20%, president Ahmadinejad is well advised by his economic consultants, who have called for reduction in spending.
Inflation as well as making Iran more internationally isolated than ever before, are some of the most notable failure of his term. The former is one area which his domestic competitors can publicly use against him, and will.
However public criticism of the latter is the confined to very few politicians, whose word mean very little, unless they have the backing of the Supreme Leader.