Khamenei will control Iranian politics no matter who is president

Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi votes in the presidential election in Tehran, Iran on May 19, 2017 (Reuters)

In a televised speech to members of the Iranian parliament last week, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei urged all citizens to participate in the June 18 presidential election, warning against “those who promote abstention from voting “And affirming” that they do not sympathize with the people “.
Khamenei was responding clearly, while not naming anyone, to widespread criticism of the Guardians Council’s decision to ban a number of candidates from running and instead publish a shortlist of just seven people considered eligible for election. the election.
Former parliament speaker Ali Larijani and first vice president Eshaq Jahangiri were the most prominent names excluded. According to Zahra Khomeini, daughter of the founder of the republic, Ayatollah Khomeini: “The incredible thing is to reject the candidacy of the leaders of the regime whose efforts are well documented, since the beginning of the revolution and until today, in the service of the people and the revolution. “
Hassan Khomeini, Khomeini’s grandson, also criticized the decision of the Council of Guardians, saying: “If I was among the eligible candidates, I would have withdrawn my candidacy.”
Two members of the House of Khomeini, a respected and hallowed figure on the pro-revolutionary street, have openly criticized the way the election was run and hinted that they are in favor of a boycott. This position is consistent with the majority of leaders and members of the “reformist” movement, which has had two of its most prominent leaders – former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Sheikh Mehdi Karroubi, who has represented Khomeini for many years. years during the official Hajj. mission – under house arrest since 2011.
Addressing the Islamic Consultative Assembly, Khamenei noted something important when he said: “The elections are held for one day, but their impact will continue for several years.”
This is essential to understand why the candidacies of Larijani and Jahangiri were rejected. They were the strongest rivals of current justice chief Ebrahim Raisi, a cleric who ran for president in 2017 but lost to Hassan Rouhani. The “hard” current does not want to see this defeat repeated because the direct interpretation would be that Raisi is unpopular among the citizens, reducing his chances of succeeding Khamenei as guardian of the Vilayat-e Faqih (Tutelage of the Islamic jurist) regime. , especially since his name has been proposed as a possible successor and is supported by the “fundamentalists” and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Therefore, the outcome of the election, as Khamenei stated, will have an effect for years to come as the process, beyond choosing the president, is the preparation and training ground for the successor to 82 years. The supreme leader also wants the next government to be in full harmony with the Islamic Consultative Assembly, which is controlled by extremists, the IRGC and its foundation, in order to facilitate the formulation of domestic and foreign policies.
The president, in this case, would not be a source of obstruction, as is currently the case with Rouhani, who belongs to the “moderate” movement and of which the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Javad Zarif, complained, in leaked tapes released in April of the army’s control over political decision-making and the interventions of former Force Commander Quds Qassem Soleimani in the work of the Foreign Ministry. This position does not reflect Zarif’s opinion as such, but that of Rouhani’s team. Therefore, Khamenei does not want the next government to be reformist in nature so as not to disagree with him on political issues.
What does this Iranian political landscape mean to its Gulf neighbors and how will it affect them?
The events taking place within the institutions of the Iranian regime send the message that internal changes are taking place. These changes will not bring the moderates or reformists back to power, but will enshrine the influence of extremists, who adopt a critical and even hostile discourse towards a number of Arab and Gulf states. These politicians will support tougher foreign policy positions after the presidential election, especially on the discussions related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, if the negotiations underway in Vienna did not allow for an outcome. reach an agreement before the inauguration of the next president. .
The policy of the new fundamentalist government will be based on extracting the greatest political, security and economic gains, alongside a tactical adjustment of its regional influence map, as well as its support for militias and parties loyal to it in Iraq. , Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. . He will also seek to take advantage of his regional influence to negotiate harder with neighboring countries, contrary to Rouhani’s diplomatic approach.
Khamenei will be the “maestro” of foreign policy, which is essentially under his authority according to the Iranian constitution. This gives him broad powers, especially since he has repeatedly emphasized that the Iranian Foreign Ministry is only an executor of policy.

The events taking place within the institutions of the Iranian regime send the message that internal changes are taking place.

Hassan Al-Mustafa

The supreme leader, as solid as he is in his political positions and strict in his administration, is aware that the Iranian people have great economic needs and that there are complaints in many towns and villages. It will therefore seek to alleviate this congestion by obtaining positive results in a new JCPOA agreement with the P5 + 1, which would ease the American sanctions on the Iranian regime, giving it access to certain funds and the possibility of exchanging and concluding agreements with. European and American companies, which would support the labor market in Iran.
In the Gulf, Khamenei could seek to ease tensions with Iran’s Arab neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia, as a continued state of isolation will damage the reputation and image of Tehran, which has already suffered. much wrong. He is also well aware of Saudi Arabia’s strategic position and influence in the Arab world and beyond, depending on the extent to which Iran’s regional behavior changes.
Therefore, whether or not Raisi becomes, as expected, the next president, Khamenei will retain control of the game and the government, parliament and IRGC will only be obedient tools for the implementation of his will.

  • Hassan Al-Mustafa is a Saudi writer and researcher interested in Islamic movements, the development of religious discourse, and relations between the Gulf Cooperation Council states and Iran. Twitter: @Halmustafa

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the editors in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News

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