Crunching the numbers of Iran’s presidential election

The presidential election in Iran is over, and Hassan Rouhani has been selected to a second term.  Already there are strong allegations of fraud and vote-rigging, especially from the camp loyal to Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

The vote-rigging industry in Iran under the mullahs’ rule has been a very long-lasting practice.  One of the most common methods is simply to multiply the true number of all the votes for all candidates, to legitimize the collective process for the better good of the entire regime apparatus.

The mullahs are also known to print a large number of voting slips, far more than enough, and place them in ballot boxes at a variety of pit stops.  This is, again, aimed at depicting a canvas of very large voter participation.

The most important example was unveiled by former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi in 2009, when he said the Interior Ministry had printed an extra 22 to 32 million voting slips.  Moreover, a certain entity in the Interior Ministry, known as the “Vote Compiling Room,” is where any and all types of statistics are literally materialized.

Of course, this was back in 2009.  In this year’s election, eight years down the road, the “printing” phenomenon escalated to an enormous scale.  According to reports published by state media, the number of ballots printed for this year’s vote was over 200 million.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency, affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, unveiled these numbers while specifying that the number of eligible voters in Iran was 56,410,234.

It is worth noting that 200 million voting papers were printed for three rounds of elections, all held on May 19:

  •       presidential election
  •       city and village council elections
  •       midterm parliamentary elections

For the first two, 56 million voting papers was needed.  However, for the midterm parliamentary elections held in only four provinces, there was no need for another 60 to 70 million voting papers – especially since the constituencies were related to one city and a few towns:

1) Maraghe and Ajab Sheer (northwest Iran), population 314,000

2) Ahar and Harees (northwest Iran), population 192,000

3) City of Isfahan (central Iran), population around 1.6 million

4) Bandar Lange, Bestak, and Parsiyan (southern Iran), population less than 200,000

The total number of eligible voters in these four constituencies is less than 2.5 million people.

This brings us to the conclusion that these three different elections did not need anything more than 150 to 160 million voting slips.  The question is, what does this make of the 40 million extra voting slips printed?  Where did they end up?

Needless to say, according to the Interior Ministry’s own official numbers, in all the years of Iran being ruled by the mullahs, 25 to 49 percent of eligible voters have refused to cast their ballots.  Again, this is according to the Interior Ministry’s numbers.  Rest assured that the truth is far higher.

While Iran claimed that 73 percent of the eligible voters turned out for this year’s presidential election, of the 2.5 million Iranians living abroad, only 6 percent cast their ballots, according to the Interior Ministry.

Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Tehran’s former mayor and a presidential candidate, said this regime represents only 4 percent of Iran’s population.  Considering the vote-engineering seen in this round, we can reach a reasonable conclusion that only 6 to 7 percent of the Iranian populace actually cast their votes on May 19.

And as the elections have come to an end, popular protests across the country have intensified.  Many Iranians have invested in the Caspian housing firm, only to see their money plundered.  This has sparked a string of protests across the country.

Of course, considering the intense political disputes among this regime’s various factions, more light will be shed on the entire scope of the vote-rigging process practiced in this year’s elections.

This is the true nature of a regime that represents only a single-digit percentage of the Iranian people.

The state of Iran’s presidential election after recent exits

Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf’s early exit on Tuesday from Iran’s presidential election even prior to the May 19 polls, with no candidates until now forecasted to gain more than 50% of the votes, came as an unexpected turn of events.

This can be the result of a conclusion reached by the hardliner camp from the 2013 presidential election where their chances were hurt with none of their candidates willing to step aside in favor of their all-out interests.

The Status Quo

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his camp have most likely decided to set aside the deceiving smiles of incumbent President Hassan Rouhani and American educated Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in the first round, and bring in figures known to adopt harsher tones.

Mostafa Mir-Salim, a conservative former minister of culture and Islamic guidance, will most likely follow in Ghalibaf’s footsteps. He never had any meaningful chance in the polls and was only kept to level the playing field and set three “hardliners” against three so-called “moderates/reformists”.

Khamenei loyalists will now be rallying behind Ebrahim Raisi, known as an insider figure enjoying the Supreme Leader’s support. He has climbed up the political ladder through the judiciary and out of the spotlight until the past year or so.

Ebrahim Raisi. (Raisi.org)

Known as the “massacre ayatollah” inside Iran, Raisi has served the mullahs’ so-called “judiciary” for three decades, sending thousands to the gallows to ensure his rise in the ranks. Raisi’s signature trademark is his notorious role in the summer 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members and supporters of the banned Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

The Rival Camp

Rouhani, of course, leads three “reformists/moderates”, with his own Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri stepping aside on Monday, and Mostafa Hashemitaba, who served as head of Iran’s National Olympic Committee.

Jahangiri in the debates was seen both challenging the “hardline” rivals head on and taking the hits for Rouhani. Hashemitaba is not a serious candidate as he has openly indicated he is literally voting for Rouhani.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (AFP)

The initial wrap up is the “reformists/moderates” are rallying behind Rouhani. However, a broader analysis shows how ridiculous the entire sham election truly is.

Rouhani himself has nothing to present to the Iranian “voter.” He has failed to inject any new life into the economy and provide for the average Iranian after the nuclear deal, and yet tens of billions of dollars are spent on:
a) the regime’s meddling across the region, mainly in Syria
b) the ballistic missile drive
c) the domestic crackdown machine
d) the nuclear program that was supposed to be curbed

During the past four years Rouhani has also presided over 3,000 executions, meaning two individuals sent to the gallows in Iran each day.

And Then There Were Two

The scene is now set for a race between Raisi and Rouhani. Signs indicate Raisi will ultimately be selected by the regime apparatus. Would Khamenei have even entered Raisi into the race if he had any hesitations about the outcome? The Supreme Leader’s recent remarks can be interpreted as warnings to Rouhani, especially when he cautioned any disruptor of the process will receive a “slap in the face.”

Rouhani also understands a complete “engineering” of the election will not be an easy task for Khamenei due to the deep divides in the regime’s senior ranks.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, a former principalist, and Ali-Akbar Nategh-Nouri, a close confidant of Khamenei, have placed their weight behind Rouhani.

The ruling elite allowed Rouhani into the presidency in 2013 to answer their need for such a tool during the end of Obama’s term to bring an end to international sanctions. With Obama gone and the Trump administration imposing a complete overhaul in US policy vis-à-vis Iran, Khamenei is recalibrating his regime for the tough road ahead.

A Potential New Twist

Another new change in the 2017 election is how Khamenei’s camp is now understanding and embracing the importance of social media.

The candidates are using Twitter, despite being officially banned in Iran, and the messaging app Telegram, with over 20 million users amongst Iranians, to spread their message especially to the younger generation that comprise a very large percentage of Iran’s population.

While hardliners were known to traditionally respect bans placed by the regime on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, a video posted by hardliners themselves went viral showing Rouhani visiting the site of a recent mine disaster and how protesters attacked his vehicle to voice their demands.

Raisi took to Instagram to livestream his rallies and staged question-and-answer sessions, a move considered unprecedented in Iranian politics.

Dissident activists, especially those connected with the PMOI/MEK network of supporters inside the country, have gone the distance recently and braved many risks to make their voices heard and spread the message of Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi.

If arrested these activists will most certainly be tortured and most probably executed as any support for the PMOI/MEK inside Iran would be crossing a major red line for the mullahs’ regime.

Final Thoughts

Despite the regime in its entirety boasting a high general turnout vote, this trend of dissent most definitely signals yet another major boycott by the Iranian population.

Here’s a few lines to take into notice about Iran’s façade presidential election.

“Fact is, in Iran the question isn’t who gets the most votes, but who’s counting them. And those counting them this year clearly favor Raisi, a hardliner judge,” according to The New York Post.

“All this seems to guarantee the next few years will be filled with hostility and provocations directed toward America from Tehran. Indeed, even if Rouhani gets another presidential term, it’s already clear: The age of phony smiles between America and Iran is now over.”

In Lead-Up to Iranian Elections, the Nuclear Deal Becomes a Heated Topic of Debate

It is clear why Iranian President Hassan Rouhani would defend the pact, which is the cornerstone of his foreign policy legacy. His rivals, including influential cleric Ebrahim Raisi and Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, defend the deal in principle and yet pinpoint its lack of effectiveness.

What must not go forgotten is the fact that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is the true sculptor of the Iran nuclear deal, which is also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Prior to Rouhani’s presidency, Khamenei contacted the Obama administration through Oman to signal his readiness for negotiations.

Today, grave concerns of international reactions, especially the new U.S. administration, have kept all presidential candidates in line regarding the JCPOA. And voices in Washington are now constantly describing the JCPOA as the worst possible deal and calling for major reviews, causing deep worries in Tehran. This is exactly why Raisi, known to be Khamenei’s preferred candidate, has described the JCPOA as a national document. Ghalibaf in his remarks described the JCPOA as an initiative to be respected by all governments.Khamenei had been informed of all the details during this process. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif underscored how all red lines in the talks enjoyed Khamenei’s signature. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi confirmed as well that all fine lines were checked with Khamenei, being the regime’s final arbiter on all matters of state.

Senior Iranian officials have sensed the tides are changing and that the Obama “golden era” is over.

Iran’s economic circumstances are in such a condition today that its leaders are, in fact, in desperately in need of the JCPOA’s continuation, despite all the accompanying dilemmas. Tehran is at least permitted to sell its oil now and a few low-level banks from overseas are doing business with this regime. If not, Khamenei would have pulled the plug when the United States extended its ten-year embargoes or imposed new non-nuclear sanctions.

Iran is also facing a range of challenges severely limiting its economic endeavors.

“Many foreign investors have been put off by obstacles to doing business such as the poor state of Iranian banks, the heavy role of powerful hard-line institutions such as the elite Revolutionary Guards in the economy, a lack of clarity about the legal system as well as lingering unilateral U.S. sanctions,” according to a Reuters report.

“More than a year after the deal between Tehran and the U.S., UK, France, China, Russia and Germany came into effect, Iran’s attempts to woo international investors have borne little fruit,” the Financial Times explains.

Major French banks have also refused to do business with Iran’s financial institutions.

“Despite the efforts made, unfortunately major French banks are refusing to cooperate with Iranian banks in fear of US punitive measures,” Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported, citing Ali Ahani, Iran’s Ambassador to France.

“Banking restrictions are intact and money cannot be transferred through the SWIFT international systems,” said Iran’s Aeronautics Organization chief Hamid Pahlavani.

In the meantime, U.S. lawmakers are calling for additional attention to Iran’s use of commercial planes to assist terrorists and raising the stakes by demanding the cancellation of the Boeing deal to sell new planes to Tehran.

“These photos of Boeing executives smiling and glad-handing with a prominent member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are truly sickening. No self-respecting American should shake Hossein Alaei’s hands. They have American blood on them,” one report in the Washington Free Beacon noted.

It is the same picture on the other side of the Atlantic and further to the East.

“A preliminary deal signed by Bouygues last year to build and run a new terminal at Tehran’s Khomeini airport has been canceled, a spokesman for the French construction group said,” Reuters reported.

“All the positive results of the nuclear deal and lifting of sanctions have been overshadowed by the low prices of oil,” economist Saeed Laylaz told Reuters in a phone interview from Tehran.

All said and done, whatever the result of Iran’s presidential election, the regime has no capacity to abandon the JCPOA.

What Does the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Want Out of Iran’s Upcoming Elections?

Can the faction known as the “principalists” in Iran, loyal to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, engineer the upcoming presidential elections‘ outcome in a manner similar to 2005 and 2009? Back then, this group resorted to fraud and vote-rigging to have their desired candidate selected. Is the Khamenei-allied faction even seeking to engineer the election outcome against the faction currently behind President Hassan Rouhani, who claim to be “reformists” or “moderates”? If the answer is yes, what measures have been taken so far?

The truth is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Khamenei’s inner circle have been planning these measures and plotting their steps for at least several months.

Their plan essentially relies on forcing the election into a second round, similar to the 2009 scenario when Ahmadinejad was selected from the ballot boxes. This time around, the Khamenei faction is seeking to have Ebrahim Raisi, a cleric known for his notorious role in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, or Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, selected as president. Ghalibaf is a former IRGC member known to have undergone Airbus pilot training in France.

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To implement this, this faction first held a session with senior IRGC officials, including former IRGC intelligence chief Mehdi Taeb, IRGC chief Mohammad Ali Jafari, IRGC Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani and others to establish the Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces, dubbed JAMNA, according to its Farsi abbreviation. Mohammad Bagher Zolghadr is the chair of this new entity.

Zolghadr is known for his role in rigging the 2005 presidential election that led to the selection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency while claiming to enjoy the support of 20 million voters. Zolghadr was then the regime’s chairman of the armed forces Joint Chiefs of Staff and deputy to former IRGC chief Mohsen Rezaie. He was then appointed as deputy interior minister in Ahmadinejad’s cabinet while maintaining his IRGC posts.

“The [2005] presidential election was unprecedented, held under very complicated political circumstances when foreign powers and acquisitive currents inside the country had long planned to direct the election results in their favor and prevent the establishment of a principalist cabinet. Complicated actions were needed and the principalists were fortunately able to gain the majority’s support,” Zolghadr said following Ahmadinejad’s victory.

In January 2013 Ali Saeedi, Khamenei’s envoy in the IRGC, made interesting remarks about the elections. “It is our [IRGC] inherent duty to logically engineer the elections,” he said.

Although Saeedi provided no further explanation about “logically” engineering the vote, his remarks shed further light on their plan and agenda. He referred to individuals, who according to him, attempted to “divide the state between the selected and the elected.” “In fact, those who were selected acted far better than those who were elected,” he stipulated.

This is exactly why in the past few months JAMNA has attempted to reach a consensus over a single candidate through the IRGC’s continued intervention. Numerous sessions were held with Khamenei to have him agree with Raisi taking part in the race and all principalist candidates rallying behind him.

The IRGC continued its engineering through the Guardian Council by disqualifying the vast majority of candidates. A week prior to the Council’s final announcement rumors indicated only six of over 1,600 candidates would be qualified. This made it clear all announcements by the Guardian Council were in fact decided previously by the IRGC.

The combination of the current six candidates in the presidential election is the necessary package for the IRGC to correctly rig the entire vote outcome.

An issue discussed on a daily basis among the IRGC senior command is how to plan their next move, aiming to inflict the utmost damage to the Rouhani faction and yet also prevent any possible ignition of massive protests and/or nationwide uprisings similar to those of 2009.

Following the candidate vetting process leaving only six candidates, this IRGC plan has been pursued on a daily basis in three different fields.

First, they have sought to increase the number of votes and finesse specific rigging methods. Second, they have expanded their propaganda activities in the media. And third, they have taken daily measures and guided the general rigging apparatus, such as attacking Rouhani’s brother Fereidoun Rouhani on his involvement in theft, creating havoc at Rouhani’s campaign events, depicting Raisi as the candidate of all factions.

In all three fields the IRGC apparatus enjoys a daily role, all while this security entity should have nothing to do with the elections.

Of course, Rouhani has nothing to boast about either as he too oversaw more than 3,000 executions during his tenure as president. He is also known to have ordered the horrific 1999 student uprising crackdown, especially during the protests in Tehran. Throughout his political career he has played a role in the regime’s decision-making bodies and is known to be a figure very well acquainted with the regime’s security apparatus. Rouhani was also Rafsanjani’s right-hand-man during the Iran-Iraq War, where the regime dispatched juveniles to the frontlines.

In the end, how far the IRGC’s plans can be implemented in practice is a different story altogether, depending highly on a range of factors. For example, considering the fact that Rouhani’s Interior Ministry is the administrative body running the election, will the IRGC be able to implement its objectives?

Only time will tell.

Iran’s presidential election: Nothing new after 38 years

We were recently witness to the first debate of Iran’s 2017 presidential election, which can be evaluated from a variety of perspectives.  One simple conclusion is that all candidates failed to provide any hope for a better future.

Remembering how the 2009 debates paved the way for nationwide uprisings, rattling the regime’s entire establishment, this year’s debate was shortened in timing to prevent any uncontrollable sparks.  Despite all this, the arguments provided a vivid view into the regime’s critical domestic crises.

More important is the fact that, similar to all previous so-called “elections” in this regime, no candidate was able to provide a comprehensive political and economic agenda.  Twelve rounds of presidential elections, parliamentary polls, and votes for city councils have provided nothing but more of the same.

Why is it that nothing changes in Iran?  Why is it that with a new president in the U.S., all policies are completely refurbished, including immigration, health, education, and so forth?  The Trump administration’s foreign policy is being overhauled, to say the least.

Why is it that in smaller countries more similar to Iran – say, the Philippines, Chile, or Turkey – a new government brings with it changes across the spectrum in people’s lives, all linked to the state’s domestic and foreign policies?

Yet when it comes to Iran, we see nothing but a cycle of the same factions coming and going, while further plundering the country’s wealth and making the least difference in people’s lives.

The reason must be pursued in the very roots and nature of this regime.  This is a dictatorship ruled by the four percent, as described by presidential candidate and Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf in the recent debate.  A vast 96% majority of Iran’s population remains under the wrath of this cruel minority that relies on a completely fascist-minded set of laws resembling anything but a constitution.

And when elections are held, all candidates are vigorously vetted by the Guardian Council, a body of 12 conservative clerics, of whom six are appointed directly and the other six indirectly by the supreme leader himself.  And when a president is actually selected, he is nothing more than a puppet, acting according to the supreme leader’s will.  Based on the regime’s “constitution,” the president’s authority must be confirmed by the supreme leader no matter what the people have “voted.”

All this brings us to a certain set of conclusions:

Firstly – The president in Iran has no true power or authority, as the supreme leader enjoys the final say in all subjects, including national security and foreign affairs.

Secondly – No regime president has ever had any specific economic-social agenda.  Assuming any one of them had prepared such a blueprint, his agenda would need to be in complete compliance with the supreme leader’s demands.

Thus, one may ask the purpose of holding elections in such an establishment.

Mohammad-Tai Mesbah-Yazdi, an influential senior cleric in the mullahs’ ruling elite, provided probably the best response in an interview:

Elections have two purposes[.] … [T]he nation considers itself involved in establishing a religious state. As a result, they will further strive in supporting a state established with their backing, leading to the realization of important religious state goals.

The second purpose is … the importance of the people’s role and votes disarming opponents. They intended to depict this Islamic establishment as authoritarian. However, when the people’s votes are respected, opponents will lose all excuses[.]

This brings us back to our initial argument: as faces change in this regime, it is to no avail for the greater good of the people.

For example:

  • The so-called “reformist” Mohammad Khatami, Iran’s president from 1997 to 2005, doubled the number of executions in comparison to 1996 and quadrupled them in comparison to 1995!
  • The so-called “principalist” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was even worse, and the “moderate” Hassan Rouhani has stood above all with a record of 3,000 executions in four years.
  • Poverty and human rights violations have been on a continuous increase.  Iran has 16 intelligence services, and the numbers could go up, according to the semi-official Fars news agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards.
  • The mullahs’ own laws define around 1,800 counts of crimes that people must not commit!  The slate includes what clothes to wear, what to eat, what to read, and what satellite TV they are permitted to watch.  It is worth noting that France has only 300 such criminal measures.
  • The country’s national currency has constantly nosedived.
  • Embezzlement cases have been on the rise year after year.
  • Meddling in the internal affairs of regional countries, including Iran’s involvement in Syria, has climaxed.  This has been parallel to Tehran continuing its nuclear program and ballistic missile drive.

Neither in domestic policy nor foreign strategy can we pinpoint any significant differences among Khamenei, Rafsanjani, Khatami, Ahmadinejad, and Rouhani.

To this end, don’t hold your breath or have any hope that the May 19 presidential “election” – read: “selection” – will render anything new from within the mullahs’ regime.

Understanding Iran’s presidential elections crisis

It appears Iran’s presidential elections, scheduled for May 19th, are becoming ever more complicated. The question of who might face the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani was a trending topic recently, including the significant news of Ebrahim Raisi‘s entry into the race (Raisi is a mullah very close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei).

The final list of six candidates in the upcoming so-called election — read selection — was announced on Thursday. The slate includes Rouhani, Raisi, Iran’s First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, former Minister of Culture Mostafa Mirsalim and former Industry Minister Mostafa Hashemitaba. A first glance indicates the remaining four will most probably step aside eventually in favor of Rouhani and Raisi.

Khamenei, the highest ranking official in Iran, is facing two major political knots in the elections. His faction, known as the “hardliners” or “principalists,” has been divided over who to promote their candidate against Rouhani, the so-called “moderate” or “reformist.” Khamenei’s faction faced a similar situation in 2012 and 2013, leading to his assent to the election of Rouhani, who was supported by Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who passed away this past January.

This is a sad story. For obvious reasons, I am changing names and certain details to protect the memory of…

This first dilemma before Khamenei escalated to an unprecedented level, forcing him to very publicly call on the firebrand former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to not take part in the polls. Ahmadinejad disobeyed and registered his candidacy, only to be disqualified on Thursday by the ultraconservative Guardian Council, a 12-cleric body whose members are appointed directly and indirectly by Khamenei himself.

The second issue hovers over the highly sensitive subject of Khamenei’s successor as supreme leader. Raisi’s name has been heard for some time, causing quite a stir. Rafsanjani was knee-deep into this subject during the elections of Iran’s last parliament and Assembly of Experts, the entity responsible on appointing the next supreme leader.

Khamenei’s elements suffered a major defeat then. To this end, selecting the ideal figure as his successor is the second dilemma standing before Khamenei. And Rafsanjani’s death does not make the situation any easier.

Khamenei also has reservations on placing his full weight behind Raisi in the presidential elections, fearing such a policy will create dangerous divides in his establishment. Both factions in Iran share this sentiment, knowing such rifts will allow Iran’s powder keg society to explode after suffering four decades of human rights violations and economic hardship.

The issue of Khamenei’s successor goes far beyond the presidential elections, and yet it is linked to the polls in an intriguing manner. Khamenei seeks to take advantage of Raisi’s presidency as a springboard to his appointment as his successor. Despite having the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps‘ loyalty, Khamenei knows he does not enjoy his establishment’s full support. The roots of selecting a supreme leader has been a major dilemma dating back to the 1989 death of regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini.

In 1988, Khomeini ordered the massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main Iranian opposition group to this day. His designated successor, the late Ayatollah Hassan Ali Montazeri, protested Khomeini’s fatwa, leading to his house arrest and banishing from the ruling elite.

This created a major rift among the regime’s senior ranks, fueled by the dispute between Khomeini and the PMOI/MEK. With Khamenei becoming very ill, and Rafsanjani out of the picture, the subject before this regime is too complex for Khamenei to consider easily resolved as a simple dispute between his regime’s factions. This is especially important as Iran finds its role in Syria becoming a major burden.

The question is, is this entire scenario not against Khamenei’s interest?

Rest assured Khamenei had thought this move through many times before ever mentioning Raisi’s name, knowing his role in the “Death Commission” supervising the 1988 massacre has, and will, cause further dilemmas in the future. To this end, both factions in this regime have suffered defeats.

At this stage, no rival can take advantage of their opposition’s weakness in their own interest. Rouhani, also having a member of the “Death Commission” Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, ironically, as his justice minister, finds himself in a very weak position, having lost Rafsanjani and with the July 2015 nuclear deal with world powers not having changed the status quo for ordinary Iranians. However, Khamenei’s faction, unable to unite behind a single candidate, cannot adopt a strong position against Rouhani.

In short, this leaves the entire regime facing a major crisis prior to the crucial presidential elections turning point. Both factions are also terrified of a possible repeat of the 2009 scenario of nationwide uprisings, considered a red line for the entire Iranian regime establishment.

What the near future holds for Iran prior to the elections is a matter to be seen for all. What is certain, however, is the fact that such a scene has the potential of exploding into a disaster for the ruling mullahs.

As we near the so-called election day in Iran, the regime sees intensifying crisis, with potential developments ending in results in favor of the people and a future democratic Iran without the mullahs in power.

Iran’s 2017 Election: Ahmadinejad’s Candidacy Signals the Regime’s Weakening

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s entrance into Iran’s electoral race is deeply dangerous.

At a time when public hatred in Iran nears a high point for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani due to his report card of deception and influential cleric Ebrahim Raisi for his role in massive killings and massacres, firebrand former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registered his candidacy for Iran’s presidential election. Ahmadinejad’s return has furthered already dangerous divides among the Iranian regime’s senior ranks.

First and foremost, this sheds important light on the weakness of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and serves as a litmus test of the entire regime. Ahmadinejad claims to have remained loyal to his pledge to Khamenei to keep out of this election’s fiasco, and that his candidacy is merely aimed to support that of Hamid Baqai, a former vice president to Ahmadinejad known for his role in the notorious Ministry of Intelligence. However, the rendered disputes inside the regime prove otherwise.

“This was an act of suicide. He strapped a suicide belt around himself and entered the race… he registered despite the Supreme Leader’s specific recommendation, and this is insubordination,” said Kanani Moghadam, a member of Khamenei’s faction.

Another Khamenei loyalist went a step further to accuse Ahmadinejad of staging a rebellion. Ahmadinejad’s candidacy in the elections “is a dangerous development and officials should look into this matter. In my opinion, this paves the path for many more disobediences,” said Gharavian, a conservative cleric.

Akrami, another member of Khamenei’s camp, called for Ahmadinejad’s prosecution.

“The judiciary must set all reservations aside and see into this case to officially determine to what extent he has lied and what complications he has caused for the country… From this day forward the public prosecutor’s office still enjoys the ability to see into this matter,” he threatened.

Even members of the so-called “moderate” Rouhani faction revealed their true nature in issuing hostile remarks.

“Ahmadinejad will pay an extremely heavy price for his [recent] actions,” said Sadegh Zibakalam, an influential figure in Rouhani’s camp.

Saeed Hajarian, a former Ministry of Intelligence deputy and a current Rouhani advisor, shed light on the power struggle among the so-called “principalists.”

“In these elections all parties have placed their effort to prevent any rifts. Despite all this, we are witnessing such a division while all of them originate from a single trend. When it comes down to slicing the cake, however, they have their disputes and it’s not clear until when such a division will continue among their ranks,” he explained.

The fact is that all of the Iranian regime’s factions will continue this power struggle over a larger share of power and Iran’s wealth, while remaining an undisputable aspect of this corrupt establishment.

The Associated Press described Ahmadinejad’s candidacy as capable of widening existing rifts among Iran’s factions. Last September, Khamenei specifically made it clear how he felt about this issue.

“A certain individual came to see me and… I told him you should not participate… I didn’t even say don’t participate. I said I don’t see it fit… the country will be polarized if you do,” he warned.

“This may now cause divides… one saying that certain individual said, one saying that certain individual didn’t say, another saying why weren’t these remarks made public? Now you have it. Our enemies are listening to take advantage. You have to be very careful,” the Supreme Leader added.

Khamenei’s camp also sought to take advantage of this development in their continued attacks against Rouhani.

“When an individual makes baseless promises to resolve issues in 100 days only to receive votes, it is obvious they have no understanding of how to administer and manage the country. They are then forced to resort to lies… the price of deviated individuals returning to politics is the result of this cabinet only talking the talk, and not walking the walk,” Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said.

In the meantime, the Kayhan daily, known as Khamenei’s mouthpiece, ridiculed Rouhani for failing to deliver pledges based on the Iran nuclear deal.

“It has now been proven how all that brouhaha about foreign delegations coming and going opened no knots… no bank is willing to cooperate with us… Importing consumables, including even agricultural products, has literally crippled Iranian production. A large number of people are unemployed and huge investments have resulted in complete bankruptcies. Industrial complexes are closing down and many are working at half capacity,” the piece reads.

All said and done, this bring us to the conclusion that the Iranian regime in its entirety is facing a major dilemma, if not crisis. While the international community, especially the Obama administration, missed the opportunity to stand alongside the people of Iran in 2009 in their call for freedom, democracy and human rights, we are once again before a certain turning point in Iran’s modern history.