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Disqualification of former moderate leader in Iran leaves only hardliners

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Disqualification of former moderate leader in Iran leaves only hardliners

Post  Panda on Sun 26 May - 7:12

Rafsanjani's Exit Leaves Only Hardliners

The disqualification of the moderate former leader
increases the power of Iran's conservatives - with implications for the

10:30am UK,
Wednesday 22 May 2013

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is a moderate in hardline

  • Lisa Holland

    Foreign Affairs Correspondent

    More from Lisa | Follow Lisa on

    The exclusion of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and
    another thorn in the conservativesí side, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, from running
    in the Iranian elections could foreshadow even greater repercussions.

    Since its founding in 1979, the Islamic republic has been characterised by
    competing and opposing power centres.

    Barring further surprises, the post of president will now be filled from a
    small group of conservative candidates in Iranís ruling camp, a loose alliance
    of Shia Muslim clerics and Revolutionary Guard commanders.

    That would put the last major state institution under their control ó the
    first time since the 1979 revolution that all state institutions were under the
    firm control of one faction.

    It leads some to speculate that the ruling faction is determined to abolish
    the office of president, which has served as a locus of opposition under the
    populist incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and before him the reformist Mohammad
    Khatami, who pushed for more personal freedoms.

    The remaining candidates reflect the different shades of grey that now make
    up Iranís establishment, a coalition of conservative clerics and Revolutionary
    Guard commanders known as the traditionalists.

    Of the eight who were selected ó out of the 700 hopefuls who signed up ó only
    one, Hassan Rowhani, a former nuclear negotiator, has even slightly different
    stances from the traditionalists.

    The question now is how the urban classes will react; they who mostly gave up
    on politics after the suppression of the 2009 protests following Ahmadinejadís
    disputed re-election.
    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) and
    Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei (L)

    The 2009 event was defined by a rapid vote-count and wide margin in favour of
    his re-election.

    It instigated the largest and most sustained protests in Iran's
    post-revolutionary history. The Supreme Leader and his inner circle do not want
    a repeat of this.

    After 2009 the ensuing crackdown left Iran's burgeoning reform movement
    estranged, imprisoned or scurrying into exile.

    Reformist candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were detained and
    remain under house arrest.

    For the past two years there has been considerable friction amongst Iran's
    hardliners and a widening gulf between Ahmadinejad and Iran's Supreme Leader the
    Ayatollah Khamenei.

    After the election four years ago, the then-Secretary of State Hillary
    Clinton and many academics forecast Iran was descending into a military

    Iran has watched seismic changes amongst its regional neighbours since it
    last held elections.

    The stakes are certainly high - for the direction of the Islamic Republic and
    perhaps the world.

    Iran's nuclear confrontation with the West, international sanctions, a
    disastrous economic crisis and hopes for domestic change could all be affected
    by the result.

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