Eight years ago, the Iranians were tired. Tired of sanctions, international blockade and low wages. The unresolved problem of the nuclear program threatened to escalate the conflict with the West, and the ring of enemy neighbours was tightening, regardless of Tehran’s defensive announcements. Eight years ago, the Iranians gasped for breath within the Islamic Revolution and agreed to the liberal experiment of Hassan Rouhani. Today more than ever we can see that this was one big misunderstanding.
Liberalism = Corruption
The President of Iran at the end of the second term has not kept any of his promises. He did not end the argument over the nuclear program, and what is worse, despite the concessions made as part of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action, he did not obtain even a lasting leniency of sanctions. There was no announced economic recovery, but the level of corruption increased. It turned out that the supporters of the Western path, openness and liberalization show greed, certainly not less than the mullahs they attacked before, only that they share with the seized public money much less willingly…
Before the presidential election on June 18th, the prospects of the circle still called “Reformists” for a long time seemed poor, despite the return of the Democratic team to the White House. As we know, for example, from its attitude towards escalation in Palestine – despite a certain change of tone, Joe Biden’s administration does not dare to change the basis of American policy, which Donald Trump additionally raised to the level of Hyper-Zionism and Anti-Iranianness. On the other hand, the Iranian Liberals did not give up, after all, playing for life, property and the prospects of integrating the state into global structures. Fortunately, however, in the Islamic Republic, the Platonic wisdom-religious mechanism operates in such cases.
“Moderate Conservatism” As The West’s Secret Weapon
As analysts agreed, the hope of the pro-Western party in the upcoming elections was not the formal leader of the Reformers, insipid and colourless Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri, a sufficiently discredited co-firming of the Rouhanist scams. Realizing that overly liberal slogans had been blown, the Iranian Westerners were supposed to bet more or less discreetly on Ali Larijani, the former Chairman of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (i.e. Parliament), presented as a moderate conservative. On the one hand, his past among the Revolutionary Guards and the National Security Council would soothe more conservative voters, discouraged from Reformers. On the other hand, the managerial style and exposed good foreign contacts would be a guarantee for the Liberals to continue the policy of opening. And above all, coming from the clan that M. Ahmadinejad himself recognized as one of the symbols of Iranian corruption, A. Larijani would bring together those interested in doing business on both sides of the Persian political chessboard.
How Sad The Legend Ends…
And finally, to further weaken the chances of Conservatives, the secret weapon of Liberals was to be…Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Although the former President is more popular in Western anti-system circles than in his own country, his strongly pro-social socio-political platform still does not allow him to be considered a complete loser. The sensitive, self-centred, ambitious M. Ahmadinejad still seems to resent his former colleagues from the broad fundamentalist front that they did not recognize his one-man leadership and did not participate in subsequent less and less successful political projects. So, although it was known from the beginning that the passionate ex-President with his declarations departing too far from the line of the Revolution would not be accepted by the Guardian Council (which is a necessary registration requirement), the Liberals could nevertheless bet on some division of anti-Western voters. Besides all, it was also obvious that once again demonstratively offended M. Ahmadinejad would not call on his supporters to support any of remaining Conservative candidates, silently betting on their repeated defeat. Unfortunately, but a charismatic leader, the hope of all anti-Imperialists today is playing an ambitious game: “The worse – the better. When they will have no choice – they will come back to me!” And this is acting not only to the detriment of the Revolution, but also the most vital interests of the Islamic Republic.
Just a few days ago, it might have seemed that the Liberals’ plan would succeed. A. Larijani actually gained in the polls, among 16 candidates for the presidency, the majority were disparate candidates of various conservative wings, and M. Ahmadinejad, of course, was not registered by the Guardian Council and, of course, behaved as childish as it was assumed, calling for a boycott of the elections. But the Reformers probably forgot that Iran is, above all, a country of the Idea and the Law. And they are guarded by someone above the party games. It is quite obvious that it was the intervention of the Supreme Leader himself, the great Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which overturned the entire liberal plot in just one moment.
The Council eliminated not only M. Ahmadinejad, but also A. Larijani and Vice-President E. Jahangiri. Of course, this provoked protests in which the Reformers had to reveal in practice their play on A. Larijani. President H. Rouhani made an appeal to change the Council’s decision, which can be considered the final kiss of death for rejected candidates. However, the matter is decided by the voice of the Supreme Leader, who defended the questioned decision and the sovereignty of the Guardian Council. Grand Ayatollah also called on candidates to compete for programs and to focus on solving real problems, especially socio-economic: “People don’t care about candidates’ views on social media or foreign policy. Our people are worried by things like unemployment and low income, in particular being the result of wrong policies that suppress national production”- emphasized the Supreme Leader.
Ebrahim Raisi: The Incorruptible
Thus, seven candidates remained on the battlefield, including two Reformers – banker Abdolnaser Hemmati and former Vice-President Mohsen Mehralizadeh, both of them not taken seriously in the polls or even within their own camp. Would that be enough for the Liberals having less than three weeks left to mobilize voters around one of them, even in the usually most pro-Western Tehran?
It is doubtful, despite the fact that theoretically, conservative votes will be divided among the remaining five, with only two of them: Mohsen Rezaji, the former commander of The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Saeed Jalili, one of the most interesting representatives and ideologists of the trend in Iran called “Neo-Principialism” or the Young Conservatism, having noticeable support. In fact, however, only one candidate counts now: Ebrahim Raisi, former Minister of Justice, present Grand Imam of the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad, a man of clean hands. Even his greatest enemies always have to admit that he is a politician never involved in even the slightest scandal. And it is this image, incorruptible and steadfast, in fact completely true, that may be the source of the expected success of E. Raisi.
Iranians are tired today, in 2021. Tired of mock reforms and barren opening to the West. Tired and impatient with corruption, awaiting a development impulse in the economy (coming from the nuclear industry and foreign cooperation with countries rejecting some or all of sanctions, such as Russia and China). Conservatives are on the way to returning to power in Iran precisely because they understand these specific needs, without focusing on the problem of access to FB, or on the other hand not announcing a war with the whole World. That is, because Iran is the hope and support for all honest anti-system, anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist forces. But, fighting for so many decades alone, this state also has its own problems to solve and must strengthen itself to last, also as a bastion for the remnants of freedom and normality across the Globe.
Of course, however, it can also be assumed that the Reformists will not give up without a fight. Eliminated from the elections, they can use the relation that they officially loudly deny, those with overtly sabotage circles trying for years to spread the slogans of “open society” in Iran. So, we can expect provocations, disturbances, attempts to heat up moods – indeed, the next phase of the “struggle for democracy” in this otherwise one of the few truly democratic (in the classic sense of this word) countries. For now, however, this round has been won by the nations of Iran, it has been won by the Supreme Leader, it has been won by the Revolution and the timeless sense of the Islamic Republic.
By Konrad Rękas Via