The Guardian Council, a very powerful and influential body in Iran’s theocracy, voted on Thursday to disqualify Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the regime’s president from 2005 to 2013, announcing he lacks the necessary standards to take part as a candidate in the May 19 presidential election.

 

This council, consisting of six senior mullahs appointed directly by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, stamps approval to the parliament’s bills and vets all election candidates.

Based on the decision of this council, the candidates able to take part in the May 19 polls are: the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, current Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, former head of Iran’s Physical Education Organization Hashemitaba, Ebrahim Raisi, a mullah involved in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, former industry ministry Mostafa Mirsalim and Tehran’s current mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf.

Ahmadinejad’s disqualification was not unexpected. Last September Khamenei used a public speech to ban him from announcing his candidacy. However, last week he officially registered as a presidential candidate. The mullahs’ main problem was not the fact that Ahmadinejad discredited the Supreme Leader. He also took a step in contrast to measures aimed at “engineering the elections.”

This is a common term used in theocratic elections, meaning centralized control over all presidential election phases to have the Supreme Leader’s considered candidate come out victorious.

Despite being a headache and a thorn in Khamenei’s back, Ahmadinejad still remains a member of the ruling faction. If he had surpassed this phase, he would be able to gain the support of the Supreme Leader’s faction and decrease Raisi’s chances of becoming president.

To this end, the elimination of Ahmadinejad prevents the fragmentation of Khamenei’s faction and prevents such a development ending in Rouhani’s favor. Mirsalim and Hashemitaba lack any significance in the upcoming election. Forecasts show Ghalibaf and Jahangiri will also step aside in favor of their allies. As a result, the election “war” in this theocracy will be between Rouhani and Raisi.

Despite the election results, Ahmadinejad joined the ranks most other presidents in the Iranian regime’s history.

1st president – Abolhassan Banisadr (1980-81), set aside and fled the country.

2nd president – Mohammad Ali Rajaie (1981), assassinated.

3rd president – Ali Khamenei (1981-89), was fortunate and became the Supreme Leader.

4th president – Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989-97), banished from the ruling elite and disqualified in the 2013 presidential election race.

5th president – Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005), has been literally banished and even the publication of his picture in Iranian media is currently banned.

6th president – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-13), considered a deviant and disqualified from taking part in the 2017 presidential election.

Mohammad Amin (@EconomieIran) is a senior research fellow for the Paris-based Fondation d’Etudes pour le Moyen-Orient (FEMO) or Foundation for the Study of the Middle East. He has written several books and essays about the ruling theocracy, the transformation of Iran’s political economy under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East.

The Guardian Council, a very powerful and influential body in Iran’s theocracy, voted on Thursday to disqualify Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the regime’s president from 2005 to 2013, announcing he lacks the necessary standards to take part as a candidate in the May 19 presidential election.

 

This council, consisting of six senior mullahs appointed directly by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, stamps approval to the parliament’s bills and vets all election candidates.

Based on the decision of this council, the candidates able to take part in the May 19 polls are: the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, current Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, former head of Iran’s Physical Education Organization Hashemitaba, Ebrahim Raisi, a mullah involved in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, former industry ministry Mostafa Mirsalim and Tehran’s current mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf.

Ahmadinejad’s disqualification was not unexpected. Last September Khamenei used a public speech to ban him from announcing his candidacy. However, last week he officially registered as a presidential candidate. The mullahs’ main problem was not the fact that Ahmadinejad discredited the Supreme Leader. He also took a step in contrast to measures aimed at “engineering the elections.”

This is a common term used in theocratic elections, meaning centralized control over all presidential election phases to have the Supreme Leader’s considered candidate come out victorious.

Despite being a headache and a thorn in Khamenei’s back, Ahmadinejad still remains a member of the ruling faction. If he had surpassed this phase, he would be able to gain the support of the Supreme Leader’s faction and decrease Raisi’s chances of becoming president.

To this end, the elimination of Ahmadinejad prevents the fragmentation of Khamenei’s faction and prevents such a development ending in Rouhani’s favor. Mirsalim and Hashemitaba lack any significance in the upcoming election. Forecasts show Ghalibaf and Jahangiri will also step aside in favor of their allies. As a result, the election “war” in this theocracy will be between Rouhani and Raisi.

Despite the election results, Ahmadinejad joined the ranks most other presidents in the Iranian regime’s history.

1st president – Abolhassan Banisadr (1980-81), set aside and fled the country.

2nd president – Mohammad Ali Rajaie (1981), assassinated.

3rd president – Ali Khamenei (1981-89), was fortunate and became the Supreme Leader.

4th president – Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989-97), banished from the ruling elite and disqualified in the 2013 presidential election race.

5th president – Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005), has been literally banished and even the publication of his picture in Iranian media is currently banned.

6th president – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-13), considered a deviant and disqualified from taking part in the 2017 presidential election.

Mohammad Amin (@EconomieIran) is a senior research fellow for the Paris-based Fondation d’Etudes pour le Moyen-Orient (FEMO) or Foundation for the Study of the Middle East. He has written several books and essays about the ruling theocracy, the transformation of Iran’s political economy under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East.



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