Iran Election Guide

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Iran Snap Analysis: Khamenei's Offensive Stalls?

Only 48 hours after the start of the Supreme Leader's PR offensive in the religious centre of Qom, and its momentum appears to be slowing, if not stopping.

Tuesday's public setpiece of the reception for Ayatollah Khamenei and his speech was always going to provide positive images. The bigger political question was how he would be received in private by Qom's clerics.

Iranian state media struggled on Tuesday to put the gloss of unity on the first meeting, given the notable absences among the attendees --- e.g., all of Qom's maraje (sources of emulation) --- and Wednesday's second effort has made even less impression.

While one senior cleric, Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, smiled for the photographers, others were still missing. No Safi Golpayegani, no Mousavi Ardebili, no Sane'i, no Vahid Khorasani.

Press TV did not even bother to mention the encounter, and the Islamic Republic News Agency only posted an account after a set of suitable photographs and a summary appeared on Khamenei's website. Fars did try to get out front with the story...for a total of two paragraphs.

The most incisive coverage comes instead from a leading EA correspondent on Iran: " Looks like Khamenei's mighty propaganda machine finally scored a Pyrrhic victory. Even Makarem is not an extremely senior Ayatollah. Let's see if they drag Saanei, Shobeyri, Mousavi Ardabili, or any other of the big wigs into the frame tomorrow --- I strongly doubt it."  

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