Iran Election Guide

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Iran Analysis: The Politicians Unite to Fight Ahmadinejad

Less than four years ago, most politicians within the Iranian system --- all the way to the Supreme Leader --- united behind the effort to keep Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the Presidency, even as many Iranians questioned the legitimacy of his re-election.

Today they are rallying against Ahmadinejad as their political enemy.

A conjunction of statements by two conservative politicians on Thursday --- carried in the outlet of a third, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani --- make the point.

Using an indirect route to challenge Ahmadinejad, Habibollah Asgarouladi, a senior member of the Motalefeh Party, spoke about those who used to be the primary enemies of the conservatives. Without calling for the release of 2009 Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, Asgarouladi said they had not given up their place in the Iranian nezam (system). They had been surrounded by those who were pursuing sedition, but the Islamic Republic "should not let them go" to those seditionists.

And in the midst of an escalating fight between the Ahmadinejad camp and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani --- see Wednesday's analysis --- Asgarouladi said the attacks on Rafsanjani, "who is faithful to the nezam", are "unbearable".

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Reza Bahonar took the direct path in his attack. He said there were three groups in the June 2013 Presidential election. There were the principlists. Then were the former enemy, the "reformists whose leaders should repent".

Then there was Ahmadinejad, who now "talks like a radical reformist" and thus, presumably, is beyond repentance. Bahonar drove the point home: "Ahmadinejad should be careful not to join in the discourse of sedition and foreigners" in the forthcoming election.

Of course, the quarrelling between the President and other conservative and principlist politicians is far from new. As early as January 2010 --- seven months after they had saved Ahmadinejad and his questionable "victory" --- figures like Larijani were planning Ahmadinejad's downfall.

However, that manoeuvring has always been in a kaleidoscope of contests with other groups such as the Green Movement and the reformists. With those groups harassed, intimidated, and beaten --- sometimes literally --- to the political margins, the battle line is coalescing into a direct fight to ensure that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also banished from influence.


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