Iran Today: Age, "Sedition", & the Presidential Election
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 6:39
Joanna Paraszczuk in Abbas Araqchi, EA Iran, EA Live, GGholam Ali Haddad Adel, Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran Elections 2013, Islamic Iran Participation Front, Kamran Bagheri Lankarani, Mehdi Taeb, Mesbah Yazdi, Middle East and Iran, Mujahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organisation, Saeed Jalili

Nikahang Kowsar's vision of Hashemi Rafsanjani and the Supreme Leader in the Presidential election

See also Iran Special: EA's Guide to the Presidential Election
Iran Analysis: Presidential Election --- Good-bye Parties; Hello, Personalities and "Atomised Politics"
Monday's Iran Today: Rafsanjani & Jalili Put Out Campaign Slogans

After the drama of last-minute candidacies over the weekend, Monday was marked by political skirmishes. The most prominent was the attempt by political rivals and hostile media to cut down the campaign of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.

The attacks generally used one of two lines: 1) at 78, Rafsanjani is too old to be an effective President; 2) Rafsanjani supported the forces of "sedition" after the disputed 2009 Presidential election.

Meanwhile, with the Supreme Leader's camp still failing to put forth an alternative to Rafsanjani --- possibilities like Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf were quiet on Monday --- Saeed Jalili, the Secretary of the National Security Council, tried to put himself in the position of being the anointed candidate. Through both traditional and social media, Jalili tried to establish: 1) he is the best candidate for the military; 2) he is the proponent of Iran's science and technology; 3) he has the political and diplomatic skills to lead the Islamic Republic at home and in the region; 4) he is the best defender of religion in the Republic and beyond.

Election Watch: Rafsanjani Bashing (Redux)

Tehran mayor and presidential candidate Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf has lashed out at former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, saying that "a president who has been president for eight years is returning to power? That's more like militarism that democracy."

Qalibaf asked why Rafsanjani wanted to return to power when he had been "16 years in power in perfect harmony and without any tension in your way… and nobody criticized you when you were in power. You were 8 years as head of state and 8 years as head of parliament. From my perspective, the whole government was in your hands… because the Imam [Khomeini] supported you….8 years later you were president and the Supreme Leader supported you…"

Election Watch: Rezaei Publishes Election Pamphlet

In another indication that Iran's 2013 presidential election is moving away from factionalism and towards individual-style campaigning, presidential candidate and former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezaei has used a question and answer with students at Bu-Ali Sina University to issue an election pamphlet setting out answers to key campaign issues.

Rezaei set out broad policies on six main sections: People and Life, Nuclear, Sport, Federalism, Economy, and Foreign Policy. Regarding the nuclear issue, Rezaei spoke about Iran's relations within the region as well as with the US. Previously, Rezaei has focussed almost exclusively on the economy as a pre-campaign platform, as well as criticizing the government.

Presidential Election Watch: Supreme Leader's Man Renews "Sedition" Attack on Rafsanjani

MP Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, a member of the Supreme Leader's "2+1 Committee" has renewed the "sedition" attack on former President Hashemi Rafsanjani by linked him to the detained opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi: “Everyone who supported Mousavi in [the disputed 2009 Presidential election] is today supporting Hashemi Rafsanjani.”

Presidential Election Watch: Rafsanjani's Second Statement

In his second campaign statement, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has implicitly countered accusations by his critics that he is linked to "sedition" by emphasising that all his supporters should obey the law.

Rafsanjani also said the supporters should avoid insults and accusations against other candidates and should respect "Islamic manners".

Presidential Election Watch: Backing and Bashing Rafsanjani (continued)

The reformist organisation Mujahedin of Islamic Revolution has declared its support for Hashemi Rafsanjani’s presidential campaign, declaring he is “country’s only hope” for returning to “path of moderation and wisdom.”

The Islamic Iran Participation Front --- which, like the Mujahedin of Islamic Revolution, has been banned since 2010 --- has also issued a statement endorsing Rafsanjani.

In contrast, the candidate of the hard-line Endurance Front, former Minister of Health Kamran Bagheri Lankarani, has said that Rafsanjani will lose in the second round of voting.

Lankarani also held back from endorsing the emerging campaign of Saeed Jalili, the Secretary of the National Security Council, saying he had been told to "hold on" by the Front's Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi.

Nuclear Watch: Tehran Hopes for Positive Talks

Commenting on tomorrow’s nuclear talks with the IAEA, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi has stated, “Iran’s proposals during the second round of the talks in Almaty were very constructive, balanced, and proportionate; and we expect the other side to react positively and favorably.”

Araqchi added that any progress in the negotiations requires taking “mutual, balanced, simultaneous and congruent steps.”

Election Watch: Jalili “Committee of Elites”

Presidential candidate Saeed Jalili has created a Committee of Elites headed by Dr Ruh Ayzdkhvah to consider policies for his campaign.

Jalili also added – via Twitter – that the “qualities for an active international relation” are “Dignity, Wisdom and Goodwill.”

Election Watch: Velayati Announces His Slogan

Presidential candidate and Supreme Leader adviser Ali Akbar Velayati has announced his campaign slogan, according to Fars News --- the rather uninspiring "Complementary Government".

Asked to comment on incumbent president Ahmadinejad's chosen successor, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, Velayati said that it was the task of the Guardian Council to decide the suitability of candidates and that he would not comment on any of those who had registered.

Velayati vowed to stay until the end of the presidential race, and said he would build a moderate government that would consult with the public.

Nuclear Watch: 15 May Talks With IAEA

While attention turns to the forthcoming presidential election, talks between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency about Tehran’s nuclear programme will be held in Vienna on 15 May.

The talks, the tenth round since early 2012, will be headed by Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh and the IAEA’s Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts.

Election Watch: Rafsanjani Campaign

Conservative MP Ali Motahari has announced that he will serve as spokesman for Hashemi Rafsanjani’s presidential campaign.

Motahari added that he has been urging Rafsanjani to run since December to “return balance to the country.”


Election Watch: Rafsanjani Fights Back?

Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani is addressing head on comments that he is too old to run for president. In a likely attempt to rally support against this line, Rafsanjani tweeted a statement by leading cleric Mehdi Taeb, who said Rafsanjani "could not handle the country".

مهدی طائب (مخالف): هاشمی برای ریاست جمهوری مسن است و با توجه به وضعیت حاکم، توان اداره کشور را ندارد/ آنا

— اکبر هاشمی رفسنجانی (@hashemi1392) May 14, 2013

Jalili Plays IRGC Card

Presidential hopeful Saeed Jalili is aiming to rally support from the IRGC, the military and its allies, including war veterans. On Monday, Jalili declared he was a soldier as well as a diplomat, posting a photograph of himself as a soldier on his newly-created Twitter account. The nuclear negotiator has also promoted a report by Fars News --- close to the Revolutionary Guards --- about support among war veterans for Jalili, who lost his lower right leg during the Iran-Iraq War.

Rafsanjani Bashing Continues --- With Accusations Of Western Involvement

Hardline Mashregh News has published a lengthy article that collates what it says are "counter-revolutionary" news stories --- many from BBC Persian --- which it frames by suggesting that Rafsanjani is a seditionist who would pursue a policy of rapprochement with the US, and that the West is using Rafsanjani to promote its own interests in Iran.

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