Abbas Djavadi – The uncertainty over whether or not conservative forces in Iran will throw their support behind incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s bid for a second presidential term is dissipating. On April 25, a coalition of 14 conservative and clerical parties and groups announced that they will indeed support Ahmadinejad’s candidacy in the June 12 presidential election.
Coalition secretary Habib Asgarowladi said the group has “conveyed [to Ahmadinejad] some concerns” on the part of the clergy and political personalities. “But the consensus is,” he added, “that, under current conditions, Mr. Ahmadinejad best represents the thoughts and beliefs of the Imam [the founder of the Islamic Republic, the late Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini] and the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei].”
Under the Islamic Republic’s Constitution, the Supreme Leader has the ultimate decision-making power in all major political and strategic issues. Ahmadinejad has not yet officially registered to run for a second presidential term. Former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Moussavi has announced he will run as the candidate of the “reformist” camp.
Over the past few months, some conservative political figures who supported Ahmadinejad four years ago have voiced concern and criticism of his policies, especially regarding his management of the economy and the government administration.
Ahmad Ghabel, a political analyst from Tehran, told Radio Farda that it appears that Ahmadinejad now has the final and full support of Ayatollah Khamenei as the sole candidate of the conservative “principalists.” “If the principalists could sense Ayatollah Khamenei’s doubts on Ahmadinejad’s candidacy or any leaning on his [Khamenei’s] side toward a different person,” Ghabel added, “somebody else from among the principalists would certainly enter the stage.”
All the same, some conservative groups and individual politicians who are staunch supporters of the Supreme Leader, such as the Association of Fighting Clergy and parliament speaker Ali Larijani, have not yet made any clear statement about their preferred candidate.
A professor at the University of Tehran who asked to remain anonymous agreed that Khamenei appears to have made up his mind. “Yes, Ahmadinejad seems to be the one,” he told RFE/RL on April 26. “I believe that in the inner circle of the Supreme Leader, they think [President] Obama has not taken yet any concrete conciliatory action, and with the threat of harsher sanctions against Iran, they believe the new U.S.
administration is basically following the Bush policies with nicer words.”
“A hard-line and aggressively anti-Iranian government has come to power in Israel,” the academic added. “And look at the situation in Pakistan and the worsening violence in Iraq. Khamenei doesn’t want to send a pigeon to confront hawks in the region in the next four years.”