Iran elections 2021: Increased tensions as candidates register

This article is part of our coverage of the Iranian regime’s June 18 presidential elections

Iran, May 17, 2021—592 “candidates” have registered for the Iranian regime’s June 18 sham presidential elections. However, the majority of these “candidates” are merely pawns in the regime’s elections charade and will be disqualified by the Guardian Council, the 12-member body that vets all candidates. The members of the Guardian Council are either directly appointed by the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei or by the regime’s judiciary, whose chief is directly appointed by Khamenei.

Holding an election within the mullahs’ theocratic dictatorship is nothing but a masquerade. The regime seeks legitimacy by putting up a façade of democracy while it knows full well that the Iranian people’s real vote is regime change.

In previous articles, we explained how the regime struggles with nominating so-called candidates while maintaining a balance of power within its establishment.

On Saturday, May 15, the regime’s main election candidates signed up following five days of political turmoil. Current judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi and former Majlis (parliament) speaker Ali Larijani are seen as the main contenders for the race. Both have a long criminal record and have been part of the regime’s establishment in the last 40 years.

Ebrahim Raisi is best known for his direct role in the 1988 massacre, in which over 30,000 political prisoners were executed in a matter of weeks. Raisi was a key member of the notorious “Death Commissions,” a trio of regime officials who summoned political prisoners and sealed their fate in trials that lasted no more than a few minutes.

Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) Brig. Ali Larijani established censorship and repression on state radio and television from the beginning of the mullahs’ rule. In the 1980s, he served as the deputy joint chief of staff of the IRGC.

Other candidates are as follows:

  • Current First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri
  • Former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, known for his direct role in terror plots against regime opponents
  • Hossein Dehghan, senior IRGC commander and former Defense Minister
  • Mohsen Rezaee, Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council and former IRGC chief
  • Rostam Ghasemi, a senior IRGC commander and former Oil Minister
  • Saeed Jalili, former Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and chief nuclear negotiator between 2007 and 2013
  • Saeed Mohammad, former head of the IRGC Khatam Al-Anbia Garrison
  • Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, chairman of the so-called Tehran City Council and son of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
  • Mohammad Shariatmadari, current Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare
  • Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi, former Minister of Roads and Urban Development
  • Ezzatollah Zarghami, another senior IRGC commander and former head of the regime’s state TV and radio
  • Masoud Pezeshkian, former Health Minister
  • Mostafa Tajzadeh, former Interior Minister
  • Shamseddin Hosseini, current MP and former Finance Minister
  • Sadeq Khalilian, current MP and former Agriculture Minister under Ahmadinejad
  • Fereydoon Abbasi, former head of the regime’s Atomic Energy Organization
  • Alireza Zakani, head of the Majlis Research Center
  • Hassan Sobhani, former MP
  • Mohammad Abbasi, former Minister of Cooperatives under Ahmadinejad
  • Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, MP
  • Mostafa Kavakebian, former MP
  • Ali Motahari, former deputy Majlis speaker
  • Mohsen Mehralizadeh, former Vice President under Mohammad Khatami
  • Abdolnaser Hemmati, former head of the Central Bank of Iran,

All have played major roles in murder and crimes against humanity, warmongering and war crimes, repression, censorship, terrorism, and financial corruption for the past 40 years.

At the beginning of the Persian New Year (March 21), Khamenei publicly announced that any division and power struggle between various regime factions would have deadly consequences for the regime.

He banned the candidacies of current Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini, to avoid any polarization.

However, Larijani’s registration on the last day will cause more problems for Khamenei and portrays his desperate and weak position. This becomes all the more significant noting that he described the June 18 Presidential elections the most important one in the regime’s history.

Khamenei knows he cannot disqualify Larijani, who is one of his own advisers and was the Majlis speaker for 12 years. Khamenei fears that such a move might strike further conflict within the regime’s own ranks and weaken the regime’s grip on power, possibly leading to nationwide protests such as the 2009 post-election demonstrations.

The regime has also intensified its repressive measures upon Iran’s society leading to the elections.

On May 16, the state-run Risheh news website quoted regime police chief Hossein Ashtari warning about protests during the elections and emphasized on taking measures “against election opponents in the streets and social media, and to deal with these people based on the regime’s laws

On the other hand, state-run daily Arman acknowledged on May 15 that motivation to participate in the elections among the general public is very low and that “signs indicate that many, especially the young, are dissatisfied with living conditions, unemployment, social dilemmas, and widespread corruption. They are dissatisfied and unwilling to participate in the elections, and this is confirmed by scientific and impartial polls.”

Also, the Shafaqna news agency reported that election turnout is forecasted at around 40 percent.

The regime is facing three major obstacles leading to the election:

– power struggle between various factions

– low election turnout

– social protests

Therefore, there is serious doubt whether the regime can handle its internal crises prior to its 13th and maybe last “presidential elections.”

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