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Ghalibaf retools image to lead Iran's new conservatives

After several failed presidential bids, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf appears to be maneuvering to become the leader of a younger generation of Iranian hard-liners by trumpeting what he calls the 'new conservatism.'

Having tried his luck in several Iranian presidential elections, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf appears to have finally abandoned his ambition of securing that position. Instead, he seems to be concentrating on a new goal — leading the new generation of hard-liners. Toward this end, on Aug. 12 Ghalibaf’s entourage released a manifesto laying out their vision of a "new conservatism," with a focus on "returning to the basics of the revolution" and "believing in the people."

Ghalibaf's journey to this point has been circuitous. He served as a military commander during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88), and in 1997 he became chief commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) air force. From 1997 to 2005, he was among the critics of Reformist President Mohammad Khatami. During that time, in 2000, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appointed him national police chief. While in office, he acted to modernize law enforcement, which to some extent increased his popularity.

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