Iran’s Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli caused a stir when he said that President Hassan Rouhani would serve a second term as president. When asked about the administration’s midterm scorecard and how many of his ministry’s plans have become operational, Fazli said, “This administration has not reached midterm yet, it’s only spent a quarter of its duration. Mr. Rouhani is to be president for eight years.”
Fazli is a traditional conservative politician politically aligned with parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. His entrance into the Rouhani administration as interior minister, with one of the main functions being to implement elections, was disappointing to some Reformists, although it helped deepen ties between Rouhani and Larijani and the bodies they lead.
The Reformist Etemaad published, “It’s unlikely that an individual like [Fazli], who entered the moderate administration under the conservative umbrella, does not know what his former political friends will interpret and infer from this one sentence. With the emphasis on such an issue, it shows that, at the least, officials from the administration do not want to keep their comments to themselves like they did before.”
The article continued, “These comments might be a response to those groups who as of now are drawing lines to end the political life of Hassan Rouhani’s administration. … A message to the extremists that apparently after the administration’s success in foreign policy and the nuclear agreement have a common agenda to not allow this administration to exceed four years.”
In criticism of Fazli’s comments, hard-line Raja News wrote, “The executive of the elections has stated the results of the 2017 elections.” The article continued, “By citing the interior minister’s latest comments, perhaps it is easier to understand the logic of the attacks on the Guardian Council from the officials in the administration.” On Aug. 20, Rouhani and the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Mohammad Ali Jaffari, clashed when the president suggested the Guardian Council’s role in the elections should be limited. The Guardian Council is the body that evaluates a candidate’s qualifications to run in the elections and is headed by hard-line Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati.
Raja News continued, “It is not unlikely that the attacks on the Guardian Council is [part] of a larger puzzle to result in the engineering of the elections.”
While the parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections are six months away, there have been major announcements. A conservative union between the Islamic Coalition Party, Society of Devotees of the Islamic Revolution and the Endurance Front was announced. It is too early to tell if the union between a traditional Islamist group, a group that counted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as its member and one led by hard-line Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi can remain together. Hojat al-Islam Morteza Agha-Tehrani, the secretary of the Endurance Front, said Aug. 31 that none of the three groups will present separate candidates.
The newly formed Reformist group, the Union of Islamic Iran Party, elected Ali Shakouri-Rad as its secretary in its first meeting Aug. 20. At a news conference Aug. 31, Shakouri-Rad said that his group will work with all Reformist groups and would not consider any other Reformist group a competitor. Some media accounts reported that Shakouri-Rad was arrested after his news conference; however, Iranian news agencies reported that he went to court to answer questions.
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