“So magical is the political prowess attributed to Mashaie and Ahmadinejad’s populist appeal that Mashaie’s prospective candidacy causes much concern in the Khamenei camp,” said Shaul Bakhash, professor at George Mason University in the United States, weighing prospects for the election in mid-June.
The 2009 election is fresh in Khamenei’s memory. Everyone still recalls the regime’s violent suppression of popular protests, immortalized by the video of a young woman shot dead in the street. To avert another international embarrassment, the mullahs are keen to block Mashaei’s name from even appearing on the ballot, leaving hardliners loyal to Khamenei as the only possible victors of the election. Reuters reports that an alliance of loyalists is likely to unite behind one of three candidates, including Khamenei’s foreign policy adviser and close confidant, Ali Akbar Velayati. Mashaei and Velayati are names we’re likely to hear in the coming months. Via Meadia will be watching.