Iranian hard-liners appear to have used Iran’s election vetting procedures to stack the deck against the reformers in the upcoming parliamentary vote, dealing a blow to hopes that the nuclear deal would lead to the ascendancy of moderating factions in Tehran. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Almost two-thirds of the 12,000 candidates who applied to run in next month’s parliamentary elections were either disqualified by Iran’s Guardian Council or withdrew [. . .]
The political leanings of the disqualified candidates weren’t fully disclosed; political alignments are less rigidly defined than in many Western systems, and candidates can be endorsed by more than one party.
But so-called reformists—those favoring more political and economic freedom and improved relations with the outside world—say their camp was overwhelmingly targeted, with one saying barely 1% had been approved.
Nor is this not the only political arena in which the hard-liners seem poised to stack the deck. The Telegraph:
The late Ayatollah Khomeini’s grandson has left the race for a seat on Iran’s Assembly of Experts, apparently because his candidacy would have been disqualified, according to a hardline official.
Hassan Khomeini, 43, is a supporter of the reformist movement. As a prominent figure on this wing of Iranian politics, he would probably have been prevented from standing for the Assembly of Experts by the Guardian Council, a powerful body dominated by hardliners which vets all candidates [. . .]
“Kayhan”, a hardline daily serving as a mouthpiece of the Revolutionary Guard, suggested that Mr Khomeini lacked any revolutionary credentials to qualify him for a seat on the Assembly of Experts, which chooses Iran’s Supreme Leader.
If the hard-liners have effectively rigged the elections so they will control both the Parliament and the group who picks the new Supreme Leader, Iran has clearly responded to the nuclear deal by toughening its stance. Apologists for the deal will talk about the longer arc of history, and one can hope they are right. But it will be hard to avoid the conclusion that, while the Middle East was a huge mess when President Obama took office, he’s leaving it substantially worse off.