Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei poured cold water on reformist hopes that this weekend’s ruling by Iran’s Guardian Council to disqualify thousands of prospective parliamentary candidates would be overturned. Reformists had complained that as few as 1 percent of their candidates will be allowed to run, a development moderate reformist President Hassan Rouhani had publicly come out against, stating that “I will use all my power to protect the rights of candidates.”
But Khamenei was unequivocal in backing the Guardian Council. As Reuters reports:
[I]n a meeting on Wednesday with officials involved in organizing the elections, Khamenei – who wields the final say on all high matters of state in Iran – made clear he did not agree with Rouhani on who should be able to take seats in parliament.
“I said that even those who oppose the Islamic Republic should take part in the election,” he said, underlining his wish for a high turnout to convey popular support for the system.
“(But) this does not mean that opponents of the Islamic Republic should be elected to parliament… Only those who believe in the Islamic Republic and its values should be allowed to enter parliament,” Khamenei said.[..]
Ahmad Jannati, the hardline conservative head of the Guardian Council, assured Khamenei at the same meeting that its consideration of candidates’ qualifications would be done “carefully and will not be affected by any pressure”.
The ace trumps the king, and Khamenei, rather than Rouhani, in whom, along with his Foreign Minister Zarif, the Administration has put so much trust, will get his way here. As Mark Dubowitz has put it in another context:
Never has the good-cop, bad-cop routine been more effectively used than by Khamenei & Rouhani/Zarif against Obama & Kerry.
— Mark Dubowitz (@mdubowitz) January 2, 2016
As we wrote yesterday, the situation may yet change: the arc of history may overtake this regime, and a Thermidorian reaction may yet break out. But at least so far, early results indicate that the deal strengthened the hardliners, rather than the moderates.