Image: Hassan Rouhani at his campaign in Tehran on Saturday

Throughout the weekend, one of the prominent stories in the Presidential campaign was the possibility of a coalition between the moderate Hassan Rouhani and the reformist Mohammad Reza Aref. That coalition, with one man withdrawing in favour of the other for Friday’s first-round vote, would significantly improve the prospect of Rouhani or Aref reaching the final ballot on 21 June.

On Sunday, both Aref’s campaign manager and leading reformist Ali Shakouri Rad indicated that a decision might be made today. However, we still awaited the catalyst for the coalition — an endorsement by former Presidents Mohammad Khatami and Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Then, on Sunday night, a new development pointing to the fear of some within the regime of a coalition and specifically of Rouhani’s campaign, which surged on Saturday with a large rally in Tehran.

Both Fars, close to the Revolutionary Guards, and Mehr reported that the Guardian Council will meet on Monday to re-consider Rouhani’s candidacy. Having prevented Rouhani’s mentor Rafsanjani from entering the contest, the Council could now act to stem the new, unexpected threat.

The basis for the disqualification, both outlets indicated, would be support for Rouhani from “leaders of sedition and lawlessness”.

Will the Guardian Council, which allowed Rouhani’s candidacy as a consolation for its disqualification of Rafsanjani, be so bold — or rash — with a further ban? If so, what does this say about the “legitimacy” that the regime wants to claim for this election after the disputed Presidential outcome in 2009?

If Rouhani is barred, what will be the outcome? Will his threat have been neutered, or will voters flock to Aref in a de facto coalition, elevating the reformist as a challenger? Will there be a reaction on the streets, given the relatively muted response to Rafsanjani’s disqualification?

Crowds Chant “Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein!” At Aref Rally In Tehran’s Hejab Street

Video showing crowds chanting “Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein” — referring to detained opposition politician Mir Hossein Mousavi — at a rally for reformist candidate Mohammad Reza Aref on Tehran’s Hejab Street on Monday.

Aref’s campaign team tweeted this image of three women supporters at today’s Tehran rally.

Team Iran — Heck Yeah! (Jalili Edition.)

Presidential candidate and Supreme National Security Council secretary Saeed Jalili appears as a Thunderbird in a new animated video created by his supporters on Monday.


The video — entitled “Resistance Until Progress” — is set in a future, space-age Iran and depicts the launch of an Iranian space rocket, similar in design to NASA’s Space Shuttle.

The phallic-looking rocket towers above a multi-lane highway, as an advanced military attack helicopter, tiny in comparison, circles it.

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Eventually, the rocket fires, plumes of cloud in the colors of the Iranian gushing from its top before it explodes into space.

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The rocket flies over a mosque, before the movie cuts to Jalili, as a Thunderbird, watching the rocket head into space like a phoenix, presumably moved by Iranian and Islamic pride.

Rouhani’s Second Documentary To Air Monday Night

Moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani’s second documentary is scheduled to be broadcast on State television Monday evening.

Rouhani’s first biopic is reviewed by an EA correspondent in Iran here.


Chants for Detained Opposition Leader Mousavi During Aref Rally

At Sunday’s rally in a mosque in Yazd for reformist candidate Mohammad Reza Aref, the crowd chants, “Ya Hossein! Mir Hossein!” for Mir Hossein Mousavi, the 2009 Presidential candidate who has been under strict house arrest since February 2011:

Presidential Election: Rafsanjani Daughter Slams Disqualification

Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, has declared that some members of the Guardian Council had a “mission” to disqualify her father from this year’s Presidential contest. She said that “there was no motivation to vote in this situation”.

Presidential Election: Haddad Adel Withdraws

Gholam Ali Haddad Adel — leading MP, relative of Ayatollah Khamenei, and member of the Supreme Leader’s 2+1 Committee — has withdrawn from the Presidential race.

The other members of the 2+1 Committee — Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf and the Supreme Leader’s senior advisor Ali Akbar Velayati — remain in the contest, as does Saeed Jalili, the Secretary of the National Security Council.

Haddad Adel did not endorse another candidate, but said, “I advise the dear people to take a correct decision so that either a Principlist wins in the first round, or if the election runs to a second round, the competition be between two Principlists.”

Principlist candidate and Supreme National Security Council secretary Saeed Jalili noted Haddad-Adel’s withdrawal in a tweet, pointing out that the MP had resigned to help the principlists:


Presidential Election: Guardian Council Denies Meeting To Discuss Rouhani

A spokesman for the Guardian Council on Monday denied reports that the body was set to meet today to discuss the candidacy of moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani, BBC Persian reports.

Reports — citing unnamed sources — have been circulating in the Iranian media over the weekend, alleging that the Guardian Council had decided to convene a meeting to discuss whether to allow Rouhani to continue to run for President in the light of his connections to “seditionists”.

Hits And Misses From Western Press On Presidential Election

EA’s Scott Lucas notes: A mixed set of summaries from Western outlets on the Presidential election on Monday…

Reuters offers a useful if unsurprising overview, “Iran Election Hopefuls Have No Quick Fix for Economy”.

More interesting are divergent perceptions of the nuclear issue. Parallelling EA’s analysis of the problems for the Supreme Leader, Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor summarised the clashes in the final Presidential debate:

“Conservative presidential candidates clashed over inept and “fruitless” diplomacy one week before Iranians go to the polls.”

Peterson noted the fierce denunciations traded between the Supreme Leader’s senior advisor, Ali Akbar Velayati, and lead nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili:

“The two men with perhaps the most influence to carry out those directives – both of them presidential candidates – publicly revealed wide disagreement.”

All of this seems to have gone unnoticed by The New York Times, however. It proclaims, “In Iran Race, All 8 Candidates Toe Hard Line on Nuclear Might”.

Dr. Rezaei’s Classroom

Independent candidate Mohsen Rezaei has produced this graphic to illustrate good and bad things in Iran.

Depicted as a chalkboard, the right hand side shows a list of “good things” — including a strong economy, employment, freedom and welfare. The list on the left shows “bad things” — like unemployment, poverty, housing problems and inflation.


Aref To Visit Khorramabad, Shiraz and Tehran Today

Amid rumors that moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani’s candidacy may be reexamined by the Guardian Council, Reformist candidate Mohammad-Reza Aref is set to visit Kerman, Khorramabad and Shiraz today, winding up in Tehran for a rally at 8 p.m. local time, his campaign team has tweeted.