Iran’s Supreme Leader has again tried to bolster support for May’s Presidential election through criticism of the US.

Speaking to the Assembly of Experts on Thursday, Ayatollah Khamenei declared, “The Americans, who have close cooperation with the most evil and inhumane regimes in the region and caused such a huge scandal in their own recent election, are now targeting and criticizing Iranian nation’s election.”

The statement denounced the US State Department’s 2016 human rights report, which included a passage challenging the Iranian electoral process for not being free and fair. The report cited the Guardian Council’s vetting of all candidates — with the disqualification of the majority of them in the 2016 Parliamentary and Assembly elections — bans on communications, and continued detention of political prisoners, including the leaders of the opposition Green Movement.

Khamenei is concerned to prevent any repetition of the mass protests after the disputed 2009 Presidential election, “won” by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Two of Ahmadinejad’s challengers, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, have been under strict house arrest since February 2011.

The Supreme Leader again declared yesterday that the “enemy” is trying to undermine the Islamic Republic through “cultural invasion”. He asserted:

Iran’s growing influence as well as [other] nations’ support for the Islamic establishment are our firm backbone. This has enraged the Americans, prompting their policy makers to look for a way to counter Iran.

President Hassan Rouhani, a centrist who won a surprise victory in 2013 overcoming the Guardian Council’s disqualification of his mentor and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, is seeking re-election. Conservatives and hardliners have yet to agree a primary candidate to oppose him.

Rouhani also criticized the US human rights report this week.

See Iran Daily, March 8: Rouhani Hits Back at US Over Elections