Iran’s coming Election is facing a new political controversy, not from the opposition or the “Reformists”, but from a party within the current Iranian Administration.
The Government’s critics believe that Esfandiar Rahim Mashaee who is the head of a party, which they label as “Deviant Current”. Mashaee who was the Chief of Staff in Ahmadinejad’s administration, left the office as Ahmadinejad suggested and became the head of the Non Aligned Movement Secretariat.
Even though Mashaee hasn’t actually declared his candidacy, political activists suggest that his shared programs with the President are paving the way for his candidacy. Senior government officials don’t deny the relationship between Mashaee’s programs and the Presidential Elections.
Ahmadinejad, who cannot run for presidency because he was president for two consecutive terms, began a speaking tour around Iran in the beginning of the new Iranian year and Mashaee was present at each step.
In visits to Semnan and Isfahan provinces, Ahmadinejad symbolically offered the Islamic Republic’s flag to Mashaee and then gave the opportunity for Mashaee to speak out, and this caused discontent among some members of Iran’s Majlis, political activists and even high ranking military officials.
But the main objection from the “Principalists” and patriots towards those around the President are targeted at Mashaee and his cronies in 10th administration.
He also made controversial statements about “the end of the Islamic Era”. “The Islamic Era is over; we began the revolution in 1979 to promote our ideas to other countries, but I should say that the Islamic Era is over; this doesn’t mean that clinging to Islamic ideas will vanish, but the Era is over. Like the Era of horse riding is over, but we still have horses and horse riding and the Era of cars will come to an end, but there will still be cars and driving.” He said.
Mashaee was accused in 2011 to be part of a big banking embezzlement. One of the main suspects confessed to his hidden meeting with Mashaee. Thus far neither Mashaee, nor the administration has commented on the matter.
Government critics believe that the former Chief of Staff has influences above the law; He has influenced the acceptance of many important government recruits and also resignations and he doesn’t allow involvement of elites who are mostly oppose to his ideas, in the administration. Even though Mashaee denied all the accusations.
The Current administration is also accused of squandering pubic funds on Election campaigns, spending money on cultural programs (for the purpose of promoting the administration) without reason. But they have denied all of the accusations without giving any defense.
The “Principalists” and other government critics initially thought of Mashaee as a rogue member of the administration. They began advising Ahmadinejad to put Mashaee aside, but after Ahmadinejad endless support of Mashaee, they implied that they are both on the same path and can’t be separated. Consistent praising of Mashaee by Ahmadinejad confirmed the thought. Ahmadinejad knew unfavorable judgments toward Mashaee will spark new criticisms and Critics saw this as arrogance.
Judging by these facts Mashaee awaits an unknown faith. Because the conventional wisdom is that Mashaee will be denied entrance to the Presidential race by the Guardian Council.
Recent talks by the head of the Guardian Council supports this belief. Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati was asked about how this Council handles those of the “deviant order” who want to enter the Presidential race.
“We act according to the law.” Jannati answered.
This is perhaps why there have been speculations about other possible candidates in case Mashaee gets rejected.
Gholam Hussein Elham, spokesperson of the current administration, Ali Nikzad Minister of Roads and Municipality, Ali Akbar Salehi the Foreign Minister and Rouhollah Kermani the former Vice President are among the list of possible candidates.
There are other possible candidates other than those mentioned, they are not socially recognized and we chose not to elaborate on them.
*Abdullah Almasi is the Editor in Chief of Iranian Jahannews.com news website.