Who will be Iran’s next president?

September 29, The Iran Project – A few days ago, the Supreme Leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei ended some speculations among Principlists that the former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is eyeing to participate in Iran’s 2017 presidential elections, saying it is not in his and the country’s interests to run for presidency.

While nearly eight months left to the elections, Iran Supreme Leader’s positioning approved the country’s electoral atmosphere. According to the news released by the cyberspace and the news agencies, Ahmadinejad, who went to Ayatollah Khamenei to consult with him, has been advised to stop his provincial trips and not to run for 2017 presidential elections since his participation would polarize the country.

Who are the candidates in Iran’s 2017 presidential elections?

While there are eight months left to the 2017 presidential elections in Iran, it is not clear who are the candidates. Of course, some candidates, like President Hasan Rouhani, are identified as he, like the other Iranian presidents, will participate in the election for the second term. Basically, presidential term in Iran is considered 8 years within which there is a midterm elections.

Before the Supreme Leader advised Ahmadinejad not to seek a third term in the May 2017 presidential elections, he was considered the main rival of President Rouhani. But now, he does not seem to be interested in running for the presidential post since the Principlist camp who support him will listen more to the Supreme Leader’s order.

On the Other hand, Ahmadinejad faces the challenge of getting past the Guardian Council’s vetting of presidential candidates because when the Leader says Ahmadinejad’s participation is not in favor of the country, the Guardian Council is not likely to approve his qualification, although the leader’s opinion is not a verdict in this case.

After all, it seems that Mr. Ahmadinejad finally concluded that not to run for the third term, since he declared on Tuesday (Sep. 27) hat he has decided not to take part in the next year presidential race in the country.

In a letter sent to the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ahmadinejad noted his meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei on August 30, and said after he discussed his recent countrywide trips and public meetings, “you advised me that my participation in this round of elections won’t be expedient and I stated my compliance” with this recommendation.

Other Rouhani’s potential rivals 

Ezatollah Zarghami, former head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) who held the position for nearly a decade with the decree of Ayatollah Khamenei, trustworthy to Iran’s Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani and once an IRGC Brig. General is another potential rival in the upcoming presidential race but he has recently denied his candidacy.

Hesamodin Ashna, cultural and press advisor to President Hassan Rouhani who is also a close aide to him, recommended Zarghami in a tweet to wait for another four years. Some say that Ashna warned Zarghami not to participate in the elections and others believe that the tweet reflected his concern.

And, Mohsen Rezaei, who was trying to portray himself as a politician, not a military commander, is back in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corpse (IRGC) and in a statement released by Expediency Council’s office, he declared his withdrawal from 2017 contest.

Quashing rumors of having plans to go into politics, Commander of Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Qassem Soleimani underscored that he will always remain a simple soldier serving Iran and the Islamic Revolution.

In a statement on September 15, General Soleimani described media speculations about his plans to run in the upcoming presidential election as “divisive” reports by the enemies with the purpose of fomenting discord within the Iranian nation.

Surprise at last moment?

Iran election has always been a surprise. Ahmadinejad’s presence in the 2009 presidential elections and his winning was one of the surprises that his fans remember as “the miracle of the third millennium”. The defeat of Mohammad Nategh-Nouri to Mohammad Khatami was not expected and Rouhani’s victory over the other rivals in the first term was also a surprise.

The 2017 presidential election may also have another surprise but what is clear is that the results of the upcoming elections will somehow be affected by the US 2016 presidential elections.