Parliament speaker opens new conservative era in Iranian politics

Al-Monitor | Shervin Ghaffari: Parliament Speaker Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf starts his new job at a time when Iran faces great challenges, with the conservatives set to dominate Iranian politics in the near future.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed June 10 his Cabinet and spoke about the country’s recent struggles, saying that “the resilience of the Iranian people” and their struggle against the coronavirus pandemic and US sanctions will be “recorded in the history of the country.” While Iran’s recent struggles have yet to be recorded, the new parliament, which began its first session May 27, comes into office at a time of compounding crises.

Amid the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, an economic recession and US sanctions, the power of Iran’s conservative establishment has dramatically increased, setting the stage for a new era of hard-line politics. In a sharp turn to the right, Iran’s legislative body is now dominated by multiple conservatives factions, virtually all of whom campaigned against Rouhani’s administration and his platform of external engagement and internal moderation. Conservative politicians and critics have assailed Rouhani for the Iranian nuclear deal and the US “maximum pressure” campaign.

Leading this new parliament is former Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the first Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) general to be speaker of the Iranian parliament. Ghalibaf joined the IRGC in 1980 during the Iran-Iraq War, where he quickly moved up the ranks. Later in his career, he developed sway within the IRGC’s growing political and economic network that peaked after he became head of the massive Iranian engineering conglomerate Khatam al-Anbia, which is seen by many as an extension of the IRGC’s economic influence in the country.

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