Thursday, June 14, 2012

Astroturf for a President Jalili

At Persian Letters, Golnaz Esfandiari reports on calls for Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Said Jalili to run for president:
"In recent weeks, hard-line bloggers have launched an online campaign for Jalili to stand as a presidential candidate in the 2013 vote. The effort comes amid an increase in stories in state media portraying Jalili as a hardworking, pious man who leads a modest lifestyle...
"A group of Revolutionary Guards commanders and Khamenei representatives in the IRGC reportedly urged Jalili to prepare for a run in the 2013 presidential elections, according to an October 2011 report on the news site 'Roozonline,' which quoted an 'informed official.'
"Jalili is considered a true devotee of Khamenei, and is known for doing his utmost to fulfill the Iranian leader's wishes. According to Rafizadeh, these are two characteristics that make him a good candidate for president in Khamenei's eyes. The supreme leader has a record of clipping the wings of people who oppose him even slightly."
Is calling for a Jalili candidacy to succeed Ahmadinejad a purely Khamene'i move?  When Jalili got the nuclear negotiation spot in 2007, he waas described as an Ahmadinejad loyalist replacing Khamene'i's political ally and current parliament speaker Ali Larijani.  Ahmadinejad's losing battle for influence with Khamene'i during 2011 has probably given him the aura of a lame duck, however, and reminded the current president's supporters that the Leader is still the country's most powerful figure.  Jalili may be someone acceptable to Khamene'i who can still protect the economic interests of the IRGC and others who have prospered under the current administration.



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