Iran: Grandson of first supreme leader drops presidential bid

Hassan Khomeini, one of the grandchildren of the Iranian Revolution’s founder Ruhollah Khomeini, announced on Tuesday that he would not be running for president, after months of speculation that he would attempt to run for the position as a reformist candidate, according to Iranian media.

In an interview with the reformist Jamaran news, Yasser Khomeini, Hassan’s brother, said that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei told Hassan in a meeting that he “did not consider it appropriate for Seyyed Hassan Khomeini to run in the presidential election in the current situation and asked him not to enter the arena.”

Hassan Khomeini reportedly agreed to Khamenei’s request and said that he will definitely not run.

In Iran, potential candidates in all elections are vetted by the Guardian Council, a 12-member body which reviews all candidates and legislation whose members are directly and indirectly selected by Khamenei. Iran’s presidential election is set to take place on June 18th.

This isn’t the first time that Hassan Khomeini has tried to run for office. In 2016, Khomeini was blocked by the Guardian Council from running for the Assembly of Experts, which has the power to appoint and dismiss the supreme leader of Iran, based on a technicality.

Yasser stressed that many reformists believed that Hassan could unite the country, as he received support from a large number of religious authorities, politicians and academics, with the slogan “all together” used in reference to him.

An analysis published by Jamaran referred to Khomeini as the most agreed-upon option for a candidate among reformists, writing that his decision not to run resulted in “the destruction of the reformist consensus.”

Other options for reformist voters may include current Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, current vice president, Eshaq Jahangiri, and former vice president Mohammad Reza Aref, according to Jamaran. Whichever reformist ends up running may face Ebrahim Raisi as the main hardliner candidate.

A number of analyses published by Iranian media claimed that reformists were trying to exploit Khomeini’s connection to his grandfather in order to further their political agenda.

An analysis published by the Fars News Agency claimed that reformists tried to use Khomeini in his 2016 attempt to join the Assembly of Experts and that the reformists are currently having difficulty finding candidates who can compete.

The IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News Agency published an analysis welcoming Hassan’s decision to not run. The analysis stated that the meeting between Hassan and Khamenei helped “warn” Hassan from falling into two pitfalls; the “probable trap of disqualification”

Tasnim questioned what the motivation of the reformists was to push Khomeini to run for the presidency, saying that it would be difficult for him to comply with the conditions set by the law for presidential candidacy as he does not have political experience.

The analysis additionally claimed that Khomeini would simply be a continuation of current President Hassan Rouhani, adding that “public opinion is well aware of which group is to blame for the difficult situation of these years.” The IRGC-affiliated news source warned that Khomeini’s nomination would have created “many opportunities” for hardliners to criticize him based on what they referred to as the “very flawed and inefficient” reformists.

Several former IRGC members are reportedly considering running for president in June, according to Radio Farda, including parliamentary speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and former IRGC commander Saeed Dehghan.






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