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Iran’s Parliament Speaker Turns Against Ahmadinejad

Ali Larijani has fired a shot in the struggle for the presidency.

by
Meir Javedanfar

Bio

October 21, 2008 - 12:20 am
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Also, Larijani is less confident when it comes to domestic politics. He does not have a lot of experience in this sphere, which is crucial for aspiring presidents. This is why it is very important to him that the Majlis under his term does not add to the country’s economic problems. This is one reason why he has decided to stand up to Ahmadinejad’s damaging economic policies.

The other reason why Larijani has decided to take a stance against Ahmadinejad — and probably a bigger one — is revenge. Larijani has been waiting a long time to settle scores after the president, with his belligerent behavior, forced him to resign as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator in October 2007. This came at a cost to Larijani: before this event, he was Iran’s top diplomat. In fact, he carried more weight and credibility than Iran’s foreign minister, Manuchehr Mottaki. In important foreign circles such as the European Union, there was more appreciation for Larijani than Ahmadinejad, who was seen as a loose cannon.

Therefore, Ahmadinejad has good reason to be concerned about the new internal challenge facing him.

Meanwhile, for Larijani and his presidential ambitions, making Ahmadinejad’s life difficult will help, but it will not automatically turn him into the most popular candidate for the presidency. In the last presidential elections, Larijani only received five percent of the vote. With candidates such as Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who is the mayor of Tehran, and Hassan Rowhani, who was Larijani’s predecessor as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and is expected to run for the presidency, Larijani will have his work cut out.

Iran’s deteriorating economic situation will be one area where Larijani will have to prove his mettle. How does he plan to get Iran out of the current mess, which is about to become worse with the current global crisis?

As Larijani knows and has publicly stated, Iran is not immune to the downturn. One area which is already showing an impact is oil prices. Reaching $70 per barrel, this is $30 lower than the $100 per barrel mark which Iran has set as the minimum “suitable” price for its economy. So how does Larijani plan to make up for the expected shortfall?

Also, during the last elections Larijani promised expansion and jobs through increased foreign investment. This is going to be a more difficult goal to achieve for the next, due to Iran’s isolation. Therefore this time Larijani will have to come up with broad-ranging economic reform programs, otherwise the Iranian voter may cast him aside.

If he realizes that he has no chance to win, that will not stop the Iraqi-born Ali Ardeshir Larijani from making life difficult for Ahmadinejad. Iranian politics is full of stories about how one politician turned against another and how the victim settled scores with him later on. Except the supreme leader, no Iranian politician is immune to this.

The president of Iran won the last elections by cheating, which was allowed by Ayatollah Khamenei. This, plus Ahmadinejad’s belligerent economic and foreign policy, has made him many enemies. The current presidential campaign is when many of them will want to get back at the president. This is why the upcoming race is expected to be one of the most entertaining ever.

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