October 29, 2018


Reformists begin signaling support for Larijani as president (Rohollah Faghihi, October 28, 2018, Al Monitor)

Iran's parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani is under fire by hard-liners over his role in lawmakers' recent approval of bills related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). In this vein, hard-liners are reminding the Iranian public of Larijani's cooperation with President Hassan Rouhani in selling the nuclear deal to Iranians, arguing that Larijani is being groomed for the 2021 presidential election.

Iran's parliament passed the Combating the Financing of Terrorism bill on Oct. 7, one of the four key bills that parliament must approve for Iran to be removed from the FATF blacklist. It took parliament months to pass this controversial bill due to the determination of hard-liners to stop it. Hard-liners believe the bill would cut Iran's ties to the "Axis of Resistance" -- an argument refuted by the Reformists, who say the FATF only recognizes groups as terroristic if they are described as such by the United Nations.

The Oct. 7 parliament session turned into a real competition between the Reformists and hard-liners over the FATF bills. It was reminiscent of the day the lawmakers approved the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action back in 2015, despite the uproar from hard-liners. [...]

The hard-liners' reaction to Larijani's attempts to persuade parliament to vote for the CFT bill was harsh. Vatan-e Emrooz, a leading hard-line newspaper, dedicated its front page to the CFT issue, condemning Larijani for his "willingness" to give up anything the West wants from Iran.

Meanwhile, on Twitter and other social networks, the reactions were worse. Hard-liners created the hashtag "Larijani's betrayal" and compared him to Al-Ash'ath ibn Qays, who played an influential role in forcing the first Shiite Imam Ali bin Abi Taleb to accept arbitration even though he was close to victory in the Battle of Siffin in 657. Moreover, a short clip of hard-line parliamentarian Javad Karimi Ghoddousi was released to the media, in which he stated that Larijani and Rouhani are examples of the "betrayers" that Ayatollah Khamenei has spoken about.

What shouldn't be neglected here is that Larijani, once known as a hard-liner, has dealt with crucial issues in a down-to-earth manner over the past decade. Since the final years of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency (2005-13), Larijani's distance from the hard-liners and the conservatives grew, reaching its peak with his cooperation with the Reformist-backed Rouhani on many key issues, including the 2015 nuclear deal.

In return, the Reformists have welcomed Larijani's stance and decisions, bringing up the likelihood of supporting him in the 2021 presidential election. This would not be Larijani's first presidential campaign. In 2005, the conservatives chose Larijani, who had headed the state broadcaster for a decade, as their candidate. But other conservative figures, including hard-liner Ahmadinejad and Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, rejected Larijani's nomination.

He was, of course, Khameini's chosen candidate in 2005, when he underestimated and got stuck with Ahmedinejad.

Posted by at October 29, 2018 7:20 PM