The withdrawal of hard-line candidate Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf from Iran’s presidential election is a sure sign that the decks are being cleared to make way for notorious executioner and former State Prosecutor Ebrahim Raisi. This was the view expressed today by Struan Stevenson, international lecturer on the Middle East and former Member of the European Parliament. Speaking in Edinburgh, Mr Stevenson said: “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has for some time now been critical of the incumbent president Hassan Rouhani, whom he considers too weak to deal with the new muscular challenge posed by the Trump administration. Khamenei has even criticised some of Rouhani’s election slogans where the president claimed the nuclear deal he brokered with the West had removed ‘the shadow of war’ from Iran.
“Khamenei is alarmed at accusations by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has accused Iran of being the world’s main sponsor of terror. He now wants Rouhani to be removed from office and replaced by the ultra hard-line executioner Raisi, a senior cleric who wears the black turban, signifying his direct descendancy from the Prophet Mohammad. Raisi was a key member of the ‘Death Commission’ who in 1988 ordered the execution of over 30,000 political prisoners. Clearly Raisi’s blood-encrusted legacy is more appealing to Khamenei than the record of the so-called ‘moderate’ Rouhani, under whose repressive leadership more than 3,000 people have been executed since he took office in 2013, making Iran the world’s number one death penalty nation per-capita.
“Clearly Khamenei has ordered Qalibaf to withdraw from the race, to avoid splitting the hard-line ultra conservative vote in the first round of elections on Friday 19th May. Khamenei’s manipulation of the Iranian elections exposes the fact that they are a sham and a scandal. Over one thousand people initially registered as potential candidates, only to be disqualified by the Supreme Leader Khamenei. Those disqualified from standing even included former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who although considered a fanatical tyrant by the West, was also clearly thought to be too soft to face the new robust approach from the US administration.
“There are increasing signs of widespread protests across Iran, with the emergence of courageous posters and banners proclaiming support for regime change and for the outlawed key democratic opposition movement the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI). Most of the 30,000 political prisoners hanged in 1988 by Ebrahim Raisi were supporters of the PMOI. Their ghosts may yet return to haunt him.”
Struan Stevenson, President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA), was a Member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014). He was President of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009- 2014) and Chair of Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (Caucus) from 2004-2014.