Handpicked candidates for the June 18 Presidential election in Iran have begun their campaigns and advertisements while most of them are less known for citizens. They have seemingly counted on people’s carelessness, making some promises that profoundly differ from their records.
Indeed, they are probably betting on a dead horse, particularly due to social media and progress of technology in recent years. In other words, not only do people not ignore their hollow claims, but also their rivals and state media eagerly highlight the distinction between their words and performances.
On the other hand, observers can measure society’s tendencies through candidates’ advertisements and promises. To image themselves as popular figures, they point to people’s real desires aside from the systematic propaganda and known misinformation campaign.
Furthermore, candidates, who had been qualified by the Guardian Council in accordance with their verbal and practical loyalty to the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Islamic Republic’s principles, count on society’s carelessness and indifference. In their sixth or seventh decade of life, they sometimes give odd promises as they have recently been reborn, and they try to hide their past performance.
Saeed Jalili and Filtering Social Media
To show an acceptable face, Saeed Jalili was active in social media more than others. He uses banned platforms like Twitter in defiance of the government’s directives. “There is no justification for filtering the Twitter,” he tweeted on May 29.
He may think that the people have forgotten his role in filtering the Twitter and other social media platforms. At the time, he was the Supreme National Security Council secretary and among influential decision-makers. Maybe he has forgotten his record, but the people never forget.
Mohsen Rezaei and FATF Impasse
Sixty-six-year-old Mohsen Rezaei, the former commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), raised surprising claims about the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). In 2020, as the Expediency Council secretary, Rezaei delayed the meeting about passing FATF bills at the council, leading the international body to reenter Iran on the blacklist and restrict the country’s banking system.
“The FATF case is still open in the council, and we will seriously pursue ambiguities inside the country, abroad, and at the council secretariate if I took office,” Rezaei said in a meeting with the private sector merchants.
In response, the merchants mentioned how long Rezaei kept the FATF case at the secretariate. “An FATF-kind impeachment of Mohsen Rezaei at merchants’ gathering,” titled Eghtesad News on June 1.
Furthermore, Iranian citizens remember how Rezaei imposed severe costs on citizens’ livelihood to continue funding terrorist proxies at the expense of national assets. Maybe he has forgotten his record, but the people never forget.
Alireza Zakani and Promoting the Negotiations
In the past six years, Alireza Zakani was among leading critics of negotiations with the West, which finally resulted in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
This lawmaker and head of the Parliament (Majlis) Research Center is also among forgetful officials. “If I became the president, the Americans would beg us. They will be forced to remove sanctions because the U.S. needs to rejoin the JCPOA,” Mehr News Agency quoted Zakani as saying on May 28.
Indeed, the JCPOA benefits never changed the people’s living conditions, and officials squandered billions of dollars on regional ambitions and ballistic-missile and nuclear-bomb-making projects. As a prominent official, Zakani has played a crucial role in promoting destructive policies and hiding the nuclear project’s disadvantages on the country’s economy. Maybe he has forgotten his record, but the people never forget.
Ebrahim Raisi and Double-Standard Claims
Khamenei’s desired candidate, Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi, is also among these forgetful officials. In recent years, he was known as an ultra-hardline figure. However, he now tries to portray himself as an anti-corruption and popular official, and an advocate for freedom of expression. Nonetheless, the Astan Quds Razavi conglomerate’s financial transactions, where he had reigned for the past five years, is still a secret.
Interaction with the Entire World
As a member of the Expediency Council, Raisi was an opponent of the FATF. Currently, he speaks about interaction with the world while he was a critic of monetary and banking transactions with the entire world. “Interaction with all countries of the world, particularly with neighbors, would be my administration’s foreign policy,” Raisi tweeted on May 16.
“The FATF four bills are in a bleak condition. On the one hand, the administration and Majlis have agreed with them. They believe the implementation of these bills are the only solution for Iran’s financial-political crisis in the international level. On the other hand, several members of the Expediency Council have frankly objected to the bills. They reckoned that the country’s dilemmas would not be removed by implementing such bills,” wrote Sazandegi daily on March 2, 2019.
Raisi and Cyberspace
Preventing the approval of FATF bills is not Raisi’s sole ‘achievement.’ Regarding the cyberspace, he had already emphasized on managing—censoring—the cyberspace. “The cyberspace should be managed, cleared, and maintained for youths,” said Raisi during his 2017 Presidential campaign.
As the highest judicial official, he supervised the filtering of social media, arresting social media activists, and fulfilling the censorship. However, in his campaign, he uses the banned Twitter platform to tout his foreign policy.
Raisi and Critics
Furthermore, Tehran Prosecutor Ali Alqasi-Mehr, who is appointed by Raisi, warned Presidential candidates about crossing the state’s redlines. “During their advertisements, candidates should not cross the state’s redlines and prioritize their personal and factional interests over the national interests,” Tasnim news agency quoted Alqasi-Mehr as saying on May 30.
However, Raisi claimed that “The officials should always expose themselves to criticism,” according to the official IRNA news agency on June 2. This is while Raisi has yet to resign his position as the Judiciary Chief but he did nothing to punish his appointee Alqasi-Mehr for restricting critics and to ensure freedom of expression.
Also, in his 28-minute advertising documentary video published on the same day, Raisi says, “Criticism should be among the administration’s principles. We need to be criticized… In judiciary, we witnessed hundreds of complaints against those [officials] who were claiming that they were harmed.”
Raisi and Freedom of Expression
“If someone wants to harm freedom due to security reasons, the constitution and relevant laws do not permit this issue. Meanwhile, freedom is the people’s desire,” IRNA quoted Raisi as saying on May 30. “I profoundly believe in freedom of thought, media, and expression because I believe that a society would grow when its people, particularly youths, are free.”
This is while that Raisi and his associates in the ‘Death Commissions’ led at least 30,000 political prisoners to the gallows in the summer of 1988. He speaks about freedom while as Tehran Deputy Prosecutor he had issued the death sentence for thousands of dissidents.
“Death commissions’ members only asked one question, ‘What is your accusation?’ They executed everyone who answered, ‘Supporting the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK),’” narrated a survivor of the 1988 extrajudicial executions, known as the 1988 Massacre.
Ms. Taavoni at #FreeIran2020 Rally:
"I heard #1988massacre's inspiring stories. In the summer of 1988, Prisoners were asked a single question: Do you support #MEK. Those who said yes were executed. Those who said no, survived. We know that 30000 said yes."https://t.co/bVKRtpR9kz
— Iran News Update (@IranNewsUpdate1) July 19, 2020
“I heard inspiring stories about 1988 massacre from survivors. In the summer of 1988, prisoners were asked a single question, ‘Do you support MEK?’ Those who said yes were executed. Those who said no, survived. We know that 30,000 said yes,” said Damouna Taavoni, whose father was executed in the 1988 massacre, at the Free Iran rally on June 19, 2020.
Likewise, Raisi had insisted on security in November 2020. “Security is our redline, and no insecurity is tolerable… Both the State Security Forces (SSF) and prosecutors should not allow rioters to jeopardize social security,” said Raisi on November 12, 2020. Notably, Khamenei had previously described protesters as rioters during the gas protests in November 2019. And on the anniversary of the 2019 nationwide protests, when the SSF and IRGC killed more than 1,500 protesters, Raisi tried to terrify the outraged people. Maybe he has forgotten his record, but the people never forget.
Amir-Hossein Qazizadeh-Hashemi and Ambiguous Foreign Policy
Deputy Majlis Speaker Amir-Hossein Qazizadeh-Hashemi is the youngest candidate. However, he is the most forgetful official despite his age. In this context, citizens heard his contradictory claims in different aspects in less than a month.
He calls his administration the ‘Peace administration’ while the Islamic Republic has yet to make a ‘peace deal’ with its western neighbor Iraq, 18 years after subverting the former government and taking office via its affiliates.
Furthermore, he had already slammed negotiations conducted by “reformists’” administration. “The prudence and hope [under President Hassan Rouhani] administration’s look at diplomacy severely harmed the country and our relationship with our old friends like China, Russia, and neighbors,” Tasnim quoted Qazizadeh-Hashemi as saying on April 23.
However, in his remarks on June 1, Qazizadeh-Hashemi described his foreign minister as a businessman declaring that he does not believe in diplomacy basically. “The peace administration’s foreign minister would be a businessman,” Mehr quoted him as saying on June 1. Maybe he has forgotten his record, but the people never forget.
Abdolnasser Hemmati and Economic Impasse
Former governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Abdolnasser Hemmati has focused on economic dilemmas in his campaign. “I would release the economy from policies’ jail,” Ghatreh quoted him as saying on June 5. “I would never tell people, ‘They do not let me work,’” he claimed.
In an interview with Tasnim on June 2, former acting chief of the Economic Ministry Hossein Samsami said, “Hemmati’s remarks are not a defense of his performance, but they are a sign of lack of commitment to national interests and his managerial weakness.”
“Hemmati says he had no role or voting rights in the administration in response to criticisms over his performance as the CBI governor,” Samsami said. “His performance would be measured by increasing the dollar rate, mind-blowing growth in liquidity, and the continuation of negative economic growth.”
“Hemmati claims that he is an economic expert; however, he has failed to manage the bank as a financial body. He was absolutely disabled and could not do his duties in this context. How would he want to act as a president and manage various topics like social, cultural, and political affairs truly?” Samsami added. Maybe he has forgotten his record, but the people never forget.
Mohsen Mehralizadeh and Transparency
Former Governor of Isfahan and Khorasan provinces and vice-president Mohsen Mehralizadeh is the last candidate. “Transparency of the economy like an aquarium, eliminating of the main roots of inflation and stopping the increasing rate of inflation within three to four months after shaping the cabinet,” Mehralizadeh said.
However, hardliners would expose around 23 corruption cases in Isfahan Provincial Governorate, Free Zone of Kish Island, Shahab Khodro automaking company, the Industry Expansion and Renovation Organization during the first televised debate. Therefore, it seems that Mehralizadeh has filled his aquarium with muddy water. Maybe he has forgotten his record, but the people never forget.
Who Started Making Publicity Gestures in Iran?
Following Islamic Republic founder Ruhollah Khomeini’s death in June 1989, the government sank into great confusion. Previously, Khomeini had ousted his deputy Hossein-Ali Montazeri due to his objection to the 1988 extrajudicial executions, and no official was prone to being his successor in accordance with the constitution and Sharia laws.
To find a solution, then-Majlis Speaker Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani immediately called on the Assembly of Experts to hold a meeting. He personally directed the meeting and nominated his close friend and then-President Ali Khamenei to take leadership.
At the time Khamenei severely rejected Hashemi Rafsanjani’s suggestion, shedding crocodile tears—which, of course, he described as bloody tears—for the Islamic society that was to be ruled by someone like him. However, he accepted the position.
"It should be cried bloody tears on the Islamic Society for the possibility of the leadership of someone like me… I'm not prone to having this position… My word does not have authority… At this session, seniors plainly stressed that I'm not an expert"—Khamenei, June 1989 pic.twitter.com/BMF4WUNOpM
— Ali Latifi (@alilatifi684) June 5, 2021
In the past three decades, he purged the country from his rivals. In 2013, the Khamenei-controlled Guardian Council even disqualified Hashemi Rafsanjani, who had nominated and defended Khamenei’s leadership, for running in the Presidential election.
In a nutshell, Khamenei severely protected his unelected leadership, running an absolute reign through bloodshed and plundering. In the past 30 years, the people of Iran were constantly crying bloody tears due to suppression, poverty, malnutrition, and putting their national resources on auction. Therefore, maybe he has forgotten his record, but the people never forget.