With only scant days before the Iran presidential election, the Iran lobby’s most ardent supporters weighed in on the race with typical obsequiousness. The best example was an editorial by Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council, in Foreign Affairs.
Predictably he offered up one of the more ridiculous spin lines in the history of disinformation on behalf of the Iranian regime. Parsi actually tried to push the idea that top mullah Ali Khamenei had no influence on the outcome of the election and that “reformist” former president Mohammad Khatami was the real power in this election.
Parsi bases that silly idea on the concept that Khamenei represents the “establishment” and as such his perceived candidates are constantly defeated at the polls by the Iranian people.
To say Parsi’s reasoning is flawed is like saying President Trump likes to tweet.
First of all is the idiotic idea that Khamenei has no influence on the election.
The Supreme Council has the final say in terms of vetting candidates to appear on the ballot for any election right down to a lowly provincial seat. Khamenei has the right to directly select half of the Council’s members. The others are appointed indirectly by him as well.
So right off the bat, Khamenei exercises a monopoly on who even goes on the ballot before the first vote is cast.
Secondly, the regime’s constitution itself ensures that only candidates meeting specific loyalty tests to the regime and its theocracy are allowed to run for office, thus ensuring adherence to preserving the mullah’s rule in Iran.
Control of who appears on the ballot allows Khamenei to control the narrative as to which candidates are perceived to be “moderate.” By stacking the ballot with four candidates who essentially have no chance at all, Khamenei can create the perception of a clear choice between a “moderate” Hassan Rouhani or a “hardline” Ebrahim Raisi.
Over 1,636 people registered to appear on the ballot for president. Only six were approved by Khamenei’s council.
Both of these men are dyed-in-the-wool insiders who are dedicated to serving the religious theocracy and Khamenei’s wishes, but Iran, with the help of the Iran lobby, creates a false perception of a real “choice” in the election.
“Another unknown candidate by the name of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated the presumed favorite, the late Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is considered one of the pillars of the revolutionary regime. But precisely because Rafsanjani was perceived as an embodiment of the establishment, the antiestablishment vote went to Ahmadinejad,” Parsi writes.
Of course, Parsi tries to posit that the 2009 race, which was widely considered rigged for Ahmadinejad causing widespread mass protests, was in fact actually a portrayal of the former “outsider” to be an “insider” now which caused the vote discrepancy.
Far from being honest with the reader, Parsi tries yet again to pull the wool over everyone by slicing Iran’s politicians into neat little camps opposed to each other and representing widely divergent viewpoints.
The reality is that there is very little difference between these candidates since are all loyal members of the regime.
Take Rouhani for instance. He was elected on the platform of being a moderate vowing reforms, but during his tenure, Iran has taken a huge step backward in human rights and now is involved in three wars sending thousands of young Iranians to fight and die, while the mullahs and elites skim huge personal fortunes through a massive network of corrupt shell companies.
These are not the facts that Parsi wants people to know about since it would ruin his carefully constructed fantasy.
Benny Avni writes in the New York Post how this election may be one where Khamenei decides the pretense of a moderate face for the regime is no longer necessary since Iran gained concessions from the nuclear deal already.
“Just as Americans and others are reorienting themselves for the age of President Trump, so are the mullahs. In their calculation, they now need to replace the friendly sounding voices, like those of Rouhani and his sidekick, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, with angrier men,” Avni writes.
“Raisi is an insider who has climbed the political ladder. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is said to favor him as successor, when the time comes,” he adds.
“But before Raisi follows Khamenei and his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini, at the top of the mullahs’ greasy poll, Raisi first needs a bit of public exposure. He could also use some governing experience, which he currently lacks. The position of president, which doesn’t have nearly as much power as Supreme Leader, is a perfect stepping stone.”
More evidence in the manipulation of the outcome was on display when Raisi’s path to the presidency became easier Monday, when a fellow hardliner, Tehran’s Mayor Mohammad-Baghar Ghalibaf, dropped out of the race.
Analysts believe Ghalibaf won the TV debates and is clearly more qualified, but, under pressure, he’s now calling on supporters to vote for Raisi.
What is clear from all this is that Parsi makes no mention of Raisi in his editorial which only demonstrates how close Raisi is to becoming elected and returning a public hardliner back into power to confront a U.S. administration no longer committed to a policy of appeasing Tehran.
We can be assured that if Raisi is elected, Parsi will no doubt ascribe his election as resulting from being a “outsider.”