Of the 529 people who registered to run in Iran’s presidential election on June 18, only seven have secured permission from the Guardian Council.
The Guardian Council is tasked with verifying candidates and deciding who will run in most elections in Iran. It consists of six Islamic jurists, nominated by the Supreme Chief, and six lawyers, nominated by the head of the judiciary and elected by parliament.
Among the candidates the Guardian Council has prevented from running in the next elections are former Iranian parliament spokesman Ali Larijani, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and current Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri.
Five of the seven candidates approved by the council are tough: Chief Justice Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi; former secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili; Secretary of the Expeditionary Council Mohsen Rezaei, former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC); and MPs Alireza Zakani and Amirhossein Qazizadeh-Hashemi.
The other two candidates who will run in the June 18 elections are Abdolnaser Hemmati, a technocrat and former governor of the Central Bank of Iran, and Mohsen Mehralizadeh, head of Iran’s national sports organization and former governor of Iran. Isfahan.
Among these seven candidates, Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi is the leading candidate. Many Iranian observers expect him not only to be elected as the next president of Iran, but also to become the next supreme leader of the country.
The Guardian Council has carefully studied the election to produce results that are acceptable to Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei for decades. However, the council’s decision to ban a high number of prominent and objectively qualified candidates to run in the next elections was still unprecedented.
The council has increased the level of control it exercises over the list of candidates because the Iranian establishment believes that the Islamic Republic is currently at a turning point and as a close ally of Khamenei, Mehdi Tayeb said recently, there it is the need to ‘purify the revolution’.
To understand what they mean by “purifying the revolution,” we need to look at Khamenei’s political ideology.
In the late 1990s, Khamenei explained what he believed to be the five essential stages of a successful Islamic Revolution. The first stage is the Islamic Revolution itself. The second stage is the creation of an Islamic regime, which must be followed by the creation of an Islamic government. The fourth stage is the creation of an Islamic society, which, he says, will pave the way for the creation of an Islamic civilization – one that could serve as a model and leader for all Muslim-majority countries in the world.
According to Khamenei, the first two ties in this chain were completed in Iran with the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the formation of the Islamic Republic. But Iran is yet to complete a third link: the creation of an “Islamic government.”
So, currently, Khamenei’s first political goal is to ensure that the country is led by a truly Islamic government that is loyal to him and his vision for the country.
To achieve this goal, he published a manifesto in 2019, and has since worked to renew the regime and prepare the optimal conditions for the creation of an “Islamic government”. He has held unelected but highly politically influential positions in the armed forces, the judiciary, religious organizations and the media with young and faithful gifts. With the help of the Guardian Council, he also filled the Iranian parliament with his young and zealous supporters in the 2020 parliamentary elections.
Next month’s presidential election, therefore, constitutes the final stage of Khamenei’s efforts to establish an ideal “Islamic government”.
Khamenei was elected Supreme Leader of Iran in 1989. Since then, he has worked with four administrations: the Rafsanjani administration (1989-1996), the Khatami administration (1997-2004), the Ahmadinejad administration (2005-2013). ) is the Rouhani administration (2013-2020).
Of these four governments, the one that was closest to Khamenei’s ideal of “Islamic government” was that of Ahmedinejad – at least during his first term in power. Ahmadinejad worked in harmony with the Supreme Leader between 2005 and 2009, but the two eventually fell during his second term as president due to political power struggles.
The Supreme Leader is now working to ensure the creation of a new administration that will pursue policies and strategies similar to Ahmedinejad, but remain loyal and submit to the Supreme Leader until the end.
And, in fact, the election campaign of the main candidate Raisi is run by veterans of the Ahmadinejad administration, such as Ali Nikzad, who served as Minister of Transport and Housing under Ahmedinejad between 2009-2011. and Reza Taghipour, who was its Minister of Communications between 2009-2012.
As was the case during Ahmadinejad’s presidency, the political nominees of a future Raisi administration would also come from the more conservative sections of Iranian society, and specifically from the IRGC and the Basij Oppressed Organization, a working paramilitary group. by the IRGC.
The IRGC and the Basij are not only home to the most ardent supporters of the Islamic Revolution and its ideals, but also serve as the largest and most influential support base for the Supreme Leader.
If Khamenei succeeds in securing the formation of a new administration that will fill the most politically important positions in the country with tough members of the IRGC and Basij, the ever-widening gap between the Iranian government and the controlled Iranian “deep state” by the Supreme Leader it will finally end. Such an administration, in Khamenei’s eyes, would represent a truly “Islamic government” and would be more successful in implementing policies that would advance the goals of the revolution.
According to Khamenei, once established, an Islamic government will work to complete the Islamization of Iranian society – the fourth step in the Supreme Chief’s long-term plan.
Since the 1979 revolution, Iranian society has experienced two waves of Islamization – the first in 1980 triggered by the closure of the university and the second, in 2005, sparked by the election of Ahmedinejad as president. If an “Islamic government” loyal to the Supreme Leader is formed as planned on June 18, Iran will undoubtedly see a third wave of Islamization.
As seen during the first two waves, the third wave of Islamization in Iran will probably have three primary manifestations: Further incorporation of Islamic culture and values into daily and political life, a stronger fight against Western influences on to Iranian society, and an increase in the influence and control of the Supreme Leader over all social and political groups in the country.
To achieve this, the new administration will have to use force, since today large segments of the Iranian population do not have the ideals and ambitions of the ruling regime. The new administration will repress those in Iran who seek to resist the restrictions imposed by the regime for their lives and increase the pressure on young people and women – the two main groups who increasingly challenge the regime’s authority.
In terms of foreign policy, a new “Islamic government” will work to achieve all the long-term goals of the Islamic Republic, such as increasing Iran’s influence over the region and exporting the Islamic revolution to other countries. supporting militant groups.
If the new government ends up including several members of the IRGC and the Basij as planned, cooperation between the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the IRGC will be strengthened as well, allowing the country to pursue its agenda. of foreign policy more efficiently.
Anti-Americanism will also be a definite feature of any future “Islamic government” supported by Khamenei.
Anti-Americanism is at the heart of the Iranian regime and the identity of the Supreme Leader. Therefore, any new government backed by the Supreme Leader could continue to antagonize the US and its allies as they approached Russia and China. Forming better relations with African and South American countries would also be a priority for the new administration for political and economic reasons.
Ayatollah Khamenei, 82, wants his regime and ideals to survive. He wants to live not only the spirit of the 1979 revolution, but also Iran to finally become an Islamic power and a leader of the Muslim world. Only time will tell if the Supreme Leader will be able to oversee the formation of an ideal Islamic government that is crucial to the success of his long-term political agenda. But for now, it seems Khamenei is well placed to move on to the next stage of his revolutionary plan.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.