Heading to the Iranian elections scheduled on Friday, May 19, and with the intensification of competition between the two poles of the Iranian regime, the hard-liner on the one hand and the reformer and moderate on the other, and after the withdrawal of Tehran’s mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf from the presidential election in favour of Ibrahim Raisi, the hard-liners’ candidate similarly to the First Vice President of Iran Eshaq Jahangiri who withdrew as well in favour of Hassan Rouhani, the Revolutionary Guard is on high alert for what is coming.

The Revolutionary Guard began its move of rigging the election since the distribution of banners in the streets of the Iranian cities with slogans calling for Raisi to stand for election, such as: ” We hope that Raisi will run for the elections ,” as it was later found that the Revolutionary Guard intelligence is the one which had done this to present Raisi as the best candidate for the presidency of Iran and therefore persuading him to run in the elections and getting rid of Rouhani and also to unite the hard-line current, which was shattered after the rule of Ahmadinejad and had divisions and splits and had no more power among the Iranian people.

The general sense of the intention by the Revolutionary Guard to rig elections was heightened when an Iranian website published a picture of Ibrahim Raisi in the Astan Qods Radavi Foundation with a number of Revolutionary Guard leaders kissing his hand. What is more is the close friendship between the commander of the Quds Force Qasem Soleimani of the Revolutionary Guard and Ibrahim Raisi, who also has close ties to Mojtaba Khamenei, the son of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

It was evident as well the support of the leaders of the so-called “Basij” (mobilization forces) to Ibrahim Raisi. These forces contribute significantly in controlling the Iranian interior. Basij is a paramilitary militia of the Revolutionary Guard which operates exclusively inside Iran, consisting of male and female civilian volunteers and engaged in activities such as internal security, providing services and manipulating the public opinion, and eventually, it will have a significant role and a high impact in the upcoming elections and in supporting Raisi.

According to analyses by expert of the Iranian issue, Ibrahim Raisi, the former attorney general and the head of Astan Quds Razavi, was the most likely candidate or even the only candidate to succeed Ali Khamenei, and in case of him losing the presidential election, he would also lose the chance to become a Supreme Leader as it would be clear for the Iranian people that he is not very popular and therefore he cannot hold a sensitive and important position in Iran such as the Supreme Leader one. Therefore, specialists believe that his candidacy for the presidency was a dilemma and a serious mistake by the hard-line current and the Revolutionary Guard, which now has no option but to make Raisi a president even if that needs to forge the elections.

One indication of the Revolutionary Guards’ insistence to make Raisi the president is the use of the skilled Russian intelligence to rig the elections, falsify the results or influence the way they proceed. This was revealed when a Russian delegation led by the Special Representative of the Russian President for Religious Minorities, Rustam Minikhanov, with Ibrahim Raisi in violation of Iran’s diplomatic protocols set forth in the Iranian Foreign Ministry. Nonetheless, the Revolutionary Guard, which effectively controls Iran, in order to reach its objectives, is prepared to violate any law or protocol. Russia as well has introduced Raisi on the Russian media as an important Iranian figure and a statesman with reputable international stature.

The Revolutionary Guard insists to succeed Raisi in the elections, despite its deep knowledge that he does not have a popular base and support similar to what Hassan Rouhani does, who, despite the fierce media war waged by the hard-liners’ channels against him and their focus on the situation in Iran and that it is still bad and that the nuclear deal has not improved living conditions in Iran, but he still has more popular support than Raisi and if the election goes without rigging, Rouhani’s winning a new presidential term is certain.

In his campaign in Zanjan, Rouhani mentioned the support of the Revolutionary Guard to Ibrahim Raisi, and attacked the way it was rallying for Raisi, without naming it. Rouhani was quoted by Iranian Labour News Agency saying: “Do not go to rural areas and lie to people, … Do not bring people into buses, do not give them lunch at military bases.”

This year’s presidential election took all those who follow the Iranian politics into the year of 2009 when the Revolutionary Guard rigged the elections and violently responded to the popular protests that took place at that time under the name of the “Green Revolution”. Now, it knows that if the election to be rigged, Hassan Rouhani’s followers might do the same and make another massive protest, and for that reason, the revolutionary Guard is on the alert and is making huge preparations to deter such protests which would not only be against election fraud but a popular uprising against injustice that is imposed on the various nationalities in Iran, which depriving people from choosing their presidential candidate will not be the last one.

Under the title (the enemies’ project in inciting Rouhani’s supporters, the Iranian people must be cautious,) Tasnim News Agency said that the member of the Islamic Coalition Party, Hamidreza Taraghi, has said in an interview with Tasnim that the enemies are planning to incite Rouhani’s supporters, because they have declared that if the result was contrary to what they want, they will reject it and resist the outcome.

Despite the nominal position of the Iranian president in the presence of the Supreme Leader, who is the actual ruler of the country, there are clear fears of the hard-liners and the Revolutionary Guard of the possible victory of the popular Hassan Rouhani, who was able to conclude the nuclear deal and promised greater openness of Iran to the world and to promote more freedoms, and that have become an obsession to the Supreme Leader who wants to keep Iran under his control and the control of the Revolutionary Guard, which in turn insists to keep Iran isolated and to maintain its hostile policies away from freedom and openness, which would negatively affect its interests of looting Iran’s wealth which will be used to export the ideology of the revolution and financing Sedition and wars in the region.

Al Mezmaah Studies & Research Centre

18 May 2017