Ahmadinejad Backs No Candidate, But There’s a Candidate That Backs Him
After a period of silence following Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unofficial disqualification from 2017 presidential elections, his political aficionados have tried to cut another path to the presidential office. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad released a letter ten days ago, announcing, with an undertone of resentment, that he would not support any individual or political group for the upcoming poll. “This is my definite, unalterable stance” he said in his letter. The blackout however ended on February 18, when once Ahmadinejad’s right hand and vice Hamid-Reza Baghaei announced in a statement his plan to run for office in the upcoming presidential race. The news soon became viral, showing, as many media outlets noted, the Ahmadinejadites’ skillful handling of social media. Baghaei said he had chosen to run independently. However, signals coming from his camp contradicted such claims.
Ever since the statement, Ahmadinejad’s disciples have come out in strong support. Dolate Bahar (Government of Spring), a website apparently run by Ahmadinejad’s adherents, has published a series of articles and interviews in support and defense of Baghaei, over his notorious arrest in early June 2016. One of the articles in Dolate Bahar takes an intimidating tone, very reminiscent of the Ahmadinejad administration, against corrupt politicians and lying media, threatening that Baghaei could not wait to convey to public the dreadful secrets he kept to himself during the 225-day temporary detention. The article lists a number of lawsuits and legal disputes Baghaei won against those who accused him of financial corruption, after he was released on bail seven months later. A second article hails Baghaei as a libertarian, who would make the first Iran president after the Revolution who has served in solitary confinement and gone on hunger strike, provided that the Guardian Council endorse his qualification.
Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, leader of the so-called “deviation current” close to Ahmadinejad, barred in 2013 from the election by the Guardian Council alongside the late Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, held a press conference on Sunday to express his full-fledged support for Baghaei. Mashaei said their camp has interpreted the Supreme Leader’s veto as banning Ahmadinejad to run as a candidate and thus there is no limitation for him to back other candidates. “We are here to continue the path of Ahmadinejad and we do not recognize the path without him,” Dolate Bahar quoted him as saying. He said the camp needed a president who would admit that the nation voted for him on behalf of Ahmadinejad, be the embodiment of the ex-president, and remain in the scene until the end in spite of pressures. He went on to hail Baghaei as the living evidence of the Ahmadinejad administration’s purity. Referring to doubts about Baghaei’s ability to win ballots, he reiterated that Baghaei would be have no real contenders in the election. Saying he was ready to cry out that Baghaei is another Ahmadinejad, Mashaei dismissed speculations that Baghaei would be disqualified, implicitly warning authorities that a potential qualification would instigate a serious divide.
The basic presumption guiding analyses by the Ahmadinejad cohort is that Principlists were defeated in the last presidential and parliamentary elections because the Ahmadinejad factor was absent in both. The possibility of a bargain or merger between Ahmadinejad’s adherents and the Principlist seems to be void, as the sides’ positions since 2011 suggest. A Principlist umbrella apparatus aimed to broker consensus on the camp’s candidates avoided Ahmadinejad’s first immediate circle in its shortlist of hopefuls.
While Baghaei proclaims himself the main contender for sitting President Hassan Rouhani, Ahmadinejad is back to his habit of attracting public attention by writing open letters to American leaders. The answer to his previous letters to US presidents Bush and Obama still pending, Ahmadinejad published a 13-page open letter to new US President Donald Trump, giving him advice on a wide range of topics, including how to attend to the rights and demands of the underprivileged in America.
In order to relive their eight years in power, the Ahmadinejadites should pass a red-face test with the establishment, first. For now, they are just reliving their good old days’ publicity.