By Iran Probe Staff
Friday, 16 June 2017
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in a meeting on Monday with heads of the three government branches and other senior officials implicitly compared President Hassan Rouhani to a fate similar to that of Abolhassan Bani Sadr, the regime’s first president back in the early 1980s.
Khamenei warned of polarization in the country and having people divided, saying such an outcome would be dangerous. In 1980 the then president led the society to become polarized and this should not be repeated, he said.
The first president of this regime was impeached by the parliament and forced to flee the country.
The warning issued to Rouhani of the first presidency to not be repeated is unprecedented and such a remark has never been stated by Khamenei by any previous president under his watch.
Although he immediately said his method is to support the regime’s governments, this does show Khamenei’s disappointment in the election results. Especially when he recall the language Khamenei used in a meeting with conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, his preferred candidate, when he expressed his gratitude for taking part in the elections despite losing.
“Officials must distance themselves from foreign enemies and their domestic elements. In 2009 and in those incidents on the streets they clearly chanted against the revolution and the problems continued as we failed to properly distance ourselves from them,” he said.
Considering Khamenei’s failure in engineering the election results, and the issue of his successor is becoming a major dilemma, these remarks by Khamenei are a warning to Rouhani to not refer to such issues as the 1988 massacre, executions of the 1980s, social freedoms and … refrain from polarizing the society.
To this day Raisi was described as Khamenei’s main candidate to succeed him. However, considering his defeat in the elections and his past being linked to the 1988 massacre, if Khamenei dies the Revolutionary Guards and other elements of his camp will be difficult in introducing Raisi or another individuals to succeed Khamenei.
To this end, if news reports of Khamenei’s last few months because of his health problems are true, he must implement one of the two solutions before more time is lost: determining a successor and forcing Rouhani adhere to him, or have Rouhani set aside as president.