Posts Tagged ‘Assembly of Experts’

Iran Upset With Europe — Iranian ballistic missiles in Syria, Iraq, Yemen could be a problem

September 4, 2018

Europe is not helping preserve an accord on Iran’s nuclear program by asking for additional talks on issues like missiles, powerful anti-Western cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said on Tuesday, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

Image result for Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, photos

FILE PHOTO: Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati

Jannati is the head of the Assembly of Experts, an influential body that can select and dismiss the supreme leader, the highest authority in Iran.

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French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian

Last week, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Tehran should be ready to negotiate on its future nuclear plans, its ballistic missile arsenal and its role in wars in Syria and Yemen. Iran’s foreign ministry rejected the idea.

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Houthi Military Media Unit shows the launch by Houthi forces of a ballistic missile aimed at Saudi Arabia March 25, 2018. Houthi Military Media Unit-Handout via Reuters

President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in May and is re-imposing sanctions on Tehran. The other parties to the accord – China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany- are trying to find ways to save the agreement.

“Europe has announced that they won’t leave the deal,” Jannati said, according to IRNA. “In practice, by bringing up a discussion of missiles and other issues they are not following an appropriate path.”

Last month, the European Union decided to provide 18 million euros ($21 million) in aid to Iran to offset the impact of U.S. sanctions, part of efforts to salvage the deal.

Separately, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested that the United States is trying pressure Iran through sanctions, though he did not explicitly name the United States.

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 Iran’s Cruise Missile Test Near Strait of Hormuz is ‘Annoying’ Signal for US

“The enemy says ‘I want an Iran that’s in my control, that’s in my fist,’” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast on state TV. “This is impossible…They want to pull us back 40 years, to surrender.”

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh, Editing by William Maclean




All Eyes On Iran For Friday’s Election — Religious Hard-liner Mounts Challenge to Rouhani — Iran’s Presidential Race

May 17, 2017

Voters choose Friday between candidates with conflicting visions—President Hassan Rouhani, who has made an opening to the West, and a political newcomer wary of where such a path leads

Posters of Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric, being passed out in April in Tehran. Credit Ebrahim Noroozi/Associated Press

Updated May 17, 2017 12:04 p.m. ET

TEHRAN—President Hassan Rouhani faces a hard-line opponent in a national vote Friday that is shaping up as one of the most contentious and consequential elections since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979.

The contest puts before Iranian voters two candidates with conflicting visions for the country—Mr. Rouhani, who has made an opening to the West, and a political newcomer wary of where such a path leads.

Ebrahim Raisi, a 56-year-old cleric with close ties to Iran’s supreme leader, has emerged as a tougher-than-expected challenger, taking advantage of economic troubles and railing during campaign rallies against inefficient government and its failure to address corruption.

Mr. Raisi, supported by Iran’s hard-line establishment, has used his campaign to criticize the signature accomplishment of Mr. Rouhani’s first term: the 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers, including the U.S. The agreement lifted most economic sanctions and expanded oil exports.

The Obama administration pushed the nuclear deal, in part, because it believed the lifting of sanctions would allow Iran to eventually moderate its domestic and foreign policies, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The Trump administration has shifted U.S. rhetoric and imposed new sanctions on Iran that target entities involved in Tehran’s ballistic missile program and alleged human-rights abuses. It sees the election as a gauge of Tehran’s future policies, but its antipathy toward Iran is unlikely to change regardless of who wins, a senior Trump administration official said.

Lifting Sanctions on Iran

President Hassan Rouhani, seeking a second term in elections Friday, faces a hard-line opponent who has criticized Mr. Rouhani’s signature achievement: the 2015 nuclear deal that lifted most economic sanctions and boosted oil exports. Mr. Rouhani’s popularity has ebbed among voters who say they haven’t seen the economic benefits.

Mr. Rouhani has during rallies referenced, though never directly, Mr. Raisi’s alleged connections with Iran’s deadly 1988 purges as a longtime member of the judiciary. He told a packed stadium in western Iran this month that voters wouldn’t support candidates who “executed and jailed” fellow citizens.

Mr. Raisi hasn’t addressed Mr. Rouhani’s comments in interviews or speeches. A judiciary spokesman, responding to Mr. Rouhani’s mention of executions, said Tuesday that Iran’s judiciary has helped fight against terrorism.

“My record is that I was a soldier for this country,” Mr. Raisi said Tuesday at a rally in Tehran. “My past was to push away the sinister shadow of terrorists from the country.”

Until recently, the election appeared an easy win for Mr. Rouhani, who is seeking a second four-year term. But his popularity has ebbed since last year as Iranians failed to see economic benefits from the nuclear deal, polls show.

Iran President Hassan Rouhani waves to supporters at a campaign rally this month in Tehran.
Iran President Hassan Rouhani waves to supporters at a campaign rally this month in Tehran. PHOTO: EBRAHIM NOROOZI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

“The situation hasn’t been good in these four years,” said Ali Arjomandi, a 26-year-old medical student who attended a recent rally for Mr. Raisi.

Mr. Rouhani’s support among likely voters was around 61%, according to the most recent polls by Washington-based International Perspectives for Public Opinion; Mr. Raisi was at 27% after Tehran Mayor Mohammad Ghalibaf dropped from the race and gave his support to Mr. Raisi.

Iran’s hard-line factions have coalesced around Mr. Raisi, sending him to the campaign trail after a career spent behind the scenes.

Mr. Raisi has promised to create a million jobs a year, address a nearly 13% unemployment rate and revive financially troubled housing projects for the poor. His campaign message mirrors former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s in speeches that mix religion, politics and economics.

“In my childhood, I experienced the taste of poverty,” he said in a TV interview last month. “Being an orphan, I worked as child and a teenager, and I know how the deprived feel because I experienced it firsthand.”

Religious pride

A victory by Mr. Raisi would bolster his chances to succeed Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who served two terms as president in the 1980s, analysts said. The supreme leader decides most matters of state, while the president manages policy and serves as Iran’s face to the world.

Few doubt Mr. Khamenei, 77 years old, is behind Mr. Raisi’s rise. In recent speeches, Mr. Khamenei has been critical of Mr. Rouhani’s economic management, a view echoed by Iran’s hard-line media outlets.

Mr. Khamenei appointed Mr. Raisi last year to oversee the Astan Quds Razavi, a charity worth billions of dollars that is central to state-controlled manufacturing and real-estate enterprises under Mr. Khamenei’s control.

Some analysts aren’t convinced Mr. Khamenei is wedded to Mr. Raisi as a successor. “It may be that he’s a contender and Khamenei wants to take him out for a test ride,” said Cliff Kupchan, the chairman of political-risk consultancy Eurasia Group.

Iranian conservative presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi speaks at a campaign this month in Tehran. The election is Friday.
Iranian conservative presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi speaks at a campaign this month in Tehran. The election is Friday. PHOTO: ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

At rallies, Mr. Raisi voices a message similar to Mr. Khamenei’s, one that opposes dissent and appeals to emotions triggered by religious pride and Iran’s perceived loss of prestige. It is a view associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an economic and military force that owns monopolistic companies and leads Iran’s forces in Syria and Iraq.

Iran is the main Shiite power in the region—where Shiites are outnumbered by Sunni Muslim countries, led by Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf neighbors, most of which are close U.S. allies. These Sunni nations have increasingly battled against what they view as Iranian meddling—and what Iran sees as its role helping suppressed Shiites.

Iran’s strategy, which has put it in conflict with the West, is carried out by the power Mr. Raisi is closest to—Mr. Khamenei and his inner circle, including the Revolutionary Guard.

Mr. Rouhani, 68 years old, is a regime loyalist, but he represents a more technocratic approach to governing that appeals to younger, wealthier and better-educated Iranians. Many in Iran were born after the revolution. Some want to move past the fervor that drove out the shah, triggered the 444-day hostage crisis at the U.S. embassy and frayed ties between the countries.

If Mr. Raisi wins, Iran’s foreign policy would likely break from the Rouhani-led engagement that yielded Iran’s agreement to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. A victory by Mr. Raisi also could change Iran’s view on foreign investment. Western companies, including Boeing Co. , have made billions of dollars in sales to Iran since the nuclear agreement.

“Raisi appears to be much more in line with traditional hard-line Iranian thinking about the economy, namely, that integration with the West is costly, and comes with strings attached,” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior Iran analyst at the Washington-based Foundation For Defense of Democracies.

Mr. Raisi has promised to abide by the deal. But he might not be willing or able to persuade the Revolutionary Guard—which sees foreign competition as a threat to its economic power—give up any market share, Mr. Taleblu said.

From left to right, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, German Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and US Secretary of State John Kerry at al news conference in Vienna following agreement on Iran’s nuclear deal on July 14, 2015.
From left to right, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, German Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and US Secretary of State John Kerry at al news conference in Vienna following agreement on Iran’s nuclear deal on July 14, 2015. PHOTO: IMAGO/ZUMA PRESS

Mr. Rouhani has been blunt in his critique of the Revolutionary Guard. During the final presidential debate, he criticized the test-firing of a ballistic missile that carried the slogan, “Israel should be wiped off the Earth,” soon after the nuclear deal took effect last year. He said at a rally that monopolies weren’t good for Iran, a veiled reference to the Revolutionary Guard.

“We are at the edge of a great historical decision,” Mr. Rouhani told supporters at a rally Saturday in Tehran. “Our nation this week will announce whether we return to 2012 or head to 2021, if it continues on the path of peacefulness or if it will choose tension.”

Differences between the two candidates stood out during Iran’s three live TV debates. The first exposed Mr. Raisi’s inexperience; he went on the attack in the last two. Mr. Rouhani mostly appeared polished, although criticism from hard-line candidates in the first debate seemed to put him off-balance.

Some voters welcome Mr. Raisi’s promise to increase cash handouts despite strains on the government’s budget. “We want him to save us from hunger and misery,” said Ahmad, age 43, a father of five who works in a bakery. “What will my sons will do when they grow up? I want them to be able to earn money and get married and have children.”

Up the ranks

Mr. Raisi rose through clerical and judicial institutions. In the 1970s, he became a devotee of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s first supreme leader, while studying in Qom, home to Shiite Islam’s most influential seminaries.

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Mr. Raisi became a member of the ruling clique, and in 1980 he began a decadeslong judicial career with his appointment as the assistant public prosecutor in Karaj, west of Tehran.

At age 23, Mr. Raisi reinforced his establishment ties by marrying the daughter of cleric Ahmad Alamolhoda, a close ally of Mr. Khamenei, the current supreme leader. The couple have two daughters. In the 1980s, Mr. Raisi became the deputy to the prosecutor in Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary court, a special judicial system known for handling politically sensitive cases.

In July of 1988, after eight destructive years of war with Iraq, Mr. Khomeini ordered that political prisoners be questioned by three-member panels made up of a cleric, prosecutor and intelligence official. Any prisoner who professed allegiance to the banned opposition groups was executed, according to international human-rights groups.

Thousands of people were believed killed, these groups say, although the precise number is unknown. Tehran has long denied any such executions.

Mr. Raisi sometimes stood in as a prosecutor on a three-member panel with a religious judge and an intelligence ministry official, according to a report by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, a human-rights group based in Washington, D.C. Mr. Raisi hasn’t responded to the report.

Iranian presidential hopeful Ebrahim Raisi speaks at a mosque in southern Tehran in April.
Iranian presidential hopeful Ebrahim Raisi speaks at a mosque in southern Tehran in April. PHOTO: AHID SALEMI)/SSOCIATED PRESS

After Mr. Khamenei became Iran’s supreme leader in 1989, Mr. Raisi’s career began to advance. He became head of the judiciary’s General Inspection Organization in 1994 and, a decade later, the first deputy head of the judiciary.

Mr. Raisi’s best chance at beating Mr. Rouhani may come if hard-line organizers can get out the rural vote, which accounts for about 20% of the population and tends to vote conservative, said Mr. Kupchan, of the Eurasia Group.

If Mr. Rouhani wins, as most expect, he may be weakened by his public criticism of the Republican Guard and indirect references to the 1988 executions.

“He’s the guy who attacked some of the core values of the Islamic Republic by airing dirty laundry,” said Ray Takeyh, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. “That creates problems for him in the next four years.”

Mr. Khamenei said as the election approached that anyone who disrupts state security “should know that they will definitely be slapped in the face,” a message that unrest won’t be tolerated.

In 2009, Iranians demonstrated against the re-election of Mr. Ahmadinejad, and authorities arrested thousands of people who were led by supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. Mr. Mousavi remains under house arrest.

Mr. Raisi, who was deputy head of the judiciary, promised at the time that those arrested would be dealt with “in a way that will teach them a lesson,” according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

Write to Asa Fitch at


Ebrahim Raisi: hardline challenger in Iran — Vowing to triple cash hand-outs to the poor — Calls for a much tougher line “in the face of the enemy”

May 17, 2017


© AFP | Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi looks on during a campaign rally in the capital Tehran on April 29, 2017

TEHRAN (AFP) – Ebrahim Raisi, the leading rival to President Hassan Rouhani in Friday’s presidential election, is a hardline judge with close ties to the supreme leader who spent years in powerful backroom positions.

Born into a religious family in the holy city of Mashhad on August 23, 1960, Raisi wears the black turban of a “seyed” whose genealogy is said to lead back to Islam’s Prophet Mohammed.

In public, he has an austere charisma, and is surrounded by an entourage with ties to the Islamic regime’s most hardline elements.

He has focused his campaign on the poor, brandishing his credentials as the head of the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, which is also a powerful and hugely wealthy charitable foundation.

“I represent the workers, the farmers, the impoverished women,” he says, vowing to triple cash hand-outs.

It is a message that has fallen on fertile ground at a time when unemployment is at least 12.5 percent and almost everyone is feeling the stagnation of the economy.

He does not oppose the nuclear deal signed with world powers in 2015, which lifted sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran’s atomic programme.

But he says the current government’s negotiating efforts were “weak” and called for a much tougher line “in the face of the enemy“.

There is little chance Raisi will ease social restrictions or release opposition leaders held under house arrest since the 2009 protest movement, known to conservatives as “the sedition”.

“Those who sympathise with the heads of sedition must know that the great nation of Iran will never forgive this great injustice,” he said in 2014.

– A revolutionary life –

Raisi is entrenched in the conservative establishment, having served as attorney general, supervisor of state broadcaster IRIB and prosecutor in the Special Court for Clerics.

His father-in-law leads Friday prayers in Mashhad and both have seats on the Assembly of Experts that will choose the next supreme leader — a position for which Raisi himself is often rumoured to be in the running.

Raisi’s father died when he was five, and he entered the seminary at an early age, excelling in his studies and moving to the seat of clerical learning in Qom in 1975.

After the 1979 revolution, he was selected for special training by the clerical establishment and studied under Ali Khamenei, who would later become supreme leader.

In 1985, in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war, he became deputy prosecutor at the Revolutionary Court of Tehran that would oversee the execution of thousands of political prisoners.

After serving in a series of increasingly powerful judicial posts, Raisi was appointed in March 2016 by Khamenei to head the Imam Reza shrine.

Known as Astan Qods Razavi, it runs Iran’s holiest shrine as well as a huge business conglomerate with interests in everything from IT and banking to construction and agriculture.

Iran: Economic reforms to attract the investment Iran desperately needs, Many obstacles remain in the way

May 4, 2016
A nation whose young population wants to open up to the world remains stuck
An Iranian woman casts her ballot for the parliamentary runoff elections in a polling station at the city of Qods about 12 miles (20 kilometers) west of the capital Tehran, Iran.©AP

An Iranian woman casts her ballot


By David Gardner
The Financial Times (FT)

The run-off in Iran’s parliamentary elections seems to have given Hassan Rouhani, the centrist president, a workable parliamentary majority if his followers combine with reformists and independent conservatives against Islamist hardliners. The outcome also appears to endorse last year’s deal between Iran and world powers, which traded economic sanctions relief for restraints on Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Hassan Rouhani

The president should now be better placed to enact some of the economic reforms to attract the investment Iran desperately needs. Ultimate power, however, still rests with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, and theocratic institutions that answer to him, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the judiciary.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Yet Mr Rouhani’s coalition did exceptionally well in February’s elections to the Assembly of Experts, the body that will select the next supreme leader. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president who came first in that contest and a key Rouhani ally, has been floating the idea that next time round the assembly might choose a leadership council rather than a single leader — and dilute theocratic power.

Whatever the hopes for the future, right now an Iran whose young population wants to open up to the world, and taste the opportunities denied them by the regime’s isolation, is still stuck. The opening is constricted by “secondary” sanctions still in place on the IRGC and “state-sponsored terrorism”. The IRGC is not just a praetorian guard at home and a strike force abroad. It is a business empire with tentacles everywhere; western banks — some of them already fined billions by the US for sanctions-busting — are chary of entering Iran lest they come into contact with it.

The main Iraqi militias came after the 2003 US-led invasion. There is plenty of blame to spread around

Not just Mr Rouhani, therefore, but above all Ayatollah Khamenei, who threw his decisive weight behind the nuclear deal and now feels short-changed, has choices to confront. At the centre of this is the regional activity of the IRGC.

The IRGC and its expeditionary branch, the al-Quds Force, along with Iran-allied Shia militia in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, have cut a swath through Arab land and forged an axis of power from Baghdad to Beirut. For the most part, Tehran has taken advantage of opportunities opened by others. Hizbollah, for example, the powerful Lebanese Shia paramilitary force, emerged after Israel’s 1982 invasion of civil war Lebanon. The main Iraqi militias came after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein’s minority dictatorship and propelled the local Shia majority to power. There is plenty of blame to spread around.

The present regional mayhem is marked by proxy wars pitting Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Wahhabi ideology against Shia Iran. The emergence of sulphurous jihadist groups such as Isis, imbued with Wahhabist ideas, means that minorities such as the Arab Shia, Syria’s Alawites or many Lebanese Christians look to Iran for protection against their savagery — just as Iran’s perceived aggression pushes many Sunni towards extremists such as Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate.

But the Islamic Republic of (Shia and Persian) Iran is plainly seen as an aggressive interloper by Sunni Arab powers such as Saudi Arabia. Unless that changes it looks as if the economic potential opened by the nuclear deal cannot be fully realised.

Nor does the sorry spectacle offered by the region burnish Iran’s reputation. Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime, backed in the air by Russia and on the ground by Iran, is pulverising what is left of the northern city of Aleppo, including its hospitals. The Shia Islamist-led government of Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad is crumbling in the face of popular protests at the venality of the political class, and a challenge for power by Iran-backed militia. Is any of this really in Iran’s interest?

“If Aleppo falls, how are they going to govern it, and who’s going to pay for its reconstruction? Russia and Iran will end up holding a very hot potato,” says a former Arab prime minister. And Syria will still have a Sunni majority.

Mr. Zarif

Mohammad Javad Zarif, the most mellifluously moderate voice of Iran abroad, its foreign minister and chief negotiator of the nuclear accord, keeps repeating that Iran and Saudi Arabia need to define their interests and accommodate each other without exclusions. The Saudis in effect respond that Iran has no valid interest in any Arab country — and were incensed by US President Barack Obama’s call in a recent interview for them to “share the neighbourhood”.

Saudi Arabia’s intransigence and anti-Shia belligerence are huge obstacles to regional detente, but so too is Iran’s aggressive pursuit of geopolitical regional goals that cut across its full re-entry into the international community.

Moderates, Reformists Win Key Iran Election Races

February 29, 2016

Results indicate repudiation to hard-line opponents of landmark nuclear deal


Hassan Rouhani

Rouhani may get the support he needs to pass social and political reforms


Updated Feb. 29, 2016 9:32 a.m. ET


TEHRAN—Moderates and reformists close to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have won key seats in Iran’s parliament and Assembly of Experts, dealing a setback to hard-lines opposed the Iranian leaders’ policy of more openness to the West.

In the first parliamentary election since Mr. Rouhani’s government reached a nuclear deal in July with the U.S. and other world powers, moderates and reformists took all 30 of Tehran’s seats in the 290-seat parliament, or Majlis, state television reported Monday.

In contests for the powerful Assembly of Experts, which will pick a successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the same moderate-reformist bloc also won all but one of the capital’s 16 seats to the 88-member body.

Moderate candidates have won 15 of the 16 seats in an election for Iran’s Assembly of Experts, the 88-member clerical body that will elect a successor to the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Photo: Getty Images.

The outcome from races outside Tehran and other Iranian cities was still being assessed, but there were preliminary indications that the bloc performed well there, too. If so, the Mr. Rouhani would have a parliamentary majority—a huge blow to opponents of the nuclear accord.

The ballot was seen as a referendum on President Rouhani, who staked his government’s success on achieving the nuclear accord and ending Iran’s isolation abroad. Under the agreement, Tehran agreed to limits on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from international economic sanctions.

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli told state television that about 34 million of Iran’s 55 million eligible voters—or 62%—cast ballots on Friday, down slightly from 63.9% in parliamentary elections in 2012.

Iran has reached a historic agreement with major world powers over its nuclear program. What is Iran giving up, and how does it benefit in the long run? And what are supporters and critics of the deal saying? WSJ’s Niki Blasina explains.

An Iranian man holds a copy of the daily Shargh newspaper with a headline reading “Decisive victory for the reformist” in Tehran, 28 Feb.
An Iranian man holds a copy of the daily Shargh newspaper with a headline reading “Decisive victory for the reformist” in Tehran, 28 Feb. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

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Iran Election Campaign Draws to a Close — Voting Friday

February 24, 2016


© AFP / by Katherine Levy Spencer, Stéphane Koguc, Fred. Garet

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran’s former president Mohammad Khatami and his predecessor have urged voters to back reformists and moderates in Friday elections, saying a big turnout is needed to stop hardline conservatives. VIDEOGRAPHIC

by Katherine Levy Spencer, Stéphane Koguc, Fred. Garet
Mohammad Ali Najib | 23 Feb 2016 17:50 GMT
Al Jazeera

Wednesday marks the last day of campaigning for Iran’s parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections, with candidates trying to reach as many supporters as possible, whether in person through posters or social media.

In the capital Tehran, candidates rallied supporters while trying appeal to undecided young voters who could sway the outcome of the polls. About 60 percent of the population in Iran are 30 years old or younger.

In universities across the city, parliament candidates like Ali Motahari and Mohammad Reza Aref – who are known reformists – are attracting huge crowds.

As candidates were busy crisscrossing the city, campaign workers handed leaflets outside subway stations or plastered posters bearing photos and party logos of different sizes and colours.

Some posters include links to their address on Telegram, a popular messaging app in the country. Other candidates for the Assembly of Experts hang oversized banners on lamp posts on Tehran’s busiest streets.

The parliament has 290 seats. Its role is to pass legislation, including approving the budget and international treaties. The Assembly of Experts is a body of 88 religion experts, tasked with picking the country’s Supreme Leader when a vacancy arises.

Official campaigning only started last Thursday. Candidates only have seven full days to make their case. That means those who have name recognition and big party backing have an advantage.

Across the country there are 6229 candidates running for seats in parliament, while about 161, mostly elderly clerics, are vying for 88 Assembly of Experts seats nationwide.