PROFILE: Becoming the president of Iran

What is it with the presidents of the Islamic Republic who always fair so badly in the grizzly power struggle in this religious dictatorship and who pulls the strings in the Islamic Republic?

Ayatollah Khomeini: the enduring face of Iran
Potkin Azarmehr
On 2 March 2015 09:27

There were eight candidates who were allowed to stand for Iran's first ever presidential elections after the 1979 Islamic revolution. With the demise of Sadeq Tabatabaei on Saturday last week, only one of those eight remain alive today -- Abolhasan Bani-Sadr who actually became the first president of Iran and was then toppled by the hardline clergy and has lived in exile in France ever since.

In less than one year after the 1979 revolution that led to the overthrow of 2,500 years of monarchy in Iran and established the Islamic Republic, the first ever Iranian presiential elections were held on 25th January, 1980. More than 100 people registered themselves as candidates but only 8 were allowed to run.

Of the 8 that stood as candidates, Sadeq Qotbzadeh who sat next to Ayatollah Khomeini on his famous flight back from exile, was executed, charged with planning a coup. Former KGB officer, Vladimir Kuzichkin, who defected to the West in 1982, claimed in his memoirs that Ghotbzadeh's execution was fascilitated by KGB agents in Iran.

Sadeq Qotbzadeh was the first head of the state TV and Radio and also the foreign minister in the transitional government.

Another two of the eight candidates, Dariyoush Forouhar and Kazem Sami became dissidents and were murdered. Dariyoush Forouhar and his wife were murdered in their home in November, 1998 and Dr. Kazem Sami in his private medical clinic in 1988.

Dariyoush Forouhar was the Minister of Labour and Dr. Sami was the minister of health in the post-revolution transitional government.

Two more of the original eight candidates also fell out of favour and became dissidents but managed to flee Iran. They died in exile in America and in France.

Sadeq Tabatabaei, who was related to Ayatollah Khomeini and Imam Musa Sadr, was a favourite of Khomeini. He too had accompanied Khomeini on his flight back from Paris. Tabatabaei died in Germany in February, although he travelled to Iran regularly.

Thus, Abol-Hassan Bani-Sadr, the first ever elected Iranian president, now in exile in Paris is the only surviving member of those eight candidates.

Mohammad Ali Rajaei, the man who succeeded the toppled president Bani-Sadr, was killed by the rival Islamist opposition group, People's Mojahedin [aka MeK]. The MeK had helped bring Khomeini to power but then suffered bitterly at the hands of Khomeini, who viewed them as “Hypocrites”.

Ali Khamenei, now the Supreme Leader of Iran, replaced Rajaei, he too was the target of an assassination plot but survived, suffering a limp arm which torments him until today.

Hashemi Rafsanjani, once the most powerful man in Iran and the man who was behind the ascendancy of Ayatollah Ali Khameni to become the next Supreme Leader to replace Ayatollah Khomeini, is now grasping at straws to hold on to any remaining vestige of power. He has not been allowed to appear in Friday Prayer Sermons since July 2009.

Mohamad Khatami, the darling of the Western liberal and Leftist media, always referred to as the reformist president, is now expunged.

The judiciary recently ruled that neither his name nor his pictures should be published by the heavily censored Iranian media. Khatami's sister recently passed away and although her death was mentioned in the Iranian media there was no mention as to whose sister she was.

Even Ahamdinejad. Once the main man of the hardline clergy and the Supreme Leader has now fallen from grace. His first deputy, the man he bestowed with the “Medal of Honesty” is in jail, serving a five year sentence for financial embezzlement and dishonest conduct.

So what is it with the presidents of the Islamic Republic who always fair so badly in the grizzly power struggle in this religious dictatorship and who pulls the strings in the Islamic Republic?

Perhaps the answer is best given by Ayatollah Montazeri, who was once groomed as the next successor to Ayatollah Khomeini, but died under house arrest for his opposition to the relentless torture, rape and execution of Iranian political prisoners in 1988.

Disappointed with Khatami's first term of presidency and his failures to deliver reforms, one of Ayatollah Montazeri's followers proposed that Khatami should not stand as the candidate for the second term and instead should boycot the presidential elections.

Montazeri's follower asked for his view on this and this was the response by the man who was once groomed to be the Supreme Leader:

“Khatami enjoyed a huge popular support to become the president and implement his promised reforms in his first term in office, but now his position today has been reduced to a worthless flatterer. If he himself does not recognise that he should not stand as a candidate again for a second term, then no message from me to him will be of any use.

"Secondly, the reality is that with the constitution as it stands today, all the levers of power are vested in the hands of the Supreme Leader having no accountability to anybody while the responsibilities are loaded on to the shoulders of the presidency without having any power. Even if hypothetically the Lord of All Ages [The hidden Imam Mahdi who will one day return according to the Shia belief] becomes the president, he too will be unable to do anything.

"There is a clear contradiction in the constitution which has to be addressed”

Potkin Azarmehr left Iran for the UK after the “Cultural Revolution”. He is currently a contributor to several newspapers and Television stations on Iran related news and also writes and produces a number of TV programs

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