Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and former parliament speaker Ali Larijani. Undated

Former Iran Speaker Barred From Presidential Race Challenges Decision

Saturday, 12/18/2021

Six months after Iran's hardliner Guardian Council barred a former parliament speaker from running for president it has finally tried to defend its decision.

The Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog vetting candidates and supervised by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, offered 7 explanations about Ali Larijani’s disqualification, some simply political in nature and others less than substantiated or not representing any legal prohibition.

One reason given by the Council is a vague reference to Larijani past remarks regarding the disputed 2009 election, when millions protested the decision to announce Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner of the presidential race. Conservatives suppressed the protests and called the demonstrators provocateurs. But there is no record of Larijani defending the protesters.

The Council also cited accusations including his son's involvement in dubious contracts with the parliament, some of his relatives' residence in the United Kingdom and the United States which the council described as "belligerent states," frequent visits to foreign countries by Larijani's family members, following a luxurious lifestyle, and sharing responsibility for the undesirable situation of the country.

The letters were exchanged by Larijani and the Guardian Council in September, but they were released by the press on Saturday.

The Council also disqualified other strong candidates in what the many saw was a blatant attempt to ensure a win for Ebrahim Raisi, the current president.

Earlier, Larijani had repeatedly called on the Council to let the public know why he was barred from running, but the council replied that it would not be in Larijani's interest.

Following the disqualification, his brother Sadeq Larijani who was a member of the Guardian Council, protested the decision and charged that it was based on wrong information given to the council by IRGC's intelligence organization.

Later Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called on the Guardian Council "to make up for its unfair treatment" without actually mentioning Ali Larijani.

Meanwhile, Ali Larijani wrote a strongly worded reply to the Council's Secretary, hardline cleric and politician Ahmad Jannati explaining that one of his children lives in the United States where he or she is studying, and this is different from frequent visits.

He also asked the Council whether the family members of "qualified" candidates have not been visiting foreign countries frequently.

Larijani also said he has asked the Judiciary Chief to launch an investigation into his son's involvement in construction contracts with the parliament. He further explained that he has always been living in his grandfather's luxurious home in north Tehran since 1977.

Responding to the charges of "sharing responsibility for the undesirable situation of the country" Larijani asked if the Guardian Council believed Khamenei was also responsible for that when he was Iran's President in the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, he did not mention Khamenei's responsibility as the Islamic Republic's leader during the past 30 years.

Larijani concluded: "Just say that you wanted to get rid of me," and questioned the Council's competency to make such judgements.

Iranian analysts Mehdi Mahdavi Azad and Jamshid Barzegar told Iranian International Television on Saturday that both Jannati and Larijani know the real reason why he was disqualified. The true reason for the whole episode is that Ali Khamenei decided to purge some of the individuals in his inner circle. He got rid of Larijani in the same way he got rid of former Presidents Akbar Rafsanjani and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Mahdavi Azad.

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