On March 8, Iran's state television changed its program schedule at short notice and prevented the airing of a talk show about the Vienna nuclear negotiations.
According to the producer, the hardliner guests and the host opposed to the nuclear deal, JCPOA, were ready to start the show from an hour before the scheduled live broadcast. The hosts including an unnamed academic and a member of the parliament Yaser Jebraili, as well as four other likeminded hardliners, all Paydari members like the program's host were suddenly told that plans have changed, and they can go home.
This was taken by many political observers in Iran as a sign that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who controls the state television no longer tolerates opposition to a deal with the West, whatever the reason.
During the next two days, commentators in Tehran said that in the latest turn of events, the Raisi administration is frowning at ultraconservative Paydari party's maneuvers to influence ongoing events including the attempts to forge a deal with the West to save Iran's ailing economy. Paydari has a strong presence in the conservative-dominated parliament.
Reformist daily Aftab Yazd wrote on Thursday, March 10, that "some of the conservatives [in the Raisi administration] who until yesterday opposed a deal with the United States now want direct talks between Tehran and Washington. This comes while some other conservatives [such as Paydari members] insist on their opposition to any deal with the West."
President aisi surrounded by hardliners in parliament during his inauguration. August 5, 2021
Aftab Yazd mentioned the talk show as an example to make a point. The daily characterized the development as an indication of a deepening divide between Paydari and other conservatives loyal to Raisi and Khamenei. The daily pointed out that almost the same thing happened in 2015, when Iran signed the JCPOA, and opponents had to keep silent under pressure from the government.
On Thursday, President Ebrahim Raisi was quoted as having said that that the government still supports the idea of reaching to an agreement in Vienna as the country needs to make sure that sanctions on Iran are lifted.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Mohajeri, a leading conservative figure, and the former editor of hardliner daily Kayhan, said that an agreement between Iran and the United States will put an end to the anti-JCPOA activities of Paydari. He said the reason why its members have recently began criticizing Raisi and his chief negotiator Ali Bagheri-Kani is that they wish to restore their own shaky and errant identity as a political group.
Paydari was in fact former president Mahmud Ahmadinejad's support base a decade ago, but later many of its members distanced themselves from him as he fell out of favor with Khamenei.
Meanwhile, moderate website Rouydad24 opined in an analysis that it was clear from the beginning of Raisi's term that sooner or later his administration would fall out with other conservative groups. However, few thought that a divide could take shape within a matter of just six months.
The website pointed out that support for the Raisi administration hinges on various groups scrambling for their economic stakes in the system. As soon as the Raisi stops giving them their expected share, they begin to criticize the government.
Criticism of the administration is also fashionable in IRGC media outlets. On Thursday, IRGC mouthpiece Javan Newspaper pointed out in a sarcastic frontpage headline that "Prices refuse to obey orders;" a reference to the fact that Raisi never suggests a solution for economic problems and keeps issuing orders for prices to come down or for poverty to disappear.
As Mohajeri predicted, Paydari could end up as the victim of a new political situation marked by a deal with the United States. Paydari's existence depends on an atmosphere of infighting among various conservative groups, he said. “As soon as a faction’s interests are harmed, it is likely to stand up against other conservatives.”