Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf in the Speaker's seat in 2022

Insider Says Iran Speaker Has Eyes on Presidency, Amid Infighting

Friday, 05/17/2024

While hardliner factions in Iran's new parliament are vying for the Speakership, an aide to former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims this competition is not the main event in Iran's political landscape.

Abbas Amirifar, who is better known as Ahmadinejad's exorcist, says incumbent Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf's main political ambition is defeating President Ebrahim Raisi in the 2025 Presidential election.

Ghalibaf withdrew from the presidential race twice, in 2017 and 2021, in favor of Raisi. In 2017, he stepped aside to give Raisi the upper hand among conservatives, although Raisi ultimately lost to Hassan Rouhani. In 2021, Ghalibaf did not enter the race, knowing, like everyone else in Iran, that Raisi, as Khamenei's chosen candidate, was going to win.

Meanwhile, as reported by the Rouydad24 website in Tehran, several conservative "gangs" have been making incriminating disclosures against each other over the past week. The group named Masaf (Battle), led by regime propagandist Ali Akbar Raefipour, has been more prominent in the corridors of power in Iran than any other group.

According to Rouydad24, until mid-2021, Masaf was known primarily as a cultural group that focused on discussions about the re-emergence of the Shiites' hidden Imam from occultation, as well as debates about Bahaism and Judaism. These discussions were not significant enough to be considered political. However, after the presidential election, Masaf has become known as a political propaganda group due to its serious confrontations with Majles Speaker Ghalibaf.

Masaf controversial politician Raefipour

Subsequently several social media influencers and conservative media outlets started a fierce campaign against Masaf, which is now fighting other conservative factions rather than fighting Israel and the West as it has been always claiming, the website wrote.

In the March 1parliamentary election, a coalition known as the Coalition Council of Revolutionary Forces (Persian acronym SHANA) led by Ghalibaf and his predecessor Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, and another group called the Popular Coalition of Revolutionary Forces (Persian acronym AMNA) led by Roads and Urban Planning Minister Mehrdad Bazrpash and ultraconservative figure Hamid Rasai were the main players. The latter coalition that previously supported Ahmadinejad, chose to Support the Raisi Administration in this election.

Masaf formed a third group named Iran Morning Front with a list that shared more than 70 percent of its candidates with AMNA. Masaf shared only one candidate with SHANA, so it was clearly an ally of the pro-Raisi coalition. While Masaf claims 50 of the candidates it introduced have won the election, other groups say that many of those 50 candidates were also on the other two groups' lists.

After the election, several disclosures were made about Masaf's financial record. Their rivals said that tens of billions of rials were deposited from unidentified sources into the accounts of Raefipour's inner circles including some of his family members. One of these happened to be Raefipour's three-years-old son!

Counteraccusations were made against Ghalibaf and his family. In the meantime, while Ghalibaf's supporters claim that Khamenei backs him as the next Speaker of the Majles, Rasai wrote in his newspaper that Iranians want a new Speaker. Apart from that, the Raisi administration has introduced a new vice president for parliamentary affairs, showing its interest in playing an active role in the election to determine the new Speaker.

In another development, shedding light on the fierce competition among various conservative groups who claim to have won the election, the incumbent MP from Marvadasht Jalil Rashidi Koochi says the disclosures and mudslinging that is going on among various conservative groups is a war of words for power.

However, he criticized all conservative groups for their ruthless attacks on each other. Koochi likened the latest election in Iran to a competition within a single group, as all candidates came from the same camp while their political rivals were barred from running. He also accused the conservatives of using illegitimate access to intelligence to attack their opponents.

More News