Ahmadinejad's Ex-Mentor Threatens Iran's Disqualified Candidates
Morteza Agha-Tehrani, an ultraconservative member of the Iranian parliament and once a mentor and advisor to then president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has threatened candidates disqualified for Iran's June 18 presidential election "to correct themselves before the regime's toleration wears out and rounds you up."
Nearly all the 592 people who registered for the election but were not cleared to stand have accepted the decision of the Guardian Council, a non-elected watchdog working under the supervision of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. This included former parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, vice-President Es'haq Jahangiri and Saeed Mohammad, the chief of the Revolutionary Guards construction arm Khatam-ol Anbia.
But Ahmadinejad has long said he would not accept the council's verdict and would not recognize the election result. It was mainly the former principlist president that Agha-Tehrani was addressing in suggesting, in an interview with the reformist website Etemad Online, that those disqualified by the Guardian Council should try to address their own weaknesses.
Agha-Tehrani was an advisor to Ahmadinejad on Islamic ethics during his presidency between 2005 and 2013, but the two apparently fell out after 2011 when Ahmadinejad’s fraught relationship with Khamenei deteriorated badly. Agha-Tehrani lost the leadership of the conservative Paydari (‘Steadfastness’) Party in 2020 and was replaced by Sadegh Mahsouli, a financial tycoon and former IRGC general.
Agha-Tehrani advised disqualified candidates not to take their complaints into street protests but to pursue them legally. "Ends do not justify means," he said. "You cannot take up arms to become president…The regime will tolerate you up to a certain point, but later, its toleration will wear out…”
Asked if he thought former chief security official Saeed Jalili should withdraw from the election in favor of chief justice Ebrahim Raeesi (Raisi), as some principlists argue, Agha-Tehrani quoted the Prophet Mohammed: "If there are two candidates for a post and one of them is better than the other one, it would be an act of treason by the less qualified candidate to remain in the competition."
Praising both Jalili and Raeesi, Agha-Tehrani said he knew that they would eventually reach agreement. He did not mention two other conservative candidates, Alireza Zakani, a former member of parliament, and Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, a current member of parliament.
Larijani has been seen hiking in the Alborz mountains near Tehran. Larijani used to go to the mountains every Friday since the 1980s, often with Ali-Akbar Nategh-Nouri was he was parliamentary speaker from 1992 until 2000. This Friday, he was alone.
The other candidates in the presidential election are Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of the Expediency Council and former IRGC commander-in-chief, Abdolnasser Hemmati, governor of the Central Banks, and the reformist former vice-president Mohsen Mehralizadeh.
The only disqualified candidate advocating changes in the Iranian political system is reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh, who has continued to present his case on social media, particularly in chatrooms of the Clubhouse application.