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Ahmadinejad's Potential Nominees For Iran's Presidency; The Men Who Would Not Be King

A couple of days after being overwhelmed by the news of death and the controversy surrounding the funeral of one of Iran's most prominent singers, the Iranian press have returned to their business as usual, with speculations about the 2021 presidential election.

Former Majles Speaker Ali Larijani's silent campaigning, usually silent former reformist figure Mohammad Reza Aref becoming vocal overnight, and at least two confirmed reports about IRGC generals joining the bandwagon to run for president are among the developments one would have expected to see.

One really new development regarding the upcoming election is a fresh turn in former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's plans for presidency. According to the Iranian press, Ahmadinejad is probably aware that his own candidacy might not be welcomed by conservatives who are one or two shades more hardliner than him. 

Subsequently, some Iranian journalists guess that Ahmadinejad might want to take on the role of king maker in the same way that he managed to get several dozens of his supporters into the Iranian parliament in February.

The reformist daily Aftab Yazd has lined up at least five presidential candidates who could become the king with Ahmadinejad as king maker.

The five who are expected to run for president in June 2021 by proxy for Ahmadinejad include state auditing chief Mehrdad Bazrpash, former oil minister Rostam Ghassemi, former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, former Guardian Council and government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham and Mostazafan Foundation Chief Parviz Fattah.

None among the five has a clean sheet devoid of controversy. All of the five are known for their links to the ultraconservative Paydari Front, an ill-reputed segment of Iran's conservative camp connected with Ahmadinejad.

Former auto industry figure Mehrdad Bazrpash who also runs the Paydari mouthpiece Vatan-e Emrooz daily, has just left behind a major controversy about his allegedly fake academic credentials and career background. Even the conservatives at the Majles questioned the validity of more than a few of the papers and documents he presented to the Majles as one of the candidates for the post of the state auditing organization chief.

The controversy is far from over as his critics occasionally bring those documents under the spotlight while some whistle blowers have even taken these cases to the court.

Yet another negative point in Bazrpash's background is that he was a candidate for the 2017 presidential election but he forgot to go and register his candidacy at the Interior Ministry and arrived there a few hours after the office had closed for the day.

Former Oil Minister Rostam Ghassemi, also a former IRGC and Basij commander, has a very brief career record, and even that is all about mismanagement. He was allegedly implicated in several cases of mishandling the ministry's financial affairs, but while others involved in these cases including entrepreneur Babak Zanjani have ended up in courts with death sentence and other verdicts, Ghassemi has not been touched.

Former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili was mocked by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's senior advisor for international affairs, Al Akbar Velayati, during the 2013 presidential election as a man who wasted a lot of time in the nuclear negotiations and "preached and read out dissertations instead of putting forward Iran's position." 

If he really decides to run for president once again, it will prove that getting just around 11 percent of the votes in 2013 probably did not convince him about his popularity among voters.

Gholamhossein Elham has always been Ahmadinejad's favorite aide, not because he could pull some strings at the Guardian Council, but because his wife, Fatemeh Rajabi wrote a book titled "Ahmadinejad, the miracle of the third millennium," a lofty title in absolute compliance with the former president's "world vision" and his ideas about "managing the world." Obviously, Ahmadinejad never paid any attention to the fact that many Iranians and media always used the title in a sarcastic way.

Parviz Fattah has already ruined his career at least twice on live TV by attacking people close to Khamenei and then having to publicly apologize. Judging by the five men's careers and track record, with all his mistakes and political blunders, Ahmadinejad himself is still a better candidate than any one of these five men. The reformist daily put forward those names as Ahmadinejad's men probably with less than good intentions.

Meanwhile, both of the two IRGC generals nominated for Presidency, General Hossein Dehghan and General Ezatollah Zarghami, have been close to Ahmadinejad during his presidency. Dehghan was his defense minister and Zarghami always supported him as the chief of Iran's only broadcasting organization.

The only name in the press on Sunday October 11 as a prospective candidate who would not even want to be made king by Ahmadinejad, is Ali Larijani whose career, as well as the carriers of his brothers Ahmadinejad has effectively tarnished if not ended by showing a video at the Majles in February 2013 that portrayed the Larijani clan as corrupt profiteers. The attack hit so hard that the Larijani clan have never been able to walk with their heads held high.

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