Iran Daily: Hardliners Try to Box In Rouhani


Head of Supreme Leader’s office, Mohammad Mohammadi Golpaygani (pictured): “The unemployment dilemma is causing chaos”

Having failed to prevent the re-election of Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s hardliners are trying to box in the President from any attempt at political and social changes in the Islamic Republic.

Rouhani won a second term on May 19, officially taking 57% of the vote against 38.5% for hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi. The President’s opponents initially threatened to contest the legitimacy of the ballot, but backed down last week as the Guardian Council and then the judiciary said there was no evidence of fraud affecting the outcome.

However, the cautions to Rouhani against pursuit of his initiatives, from “engagement” in foreign policy to the release of political prisoners, have continued since the vote.

This weekend the regime returned to the issue of the UN’s Education 2030 agenda, an effort for “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Rouhani’s Government has supported the campaign, including meetings with UNESCO head Irina Bukova; however, during the campaign, the Supreme Leader condemned Education 2030 for supposed leadership by forces hostile to the Islamic Republic.

Friday Prayer leaders throughout the country were the outlet for the latest challenge. In Mashhad, Iran’s second city, Ayatollah Ahmad Alamalhoda called on the judiciary to annul the agenda for “cultural assimilation and equality”. Qazvin’s prayer leader said Education 2030 is “incompatible with our intellectual foundation, principles, values, and religion, because the principle of this document is in line with globalization and the American presidency”.

In Semnan, the prayer leader asserted that the agenda’s “sole purpose” is to promote Islamophobia, while in Esfahan, the presiding cleric objected to Education’s call to remove “talk of jihad, martyrdom, and revolution” from educational and training systems. He claimed the “disgraceful” document calls for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

An “Unemployment Dilemma”

The challenges to Rouhani were not only from the pulpit. The Supreme Leader’s office chose the economic front for its criticism, with the head of Ayatollah Khamenei’s office, Mohammad Mohammadi Golpaygani, chiding the Government: “Today is time of work and labor…the country needs work, [and] the unemployment dilemma is causing chaos.”

While inflation fell from more than 40% to single digits in Rouhani’s first term and there was a recovery in growth of almost 7% in 2016, unemployment is still officially almost 13%, with rates even higher among youth.

And a member of the Supreme Leader’s inner circle, former Speaker of Parliament Gholam Haddad Adel, returned to the election to insist that the 16 million votes for Raisi — a figure below the hopes of hardliners and conservatives, as they rallied around a single candidate to fight Rouhani — were “an investment for the future”. Haddad Adel said Rouhani’s comments during the campaign, challenging factions such as the Revolutionary Guards and calling for political and social change, were “unconstructive”.

(hat tip to the Iran News Roundup for translations)

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