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Candidates for Iran Presidential Election

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INU – In Iran’s presidential elections, scheduled to be held on May 19th, one of the many candidates is Ebrahim Raisi, currently heading the economic giant Astan Quds Razavi that enjoys significant influence over large swathes of Iran’s economy.

Raisi was born in 1960 in the city of Mashhad in northeast Iran where he continued his early education until 1975 when he transferred to the city of Qom to begin his religious studies.

Following the 1979 revolution in Iran he was appointed into government posts while continuing his higher education. He is known to have taught religious studies and from 1991 he participated in classes held by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for 15 years.


Ebrahim Raisi

Raisi first began his work in the judiciary after 1979 when he joined a class in Tehran of 70 other clerics seeking to work for the government. In the early days Raisi accompanied the envoy of Iranian regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini to the city of Masjed Suleiman in western Iran, from where he went on to be appointed as a public prosecutor in Karaj, west of Tehran.

Two years later, while maintaining his previous post, he was also appointed as the public prosecutor in the city of Hamedan, western Iran. In 1984 he was transferred to Tehran and appointed as the capital’s deputy public prosecutor.

Years later, after gaining Khomeini’s personal attention, he was appointed as a member of the “Death Commission” tasked to supervise the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoner.

Following Khomeini’s death, Ebrahim Raisi was appointed as Tehran’s public prosecutor where he served the regime for five years until 1994. From there on he assumed the position of the regime’s general inspector until 2004, and moved on to serve as the judiciary’s first deputy until 2014. Continuing his climb up the regime’s ranks, he was appointed also as the prosecutor in the regime’s Special Clerics Court and went on to become Iran’s chief public prosecutor in 2014.

Following the death of Abbas Vaez-Tabasi, on March 7th, 2016 Khamenei appointed Raisi as head of the Astan Quds Razavi economic hub.

Ebrahim Raisi’s Role in “Death Commission” and 1988 massacre

In 1988, Khomeini’s deputy Ayatollah Montazeri described Raisi (then Tehran’s deputy public prosecutor) along with Morteza Eshraghi (a judge in Tehran’s Evin Prison), Hossein Ali Nayeri (Tehran’s public prosecutor) and Mostafa Pour Mohammadi (then representative of the Ministry of Intelligence and now Iran’s Minister of Justice) as perpetrators in “the execution of political prisoners in (summer of 1988)”.

The names of the first two individuals have been stated in Khomeini’s fatwa ordering the purge.To this day Resii has refused to make any public comments in this regard.

Over 30,000 political prisoners, mainly members and supporters of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) were executed in a span of a mere few months.

Other managing and political posts

Khomeini was known to mission Raisi to a variety of different special judiciary missions across the country. Ebrahim Raisi was also appointed by Khamenei as a member of board of clerics in the “Setad Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam” – Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam, supervising the supreme leader’s assets.

He also served as the Iranian regime’s first secretariat of the so-called “Headquarters of the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,” a body that is associated with human rights and civil liberties abuses.



Hassan Rouhani

INU – The incumbent candidate in Iran’s 2017 presidential election is Hassan Rouhani. Born in 1948 near the Semnan, east of Tehran, he began his religious studies in 1960 and moved to Qom, the hub of all Iranian regime conservative mullahs. He entered Tehran University in 1969 and continued his studies at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland.

While claiming to be a moderate, Rouhani enjoyed very close relations with Iranian regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini in Paris even prior to Iran’s 1979 revolution.

Rouhani (first row, second from left) praying with the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his followers in Neauphle-le-Château, France, 1978.

Rouhani has also been described as “relic” of the early days of the Iranian regime. He held numerous positions, including Secretary and Representative of the Supreme National Security Council, member of both the Assembly of Experts and Expediency Council, and different posts in the Majlis (parliament).

“Rouhani has expressed support for blatant violations of international law over the past thirty years, including the 1979 U.S. embassy takeover, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s 1989 fatwa against Salman Rushdie, and the general use of extrajudicial, transnational violence (e.g., in 1987, he declared that Iranian forces had the capacity to “destroy American economic interests around the world”),” according to The Washington Institute.

Early after the 1979 revolution Rouhani was appointed as the “Military Coordinator” during which he began purging the existing military, replacing them with those utterly loyal to Khomeini. Through the span of the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s that left millions of people killed and injured, and saw the regime even sending small children to battle and literally “clear” minefields, Rouhani is known to have served as the right hand of former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, then appointed by Khomeini himself as commander of the armed forces.

“In the mid-1980s, as a military commander and nascent diplomat, Rouhani implicitly endorsed the development and use of chemical weapons,” reports show.

During the 1999 student uprising that shook the Iranian regime’s very foundations Rouhani headed the Supreme National Security Council and made his position known through his remarks.

“These students are too pathetic and worthless for us to have to begin changing our directives. The continuance of this mess is not acceptable for our regime and the people. I issued strict orders against these elements [the students] to confront and severely deal with these opportunists. Wherever they are, we will handle them and suppress them. People will witness what today’s security and disciplinary forces, the heroic members of the Basij (auxiliary militia) will do to these rabble-rousers and thugs, if they dare to imagine that they can continue their so-called peaceful campaign. The agent that has united our people today, is simply indestructible; that agent is Islam and Islamic rule which is the absolute symbol of the Supreme Leadership,” he said.

Later on, Rouhani served as a nuclear negotiator and placed his effort to depict an image of a cooperative Iranian regime to the international community. However, Rouhani has been quoted of boasting about deceiving the West.

Gatestone Institute reported:

“In April of 2006 during a speech at the Assembly of Clerics, Rouhani was caught on tape, boasting that while talks were taking place in Teheran, Iran was able to complete the installation of equipment for conversion of yellowcake — a key stage in the nuclear fuel process — at its Isfahan plant, but at the same time convince European diplomats that nothing was afoot. “From the outset,” he said, “the Americans kept telling the Europeans, ‘The Iranians are lying and deceiving you and they have not told you everything.’ The Europeans used to respond, ‘We trust them!'”

After reaching the regime’s presidency in 2013, Rouhani pledged to loosen social restrictions, provide economic relief for the people and release political prisoners. Four years down the road, however, Iran continues to be known for its flagrant human rights violations. Rouhani’s report card shows over 3,000 executions. The windfall provided through the deal that claimed to curb Iran’s nuclear program has only been used to further fuel Iran’s involvement in Syria and warmongering across the region, purchase weapons systems and further drive the regime’s ballistic missile initiatives. And last but not least, the Iranian people have yet to feel any social or economic relief under Rouhani’s tenure.


Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf

INU – As Iran closes in on its upcoming presidential elections on May 19th, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, currently the mayor of Tehran, is one of the participating candidates from the conservative “principalists” faction.

Born in 1961 in a town near the city of Mashhad in northeast Iran, Ghalibaf claims to have earned a PhD in political geography while being a member of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). He is also known to have undergone Airbus pilot training in France.

Ghalibaf joined the IRGC paramilitary Basij units during the 1979 revolution and went to Iranian Kurdistan as the regime launched a crackdown campaign against dissidents. An IRGC member from the very beginning, he went to frontlines as the Iran-Iraq War began in 1980.

Throughout the war he was a commander of various brigades, divisions and other senior posts in the IRGC, sending many young Iranians, and even children, into battle and the deadly minefields.

As the war dwindled he played a leading role in the crackdown of Iran’s northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran. In 1990 he went back to the IRGC and was appointed as the unit’s Ground Forces chief of staff. A year later he moved on to the IRGC Joint Headquarters Coordination Office until being promoted in 1994 to deputy commander on the Khatam Al-Anbia Construction Company, a leading firm associated to the IRGC.

That same year he was transferred and appointed as the Basij deputy commander where he played an active role in popular crackdown and establishing bases associated to the “Headquarters of Promoting Virtue and Prohibiting Vice,” an entity known for its human rights violations.

Ghalibaf is also known as one of the main elements behind establishing Basij intelligence teams aimed at identifying resistance cells, arresting dissidents and imposing harsh crackdown on the people.

In 1997 he moved on to become the IRGC Air Force commander, replacing Brigadier General Jalali. During the 1999 student uprising across Iran, Ghalibaf and a number of other senior IRGC commanders had written confidential group letter to former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami calling for the government to control the unrest.

He is also known to have made startling remarks in this regard.

“When [the protesters] poured to the streets and headed towards the leader’s house, I was commander of the IRGC Air Force. There is an image of me holding a club and riding a motorcycle in the streets… I was there to round up the protesters. When needed we will come to the streets and use our clubs. We are amongst the club-wielders and proud of it,” he said.

Her served in this post until the year 2000 and was very active the IRGC missile units and expanding their numbers from three surface-to-surface missile units to five brigades, and mainly focusing on further developing the Shahab ballistic missile.

On June 27th, 2000, Khamenei appointed Ghalibaf as commander of Iran’s state police to replace Brigadier General Lotfiyan. Through the span of the next three years he commanded the state police in their crackdown of public dissent across Iran.

Ghalibaf expanded the police anti-riot units, established state police border posts and launched the repressive “110 Police” units. He also imposed several fundamental changes in the police hierarchy and allocated huge budgets to provide these organs more equipment used in popular clampdown.

Ghalibaf participated in the 2005 presidential election and failed to receive a significant number of votes. After this defeat he was selected by the Tehran City Council as the city mayor. In 2013 he once again participated in the presidential election, failing yet again after finishing second. Afterwards, he once again received the majority of the Tehran City Council votes and was appointed as mayor for a third term.


Saeed Jalili

INU – With only weeks left to Iran’s presidential elections, one of the candidates of the “principalists” camp is Saeed Jalili. Born in the city of Mashhad, northeast Iran, in 1965, he received his diploma in his hometown and moved to Tehran for college studies.

During the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s time and again he went to the frontlines as a member of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards Basij units despite his high school and college studies.

He suffered a major injury in 1986, rendered an amputated leg in a field hospital. From the war he moved on to the Foreign Ministry in 1989 and served in various posts for 18 years. At the age of 30 he was appointed as head of the Foreign Ministry Inspections Office and remained at this position until 1996.

When Mohammad Khatami became Iran’s president in 1997, Jalili was appointed as the deputy of a sensitive Foreign Ministry department in charge of relations with the U.S. It was also during Khatami’s tenure that Jalili was stripped of this position and appointed as manager of ongoing inspections in the office of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

With the beginning of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tenure as president in 2005, Saeed Jalili was once again appointed to the Foreign Ministry and even considered Ahmadinejad’s first pick as the regime’s top diplomat. However, various factors played in and he was eventually placed at the helm of the most important Foreign Ministry department, in charge of issues related to Europe and the U.S.

Enjoying Ahmadinejad’s all out trust in foreign policy, Jalili went on to be appointed as secretariat of the Supreme National Security Council in early fall of 2007 after current parliament speaker Ali Larijani resigned from this post. In early summer of 2008 Khamenei issued an order appointing Jalili as his representative in the council.

He served in this post and launched the Iran nuclear negotiations and during his years in the Supreme National Security Council the international community issued three U.N. Security Council resolutions under Article 41 of Chapter 7 in the U.N. Charter, describing Iran as a threat to world peace and security.

On September 10th, 2013, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani replaced Jalili with Ali Shamkhani as secretariat of the Supreme National Security Council. Jalili moved on to take part in the 2013 presidential elections and came in third.

He has also been a member of the regime’s Expediency Council since September 12th, 2013 and member of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, chairing the body’s Political Commission from June 15th, 2014 to this day.

“Inflexible, ideological and a close ally of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei” is how The Washington Post described Jalili back in 2013.

In the 2013 presidential elections Jalili was considered Khamenei’s desired candidate to lead the next government, according to Radio France International. However, he lacked any executive experience and the necessary colleagues for his cabinet. As a result, his cabinet would have been filled with former Revolutionary Guards commanders and clerics from Khamenei’s inner circle, RFI added.


Hamid Baqai

INU – As the campaign for Iran’s presidential elections heats up prior to the May 19th polls, the promotion of Hamid Baqai by former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has raised eyebrows across the board. Baqai was born in 1969 in the city of Hamedan, western Iran and claims to have earned a Master’s Degree in political geography.

Reports indicate he served in the Ministry of Intelligence and the Department of Managing Crisis Zones during the final years of the Iran-Iraq War that spanned to the better portion of the 1980s. He was then appointed as head of the branch focusing on Israel and Iraq in the Counterintelligence Department, serving as head of the Office of Intelligence Evaluation. In 1993 he was transferred to the Interior Ministry and has a record of also serving in different posts of various governmental institutions, including state TV and radio, Tehran’s municipality, Ministry of Science and the Cultural Heritage Organization.

On April 9th, 2011 Ahmadinejad appointed Baqai as his administrative deputy and caretaker of the presidency administration.

Baqai announced his candidacy in the 2017 presidential election back in February and described himself as an independent candidate and running on such a ticket. While Ahmadinejad had previously announced he would not support any candidate in the 2017 presidential election, he changed his position on March 19th and placed his weight behind Baqai.

Considered a controversial figure, Baqai has been the center of a long-lasting corruption scandal. Orders for his temporary detention had been extended on numerous occasions, while his lawyers complained if their defendant’s case was not politically motivated it should have been finalized long ago. One lawyer said the reason why his detention has been suspended yet again was Baqai’s complaint against the presidency of the incumbent Hassan Rouhani.

However, Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency described Baqai’s theft dossier “a catastrophe far worse than the case of (oil tycoon) Babak Zanjani.”

“Baqai has invested in 10 different countries and has stolen so much money that Iranian authorities must such for a few years to just identify his assets. Returning them to Iran is an entirely different dilemma,” an Iranian official explained.


About Siavosh Hosseini (351 Articles)
My background is in the visual arts, particularly in photojournalism. I have had the opportunity to cover scores of international artistic and news events in the US and across Europe since the mid-1980s. I was active in television newsrooms and production as a graphic designer and producer for more than 12 years in different television and news outfits in Europe.

2 Comments on Candidates for Iran Presidential Election

  1. Just another in a long line of religious zealots running Iran and keeping an iron grip on power. It’s silly to think there is some distinction between “moderates” and “hardliners” in a nation where there are no political party separations and final and absolute authority is vested in just one Supreme Leader.

  2. Bunch of criminals, executioners and torturers, with black and white turbans racing in a sham election with no legitimacy.
    We, Iranians boycott this election (read it Selection) and demand the totality of the theocratic regime to go.

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