With Rouhani attempting to be reelected for a second term, but lacking the backing of the Supreme Leader, it seems other candidates have more possibility to be selected as a President. One of the top candidates is Ebrahim Raisi, head of the economic giant Astan Quds Razavi that enjoys significant influence over large swathes of Iran’s economy.
Raisi has held a number of government posts during the decades since the Iranian revolution. He has also been part of the judiciary, where he became a public prosecutor before being appointed Tehran’s deputy public prosecutor. Years later, he was appointed to be a member of the “Death Commission”, which has been exposed as authorizing the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners.
In 1988, Khomeini’s deputy Ayatollah Montazeri described Raisi, along with Morteza Eshraghi, Hossein Ali Nayeri, and Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, as perpetrators in “the execution of political prisoners in (summer of 1988)”. Several of these men have moved into even higher positions of authority in Iran, including the Ministry of Justice. Raisi has never commented on his role in the 1988 massacre.
As part of the Iranian elite, Raisi has continued to serve in various aspects of the government, as recently as 2014, being appointed as Iran’s chief public prosecutor. He is also been deemed as a possible successor for Khamenei.
During his career, Raisi was often commissioned for special judiciary missions by Khomeini, including the Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam, supervising the supreme leader’s assets. He also served as the first secretariat of the Headquarters of the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, a body associated with human rights and civil liberties abuses.
As a presidential candidate seeking re-election, Rouhani also had close ties with Khomeini during his early political career. Internationally, he has not been seen as a true reformer. “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,” according to The Washington Institute.
Rouhani has also been caught on tape boasting about Iran’s ability to fool international players into believing that Iran was not moving forward on its nuclear ambitions, while equipment was being put in place in 2006.
Even the 2015 nuclear agreement has not provided a positive impact on the Iranian economy, but allowed Iran to pay for its involvement in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.
Another potential candidate is Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who is the current mayor of Tehran. He has been active with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) since his days as a student, serving as a commander of various brigades, divisions, and other senior posts. He is known as one of the main elements behind establishing Basij intelligence teams aimed at identifying resistance cells, arresting dissidents and imposing harsh crackdowns on the people.
Ghalibaf was appointed by Khamenei to be the commander of Iran’s state police in 2000. Throughout his career, he has been a key player in cracking down on any perceived dissent among the people against the regime.
These are just a few of the candidates. Others include Hamid Baqai, who has been part of a long-lasting corruption scandal, and Saeed Jalili, who has been active in shaping foreign policy for Iran through two presidencies.
Clearly, those who are potential presidents for Iran have questionable histories and are likely to commit to real change in Iran on various issues, including human rights.