By Ali Omidi, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s attempt at a political comeback came to an abrupt end following his reported Aug. 30 meeting with the supreme leader.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly told Ahmadinejad that his provincial tours in recent months were inappropriate and that his candidacy in the May 2017 presidential election would be divisive, thus effectively barring him from taking part in the vote.
As news of the meeting surfaced, Ahmadinejad’s supporters, who initially dismissed the reports of Khamenei’s recommendation, quickly began raising doubt about whether the meeting had even taken place and, more so, what was reported to have transpired.
As such, on Sept. 27, Khamenei personally and openly confirmed his reported discouragement of Ahmadinejad’s candidacy in the May 2017 election. In an open letter issued on the same day, Ahmadinejad declared his obedience to the supreme leader and stated that he would follow his recommendation.
Khamenei’s key motivation to oppose Ahmadinejad’s candidacy was to avoid the re-emergence of a divisive atmosphere ahead of the presidential vote, which could cause a repetition of the events that followed Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009.
Subsequent to Ahmadinejad’s withdrawal from the presidential race, and in an effort to create some hope for their own camp, the Principlists have begun pointing fingers at President Hassan Rouhani’s Achilles’ heel: the economy.
Mohammad Reza Bahonar, an influential Principlist politician, has said that he believes the solution for his camp is to put forward a popular figure with an attractive economic plan for the poor. In an interview with the conservative outlet Nasim on Oct. 4, he said, “A new face in the Principlist movement will be more successful in the race. An economic hero can win the 2017 elections.”