With less than a week left for the national elections to Iran’s ninth national assembly, the Majlis, the lines and positions of the various participants are getting sharper. And in this atmosphere, some supporters of ultra-conservative extremist cleric Mesbah Yazdi calling themselves the Armangarayan (the ideologues) have created a new political group which is expected to be more hardline than the principlists.
Yazdi is mentioned as the leader of this new group, the Steadfast Front of the ideologues (Jebhe Paydari) who are supporters of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the ninth Majlis elections. This group refrained from joining the United Front of the Principlists (Jebhe Motahed Osoolagarayan) – which is led by such clerics as Mahdavi Kani and Mohammad Yazdi, both leading members of the conservative Association of Combatant Clerics.
The creation of this new group (the Steadfast Front) was announce by Hossein Allahkaram, the head of the a council that unites the Hezbollah groups in Iran (Shoraye Hamahangi Niruhaye Hezbollah), who said, “The two groups called The Ideologues and the Principlists will replace the older groups known as Principlists and Reformers.” He added that the purpose of launching the Ideologues group went beyond the March 2 Majlis elections.
Allahkaram said that the Steadfast Front was the ideologue group while the Principlist Front was the principlist group and predicted that the battle for the Majlis next week would be primarily between these two groups.
Groups and personalities close to Mesbah Yazdi had in the past mentioned that this conservative cleric intended to form a new political group. Nasser Saghai Biriya had last month announced that Yazdi would be using his students and cadres to implement a new initiative.
Members of the Steadfast Front had earlier claimed that the supreme leader of Iran was not happy with the United Front of the Principlists. According to Morteza Agha Tehrani, the secretary general of the Steadfast Front, the political actions of the United Front of Principlists were opposed by the leader because he objected to some of the leaders of the group.
Mesbah’s New Supporters in the Guards
The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have in recent days expanded their support for the Steadfast Front (Ahmadinejad’s allies). This shift was noticeable as prior to this, the force focused on encouraging the public to participate in the elections in general.
The steadfast front is made up of former minister and supporters of Ahmadinejad who formed this group for the purpose of participating with a single voice in the Majlis elections. The group was led by Mesbah Yazdi and the financial support of Sadegh Mahsooli. But despite heavy pressure, the group refrained from joining the United Front of the Principlists.
A few months ago, Roohollah Hosseinian had announced that leader of the Islamic regime wished for principlists to enter the Majlis race with one voice and one list. But differences within this principlist group have emerged since so that Hamid Rasai – a close associate of Yazdi – said this regarding uniting with the United Front of the Principlists: “Now is not the time to unite. Had we united, pressure on the regime and [the leader] would have been greater.”
Members of the Steadfast Front have said that the reason for the leader’s displeasure with the groups is the presence of some members of the “sedition” (supporters of the 2009 protests against the presidential election of that year) in the group. Some such members are Ali Larijani and Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf.
In another development, Hamid-Reza Moghadamfar, the cultural and social deputy of the IRGC force recently criticized Steadfast Front members Ali Larijani and Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf and said he would not vote for Majlis candidates Ali Motahari and Mohammad-Reza Bahonar.
Influential cleric Mohammad Reza Bahonar, who is currently the deputy Majlis speaker, and is accused by Ahmadinejad supporters to be a sympathizer of the 2009 election protests, recently told Aseman weekly that ayatollah Mesbah’s role in managing the country may actually increase in the near future. Bahonar is a man who is aware of many behind-the-scenes events may be heralding a realignment of the political mosaic of the country.