The Speaker of Iran’s parliament Mohammed Baqer Qalibaf (Ghalibaf) has been in the news more often lately, trying to involve himself in local politics and foreign policy. He recently torpedoed the idea of negotiations with the US. He is hostile to America and Europe, and encourages distrust of both.
He wants “smart and active resistance” to the West and also wants to undermine any potential nuclear inspections or IAEA reports.
This means he potentially sits astride important policy decisions and is linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei in his overall views.
These views are called “hardline” in Western media, part of the largely mythical narrative that there are “moderates” and “hardliners” in Tehran. Qalibaf is not so much a hardliner as an extreme right-wing nationalist, and his views represent the more extreme right of what is already a far-right theocratic regime.
Who is this Qalibaf and why might we see more of him? He is from northeast Iran’s Razavi Khorasan province and is apparently of Kurdish ancestry. He was born in 1961.
He has a PhD and was a former pilot in the IRGC. He rose through the ranks during the Iran-Iraq war, eventually commanding a division. After he left the fighting units and studied he got involved in running companies linked to the IRGC.
He remained close to Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani, who he had known during the war years.
He believes in the same worldview as Soleimani, using Iran to support Hezbollah, Yemen, Iraqi Shi’ite militias and Palestinians.
In 1999 he bragged about his role in suppressing protests, according to one account.
He and Soleimani even signed a letter that was sent to then President Mohammed Khatami urging a crackdown.
Qalibaf liked to beat the protesters with a stick, Arab News claims. After his stint in the IRGC he became mayor of Tehran.