Guiding Light: The Clergy’s Role Beyond Politics in Elections


The Consequences of Political Discord

An editorial posted in Hammihan Online noted that if asked two months ago about the short-term future, there would have been no clear horizon. For the medium term, anticipation was centered on the 1404 elections, which seemed bleak. Even following the helicopter crash, prospects remained uncertain. However, the editorial argued that significant changes have occurred at the government level, offering a new perspective.

The editorial discussed the emergence of a political will among the people, including critics, and even extended to the subject of sanctions. These developments are evident at the community level, reviving hope. Despite this positivity, the editorial raised the issue of deep-seated disagreements across society and the political sphere.

This dissatisfaction, the editorial said, stems from the lack of open public space for political regulation according to societal wishes. When the path for political and social engagement is obstructed by political selection barriers, the editorial argued, people seek alternative ways to express their views and objections.

Elections, the editorial contended, are prime opportunities for such expression. However, official resistance to election-induced changes has reverted situations to previous states, exacerbating discontent. Consequently, public trust in elections as a means of change has diminished, making voter turnout difficult. The editorial emphasized that if desired changes are not soon visible, the situation could worsen, making it crucial to restore public trust in the government.

The editorial argued that changing the entire government structure and managers every three years hampers sustainable development. Political stability, the editorial discussed, requires establishing a level of agreement and empathy based on widely accepted laws. This stability is essential for the success of Pezeshkian’s government and all branches of governance.

The editorial emphasized the importance of adhering to the conditions of this agreement. Every moment of doubt in its implementation delays national reconciliation. This reconciliation, the editorial noted, has been pursued since 1400 and is crucial for national unity.

In the coming days, the editorial said, following the presidential decree and parliamentary swearing-in, Pezeshkian must appoint his cabinet. This appointment will indicate whether his team represents consensus, efficiency, and the ability to improve government and public affairs. If successful, the editorial concluded, it will pave the way for political harmony and societal development.

Hammihan Online

The New Government Should Resume Negotiations

An editorial by Abdolreza Farajirad in Arman Melli noted that the 13th government sought interaction with the United States and the West, aiming to reach a conclusion, but did not pursue serious and continuous efforts that would yield tangible results, particularly in lifting sanctions from the government and the people. The editorial argued that there was a lack of necessary seriousness in relations with non-Western countries.

The editorial discussed the 25-year agreement with China, approved by Rouhani’s government. Despite being in effect for over three years, there has been no significant implementation of the agreement which could have played a crucial role in the country’s development. The editorial raised the issue of missed opportunities, noting that although some claim sanctions hindered progress, the mayor of Tehran cited successful contracts worth $2 million in transportation, indicating that with initiative, progress is possible even under sanctions.

The editorial said that the overall performance of the 13th government did not yield significant success, although partial efforts were made with neighboring countries. Iran has 15 neighbors, and the editorial argued that there was potential for substantial collaboration with each. However, the level of exchange, such as with Turkey and Pakistan, did not reflect this potential. The editorial noted that while a relationship was established with Saudi Arabia through Chinese mediation, more comprehensive strategies are needed.

The editorial discussed the need for the new government to base its strategies on the international system and neighboring countries. It emphasized the importance of starting serious negotiations with the United States and Europe, noting that diplomacy is a world of compromises. By reaching agreements, sanctions could be lifted, and the FATF issue resolved, allowing the country to transact via the global banking system, sell oil at international prices, and eliminate middlemen and smuggling.

The editorial argued that resolving these issues is essential for significant progress. Regarding neighbors, the editorial emphasized the need for tailored strategies for each country, recognizing their unique characteristics. For instance, Iran’s relationship with Iraq, an energy exporter, differs from that with Pakistan, an energy consumer. The editorial noted the importance of sitting down, planning, and establishing special strategies for each neighbor, focusing on mutual benefits such as trade and tariff reductions.

The editorial discussed the role of the private sector in these strategies, suggesting that different sectors should handle exports and imports with various neighbors. It noted that the department working with Iraq might not be suitable for Pakistan, and vice versa. The editorial argued for creating a new development model that would improve people’s livelihoods and establish relative satisfaction.

Yet, the editorial emphasized the necessity for serious negotiations with the West and tailored strategies for neighboring countries to achieve sustainable development. By addressing these issues, the new government can restore public trust and foster political stability, ultimately leading to national reconciliation and progress.

Arman Melli

Elections and the Clergy

An editorial in Jomhouri Eslami newspaper discussed the significant role the Society of Qom Seminary Teachers played during Ayatollah Khomeini’s movement, emphasizing its contribution to the Iranian revolution. The editorial noted that this institution’s influence was substantial, being one of the pillars of the movement. Over time, the Society of Qom Seminary Teachers maintained and even strengthened its position, expected to serve the people and the Iranian republic with increasing brilliance.

The editorial argued that the society’s effectiveness and influence could be ensured if it adopted a paternal role for all societal classes, parties, factions, and groups. Such a position would enable the clergy and the seminary to guide the public comprehensively, especially during crises. The expectation was for the Society of Qom Seminary Teachers to be a beacon of guidance, embodying the spiritual and ethical characteristics of the clergy rather than acting as a political group.

The editorial noted that at some point, the Society of Qom Seminary Teachers began to stray from its rightful place, aligning with specific political factions and supporting particular individuals. This shift led to inefficiency and drew criticism from scholars within the Qom Seminary. The editorial raised the issue of this transformation, warning about its negative implications for the clergy’s future. It emphasized that the value of the Society of Qom Seminary Teachers lies in its spiritual identity, distinct from politicization.

The editorial argued that while being political and engaging in politics is not inherently contrary to a spiritual institution’s identity, there is a fundamental difference between political engagement and acting as a political group. For instance, during the recent elections, the Society of Qom Seminary Teachers could have encouraged people to participate and choose wisely without endorsing specific candidates. By naming a presidential candidate and urging people to vote for him, they acted more like a political party than a spiritual institution.

The editorial discussed the repercussions of this approach, noting that it led some students to promote specific candidates in cities and villages, framing the election as a choice to protect Islam. However, this strategy often backfired, as people tended to vote for the candidate presented as a threat to Islam. The editorial clarified that this behavior should not be interpreted as opposition to Islam but rather as a lack of trust in the clergy.

The editorial suggested that clerics should refrain from endorsing individuals and instead encourage people to fulfill their religious and political duties. This approach would help maintain the clergy’s spiritual and guiding role in society, enhancing its credibility. The editorial proposed that this method should not be limited to the Society of Qom Seminary Teachers but adopted by all seminary institutions and clerics.

The editorial further emphasized the importance of the clergy adopting a non-partisan stance, following the example of Khomeini, who never endorsed specific candidates in elections. By doing so, the Society of Qom Seminary Teachers and other clerical institutions could reclaim their former position and serve as credible guides for the people, ensuring their spiritual and ethical influence remains intact.

Jomhouri Eslami

Iran’s Futile Search for an FATF Alternative

An editorial by Kamran Nederi, an economic and banking expert, delved into Iran’s recent diplomatic moves regarding banking cooperation with Russia and proposed initiatives within the BRICS framework. It started by discussing the visit of Iran’s Central Bank Governor to Russia, where he stressed the imperative of bolstering banking ties between the two nations. Central to this agenda is the proposal for creating an institution akin to the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) among BRICS member countries. This proposal aims to mitigate the impact of sanctions and reduce reliance on the US dollar in international financial transactions.

Nederi’s editorial argued that while such initiatives are ambitious, they often encounter substantial challenges in implementation. He drew a comparison to previous Iranian proposals, such as replacing SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), which have historically struggled to materialize fully. The editorial noted that combating money laundering and terrorism financing are global imperatives agreed upon by nations worldwide through mechanisms like the FATF. These standards are deeply ingrained in international financial practices, making it difficult for alternative institutions to gain widespread acceptance.

The editorial highlighted a fundamental misconception in Iran’s approach to international financial governance. It suggested that Iran sometimes perceives these global standards — formulated largely under the auspices of Western-dominated groups like the G7 — as biased against its interests. Consequently, Iran occasionally seeks to forge new frameworks to counterbalance Western influence. However, Nederi contended that creating new institutions akin to the FATF is akin to reinventing the wheel, as the global community has universally adopted FATF standards.

Moreover, Nederi asserted that the viability of Iran’s proposals at the international level is questionable. He argued that all countries must adhere to FATF standards, and attempts to bypass or replace these standards are unlikely to succeed. Compliance with FATF norms is crucial not only for Iran’s integration into the global financial system but also for maintaining credibility and trust among international partners.

The editorial lamented that Iran’s insistence on pursuing alternative frameworks risks isolating it further from the global financial community. It suggested that Iran should instead focus on navigating existing international structures effectively, such as engaging constructively within FATF mechanisms. By doing so, Iran can better advocate for its interests while upholding international standards on financial transparency and security.

Furthermore, Nederi emphasized that international bodies like the FATF are inherently apolitical, focusing solely on combating illicit financial activities. Attempting to introduce political dimensions into such frameworks, as Iran occasionally proposes, may undermine their effectiveness and jeopardize global cooperation in tackling financial crime.

In conclusion, Nederi’s editorial underscored the importance of Iran’s adherence to established international norms and frameworks, particularly in financial governance. It advised against pursuing alternative institutions that may not garner international recognition or support. Instead, Nederi suggested that Iran should focus on constructive engagement within existing structures like the FATF to safeguard its economic interests while maintaining global credibility and integration.

Jahan-e Eghtesad

Was Pezeshkian’s Electoral Victory Orchestrated?  

The recent Iranian presidential elections concluded with Masoud Pezeshkian’s victory. In the first round, voter turnout was below 40%, marking an unprecedented low, but increased by about 10% in the second round. Pezeshkian ultimately secured around 53% of the vote, surpassing his opponent Saeed Jalili.

As the election results settled, internal conflicts within the Revolutionary Front and their interactions with the opposition became increasingly evident. The significance of remarks made by IRGC Deputy Political Commander Brigadier General Yadollah Javani two weeks before the election, now becomes more apparent.

Speaking in Qom on June 14, Javani acknowledged economic pressures on segments of society but emphasized the Iranian republic’s success in upholding its discourse against atheism. He underscored the destruction of Israel as crucial for Islamic civilization and highlighted favorable shifts in global conditions benefiting the Monotheism Front.

Javani noted that the election outcome could strengthen or challenge the Revolutionary Front and stressed the importance of high voter turnout and electing a president committed to Islamic principles. He critiqued previous elections that did not meet these criteria.

Pezeshkian’s approval and the disqualification of prominent “reformists” like Eshaq Jahangiri and Abbas Akhundi were strategic moves likely aimed at boosting participation. However, the effectiveness of this strategy remains contentious, with some “hardliners” suggesting potential candidate engineering by the Guardian Council in the aftermath of the election.

Radio Farda Persian

Pezeshkian Reiterates Support for Resistance Groups Throughout the Middle East

Iranian media recently reported that Masoud Pezeshkian, the newly elected president of Iran, has emphasized his support for Iran’s proxy groups and signaled his intent to strengthen relations with Russia. In response to a congratulatory message from Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah, Pezeshkian reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to supporting the “resistance axis,” which includes Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis in Yemen, and Shiite militias in Iraq, all of which Iran regards as pivotal in regional dynamics.

Pezeshkian also criticized Israel for what he described as its “war-inducing and criminal policies” towards Palestinians and other nations in the Middle East. Reuters has reported that these statements indicate a continuation of Iran’s established regional policies under Pezeshkian’s “moderate” administration.

Additionally, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Pezeshkian on his electoral victory and extended an invitation for him to attend the upcoming BRICS conference in Kazan, Russia. During a conversation reported by ISNA, Pezeshkian underscored Iran’s commitment to enhancing bilateral cooperation with Russia across various international platforms, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, and Eurasian alliances.

Throughout his campaign, Pezeshkian supported Iran’s return to the JCPOA nuclear agreement and questioned the effectiveness of Iran’s recent pivot towards the East under President Ebrahim Raisi, urging the implementation of existing agreements with China and Russia amidst ongoing challenges in international relations.

Radio Farda Persian

“Significant Increase” in Missile Production at Two IRGC Sites Near Tehran

According to a recent report by Reuters based on satellite images, Iran has commenced significant expansion projects at two key missile production sites near Tehran. US analysts, supported by interviews with three Iranian officials, assert that these developments aim to ramp up ballistic missile manufacturing capabilities.

The expansion projects at Modares military base and the Khajir missile production complex, both overseen by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), are linked to a 2019 agreement with Russia involving missile transfers. US officials claim Iran supplies missiles to Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Hezbollah, both part of Iran’s regional “resistance axis” and involved in anti-Israel military actions.

Satellite images from April and May this year reveal over 30 newly constructed buildings at these sites, many surrounded by protective earthen berms. Geoffrey Lewis from the Middlebury Institute explains that these berms are designed to contain explosions during missile warhead tests, indicating active missile production.

The Khajir site, near Pakdasht, experienced a significant explosion in 2019 possibly linked to rocket fuel activities. The Modares site, where the IRGC’s missile program pioneer Hassan Tehrani Moghadam died in an explosion 13 years ago, began expanding last fall, while Khajir’s development started last summer.

Radio Farda Persian

Amnesty International Warns of the Possible Execution of Ahmadreza Djalali

Amnesty International has issued a stark warning concerning the potential execution of Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-Swedish dual citizen imprisoned in Iran. The organization has urgently appealed to the Iranian government to halt any plans for his execution, overturn his death sentence, and release him from detention, citing serious concerns about his deteriorating health.

Djalali, a doctor and researcher, was arrested by Iranian authorities in 2016 while visiting Iran for a scientific conference. He was subsequently convicted of espionage for Israel, a charge he has vehemently denied throughout his ordeal.

Amnesty International highlighted the unfairness of Djalali’s arrest and trial process, calling for his protection from further abuse and access to necessary medical treatment. Following a hunger strike protesting his imprisonment conditions, Djalali’s health worsened significantly, prompting him to suspend the strike.

The recent exchange of prisoners between Iran and Sweden saw two Swedish citizens released in exchange for Hamid Nouri, a former Iranian official imprisoned in Sweden. Despite this exchange, Djalali remains detained, prompting ongoing international calls for his safe return to Sweden and intensified diplomatic efforts to secure his release. Amnesty International has underscored the need for an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Djalali’s case, demanding accountability for those responsible for his mistreatment.

Radio Farda Persian

Editorial Team