Tehran: Former Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, a known loyalist of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatullah Khamenei, has filed a nomination to run for the upcoming Presidential election in the Islamic Republic.
Larijani was a prominent conservative voice who has headed as commander of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard and also served as the minister of culture and Islamic guidance and as the head of Iran's state broadcaster. He later allied himself with Iran's relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani.
Under hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he served as secretary of Iran's powerful Supreme National Security Council for two years, and as a senior nuclear negotiator. He later became speaker of the Iranian parliament for some 12 years, stepping down in May 2020.
Larijani had an active role in signing a 25-year strategic agreement with China earlier this year. On Friday, as a sign of respect, Larijani reportedly asked permission to run from high-ranking clerics in the religious city of Qom.
Like outgoing President Rouhani, Larijani has maintained close ties to the cleric over his decades in government. According to Barbara Slavin, who is the director of the Future of Iran Initiative, Larijani is someone Khamenei trusts to represent Iran without compromising the regime's basic tenets of religious supervision over society and independence from foreign powers'
At the same time Larijani registered, so too did Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, the eldest son of the late former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rafsanjani, a member of Tehran's city council, has been described as a reformist by political commentators.
Several other candidates have prominent backgrounds in the Guard, a paramilitary force answerable only to Khamenei. According to reports, Hard-liners have increasingly suggested a former military commander should be president given the country's problems, something that hasn't happened since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution and the purge of the armed forces that followed.
Iran's former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also registered for elections on Wednesday. Though his attempt to run in 2017 ultimately was blocked after Khamenei criticized Ahmadinejad, this year the supreme leader has not warned him off.
On Friday, reformist leader Mostafa Tajzadeh announced his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election, the first time a regime critic has registered for the post in the Islamic Republic.
Within Iran, candidates exist on a political spectrum that broadly includes hard-liners who want to expand Iran's nuclear program, moderates who hold onto the status quo, and reformists who want to change the theocracy from within.
Those calling for radical change find themselves blocked from even running for office by the Guardian Council, a 12-member panel that vets and approves candidates under Khamenei's watch