Khamenei to support Ahmadinejad in any case as there is no alternative: experts

Azerbaijan, Baku, May 14 / Trend D. Ibrahimova/

Though statement by Iranian religious leader Ali Khamenei claiming that accusing Ahmadinejad of unsuccessful policy are ungrounded does not mean that Khamenei will support Iran's current parliament in the coming elections, he will give preference to this party, experts say. 

"The Supreme leader Ali Khamenei has not been very happy with the way that Ahmadinjad has run the government," American expert on Iran of Iranian origin Shahram Akbarzadeh told Trend . "But the alternative for the Supreme leader is too hard to contemplate."  

Religious Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei said in his speech in Kurdistan that accusing Ahmadinejad of unsuccessful policy specifically in the sphere of economy is unfair.

Experts do not believe that Khamenei's speech can be viewed as a support for President Ahmadinejad in the presidential election to take place on June 12.

"The Supreme leader Ali Khamenei has not been very happy with the way that Ahmadinjad has run the government. Ahmadinejad's populist economic policies have raised expectations in Iran, to a level that could not possibly be met by the government," Deputy Director of National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne professor Akbarzadeh told Trend by email.

Over the last four-year tenure of Ahmadinejad, the country became economically more isolated due to the UN Security Council sanctions targeted at halting Iran's nuclear program. Europe and West is suspicious about Iranian nuclear program's peaceful nature. Iran claims the country develops nuclear programs for peaceful purposes and is not going to halt it.

"This has led to dissatisfaction even among the hard core of conservative voters. And the Supreme leader has been aware of this trend," Akbarzadeh said.

Ali Khamanei, who has been Iran's religious leader since 1989, controls major leverages of the state including courts, army and media. He appoints judicial system, state radio and television officials. His powers were extended following 1989 Constitutional amendments. According to article 110 of the Iranian Constitution, religious leader also determines Iranian government's policy.

He also controls Guardian Council which composes 12 members appointed directly or indirectly by Khamenei. The Guardian Council members have a right to veto parliament's decision and test candidates' reliability.  

American expert on Middle East Kenneth Katzman said the Supreme Leader's position on the election is not known for certain.

If the Supreme Leader believes that Ahmadinejad will not likely be re-elected, then the Supreme Leader will probably not get involved by actively helping Ahmadinejad, Katzman said.

"The Supreme Leader does not want to risk his prestige and his authority on a candidate that might lose the election," fellow at the U.S Congressional Research Service Katzman wrote to Trend in an email.

Iranian people also do not consider Khamenei's statement to be a support for Ahmadinejad.

"Personally I did not see Khamenei's support for Ahmadinejad during a speech in Kurdistan," Chairman of Union of Journalists Ali Mazrui told Trend over telephone from Tehran.

Mazrui said Khamenei's speech aimed to ease critics by other presidential candidates against the government. Khamenei stated once again that he will support none of the candidates in the elections, he said.

However, experts are doubtful whether Khamenei will support non-conservative candidate.

Chairman of the National Trust Party and Former Speaker Mehdi Karroubi and Former Prime Minister Mir Hussein Moussavi have nominated from reformists and incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and former head of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (Sepah) Mohsun Rezai have been nominated from conservatives.

"Khamenei cannot and will not support a reformist. Last time Iran had a reformist president Khatami , people were pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in Iran," Akbarzadeh said.

Reformist President Mohammad Khatami, who ruled from 1997 to 2005, attempted to normalize ties with the U.S. However religious leader Ali Khomenei opposed negotiations. During Khatami's office, freedom of citizen and media were promoted. President Khatami urged for a dialogue between Western and Eastern cultures.

"The Supreme Leader maybe unhappy with Ahmadinejad's economic incompetence, but he is more unhappy with the existential threat that reformist could beckon for the Islamic regime," Akbarzadeh said.

T. Jafarov contributed to the article.

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