January 20, 2022
Two former Iranian presidents had a meeting with a former parliament speaker and the grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini sparking speculations in Tehran.
Former presidents Hassan Rouhani and Mohammad Khatami, who met recently with the other two figures, were presidents for a combined period of 16 years.
While Rouhani is a centrist within the political paradigm of the Islamic Republic, Khatami is a top leader among reformists. Ali-Akbar Nategh-Nouri, a third prominent figure in the meeting, lost to Khatami in the 1997 presidential election but remained parliament speaker at the time.
Khomeini’s grandson, Hassan Khomeini does not have a notable political record, but carries a last name which inevitably draws a measure of respect from regime supporters.
The meeting has sparked speculations as to whether the four prominent figures came together to discuss politics and perhaps chart some sort of joint plan of action given the country’s multiple crises and the hegemony of hardliners.
The most interesting aspect of the meeting is Rouhani’s participation. He has kept a low profile since he left office in early August and has made no political comments. However, the four politicians have kept silent about the purpose of the meeting.
Javad Emam, a person close to Khatami, however, told local media that the meeting was not related to any political-organizational matter. “Mr. Khatami might hold similar meetings but [reports] about such meetings being related to organizational matters and future elections are not true.”
This careful statement still leaves a lot of room to speculate and wonder what two former presidents, a former parliament speaker and a Khomeini grandson discussed.
Emam added that Nategh-Nouri is considered a conservative and he could not be involved in discussions of what reformists might plan to do.
But from a different perspective, it might be more interesting that a centrist (Rouhani), a reformist (Khatami), and a traditional conservative opposed to current hardliners come together and hold a meeting.
Iranian politicians, who are not at the helm of power any longer, and many commentators have been loudly warning that the country and the Islamic ruling regime are in a precarious situation. The economy is in a four-year crisis because of US sanctions. Talks with the United States to resolve Iran’s nuclear issue and remove the crippling sanctions have led nowhere after more than nine months of talks in Vienna.
President Ebrahim Raisi, who assumed power last year, with the full backing of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s supporters, is already in political trouble, having solved none of the country’s pressing issues. Not only critics and commentators, but also the hardliner parliament is pursuing the impeachment of four of his ministers.
In this highly volatile political environment, the meeting between four non-hardliners is bound to lead to speculations, although many would say that all four are worn out figures, who do not have the degree of credibility they might have had 5, 10 or 20 years ago.
Crisis after crisis and a steadily worsening economic situation in the past 12 years have left no insider politician untouched in Iran.
Former Iranian presidents Hassan Rouhani and Mohammad Khatami had a meeting with a former parliament speaker and the grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni sparking speculations in Tehran.