By Nader Uskowi
Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, the spiritual leader of the ultraconservative Perseverance Front, today publicly endorsed the candidacy of Saeed Jalili for president. Mesbah Yazdi praised Jalili, saying he was hopeful that Jalili would revive Islamic values in the society. The ayatollah, pictured here, made his public endorsement after meeting Jalili for more than four hours today.
“I thank the Almighty for letting me live under a righteous regime that was led by Imam Khomeini and now his successor, a supreme leader that is following Imam Khomeni’s path… Our group evaluated the candidates on different factors, but supporting Islamic values were the determining factor for us… After Mr. Lankarani (who will not be on the ballot), we believe Mr. Jalili is the best candidate that represents the Islamic values… We hope he would be a good assistant to the supreme leader as well,” Mesbah said. (Fars News Agency, 28 May)
Mesbah Yazdi has never been shy about his own fundamentalist religious beliefs and teachings, famously repeating that in Islamic governments, the president and other elected officials do not, and cannot gain their legitimacy from the popular vote, but from the blessing of the supreme leader who acts as the representative of the Hidden Imam.
Mesbah has also said many times that the republican nature of the Islamic Republic is secondary to its Islamic essence; and has actually proposed that Sharia laws be the governing laws of the country. But most importantly, he is the leader of a very influential faction within the Islamic Republic whose thinking are closest to the Taliban and the Saudi Salafis, albeit their Shia Version.
Mesbah’s endorsement of Jalili and Jalili’s expression of joy from such endorsement might actually cost Jalili large amount of vote and further help the chances of the already popular Mayor Qalibaf of Tehran. After the disqualification of Rafsanjani by the Guardian Council, Qalibaf is considered the frontrunner. He would have received the votes of many moderates on both sides of the country’s political spectrum, who would have otherwise voted for Rafsanjani. Now, Mesbah’s spirited defense of Jalili could even push more of the moderate and pro-reform sympathizers to vote for Qalibaf in order to stop Jalili. Interesting election, full of intrigues and surprises; Stay Tuned!