How Iran’s Supreme Leader paved the way for Rouhani’s victory

Al-Monitor: Two days before Iranians voted for who would succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of the Islamic Republic, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered a rhetorical olive branch to the country’s opposition. He said that even those who “do not support the Islamic system” should come out and vote.

Khamenei’s message was a direct and unprecedented acknowledgement of the reformists and millions of silent secularists who comprise Iran’s “opposition” as stakeholders in the country. It was also a message to them that their votes would count.

This overture should be considered now that Hassan Rouhani — a candidate supported by reformists, and a reformist himself in all but name — has become the seventh president of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Supreme Leader’s comments actively contributed to the success of a candidate that is not within the conservative confines of his “principlist” political stable, in the process creating a more inclusive and pluralistic Iran. Contrary to endless punditry about Saeed Jalili being Khamenei’s favored candidate and even the front-runner, it now appears that the Supreme Leader made the calculated decision to acquiesce to the will of the Iranian people. [Continue reading…]

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