The Financial Times reports: When Iran’s centrist president Hassan Rouhani last month entered the Hosseinieh, the hall in central Tehran where Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei holds his public meetings, for a religious ceremony, he was greeted by jeers.
At the gathering to mark the start of the mourning month of Moharram and, crucially, in the presence of the supreme leader, hardliners chanted “death to hypocrites” as Mr Rouhani and others behind the flagship nuclear deal between Iran and world powers arrived.
The fact that hardliners felt free to criticise the president in the presence of the supreme leader is seen as highly symbolic. With two key elections due in February, moderate politicians believe the shouts were choreographed to demonstrate the supreme leader’s approval of hardliner tactics to undermine the president ahead of these polls. [Continue reading…]