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Hardliners Tighten Hold on Iran, Disqualifying 99% of Reformers from Upcoming Elections

Almost all so-called reformist candidates who registered to run in Iran’s parliamentary elections have been disqualified by the regime’s unelected Guardian Council, The Wall Street Journal reported (Google link) on Tuesday.

An official from an Iranian council of reformists said that only 30 of 3,000 contenders from the reformist camp, which advocates for greater political and economic freedoms, have been allowed to participate in February’s election. In total, two-thirds of all the 12,000 candidates who sought to run in the elections have withdrawn or been disqualified by the Guardian Council.

The Guardian Council, an extremely influential body in Iranian politics, determines who may run for public office and holds the power to veto any bills passed by the Iranian parliament. Six of its 12 members are Islamic theologians who are appointed by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, while the others are jurists who are chosen by parliament from a pre-selected pool. While candidates who are disqualified by the council may appeal its decision, such requests are not expected to result in many reinstatements.

The Journal wrote (Google link) last week that Iranian conservatives were increasingly cracking down on artists and political dissidents. In November, the Journal reported (Google link) that since signing a nuclear deal with world powers, Iran’s hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) stepped up its involvement in Syria, tested ballistic missiles, and arrested two businessmen with ties to the United States. “Conservatives opposed to any relaxation in the regime’s traditional hostility to the U.S. are pushing back strongly, both at home and abroad,” it added.

According to Iraqi security officials, the three American contractors who were kidnapped in Baghdad on Friday were abducted by Shiite militias, which are supported by the IRGC, the Journal reported (Google link) separately on Tuesday.

[Photo: Ayatullah Khamenei Speeches English / YouTube ]