Who is the only person in Iran whose candidacy Khamenei may not be able to ban and whose anti-regime rhetoric would be hard to control prevent once the campaign starts?
Seyed Hassan Khoumeini, grandson of the IR’s founder who reformers are urging to run for president next time. That would put a obstacle in Ahmadinejad’s plans for this brother-in-law who probably wouldn’t get past the official vetting process anyway.
Koumeini has made blistering attacks on Khamenei’s totalitarian crimes, expressed strong admiration for western-style democracy and once suggested publicly and loudly to western reporters that Iranians might be better off if the Americans invaded if that were the only way to get ride of the present totalitarian system. Could this man hold the key for Iranians to get out from under without civil war?
Imagine the pressure Khoumeini’s candidacy could put on a discredit and unpopular regime. The Guardian Council may not be able to block him without setting off an explosion. Once in the race, what might Khoumeini have to say, repeatedly, about mullah rule? Will the regime dare go after journalists who quote him or students and crowds who cheer him? Khoumenei could even steal some strongly religious Iranians away from Khamenei and to his own side. Would the regime dare rig this election too though the reformer’s winning margin may be twice as big? If he did so, would Khamenei dare put the “loser” under house arrest once again? What would that do to the regime’s remaining support in the public and among security force troops?
If I recall Khamenei did put the young Khoumeini under house arrest briefly during the post-election crackdown. That’ll be harder if becomes a candidate with a huge following–even bigger than Mussavi’s — and with the whole world looking on, including Arab Spring Islamists.
If the regime lasts long enough for a presidential election and if Khamenei hasn’t eliminated presidential elections by then, this could get interesting. Khoumeini has played things low key for some time, and such plans could explain it. The only way Khamenei and the hardliners can prevail against this man is by assassination–a tactic used previously to get rid of Khoumeini’s son, a fierce regime critic, many Iranians believe. Whether or not Khoumeini was responsible, what counts is that the every member of the Khoumeini family seems to have no doubts.