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Hardliners Say Calls For Rouhani’s Resignation Meant To Destablize Iran

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pictured in front of a portrait of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, October 14, 2019

The call by a prominent reformist politician in Iran for President Hassan Rouhani to resign has angered hardliners, who themselves have been attacking the president for the past three years.

Hardliners are accusing the proponents of Rouhani’s resignation of trying to destabilize the country, like Iraq and Lebanon, and to pave the way for the emergence of a government obedient to the West.

In an interview with Seda Weekly recently, Abbas Abdi, a reformist politician and journalist, said "no administration or government can or should continue its work…with this level of tension [among the various elements of the state]" and called on Rouhani to resign.

Mohammad Abdollahi, a hardliner journalist reacted to Abdi in a commentary in Afkar News on Sunday. "The Rouhani resignation scheme is a component of the shock doctrine and the strategy of eliminating the administration, exactly like the resignation of the prime ministers of Iraq and Lebanon which led to the intensification of violence and chaos in their countries," Abdollahi retorted.

Abdollahi alleged that radical reformists "have orders for the same multi-stage project as their Iraqi and Lebanese comrades" and similarly want to pave the way for the emergence of "governments obedient to the west" through creating economic problems, street protests, chaos and political destabilization.

Although there has been turmoil in Iraq and Lebanon, no governments “obedient to the West” have emerged in these countries.

Nameh News, another hardliner website, claimed that the reason for the reformists' call on Rouhani to quit is his "continuous failure in the past three years" and "saving the remainder of the dignity of the moderates and reformists by shifting part of the blame to other political entities in the country".

The reformist Abdi has argued that to get out of the current stalemate there are only three ways: The cabinet gets a vote of confidence from the Parliament; the cabinet is reformed or there is an early presidential election which can be held simultaneously with the Majles elections in May or even earlier in March.

Abdi rules out the first and the second options on the grounds that "the approval or disapproval of the Majles does not matter" and "it is not the President's colleagues but the President himself" who is the issue for his hardline opponents who make every effort to paralyze his administration.

In order to hold early elections, the President should be dismissed by the Supreme Leader; impeached and dismissed by the Parliament, or he should resign himself. Abdi suggests that as dictated by the Constitution, the Supreme Leader can appoint an interim president after Rouhani’s resignation to serve until new elections.

In all three instances the ball will be in the Supreme Leader's court and this is what angers the hardliners the most as he will be responsible for whatever happens. He can no longer shift the blame to the President in the eyes of the public when the economic situation worsens, due to U.S. sanctions.

Abdi has also underlined that there is no guarantee Rouhani's resignation will make a fundamental improvement. "The important point is to get out of these inexcusable circumstances and clarify the situation," he says.

Abdi claims that even some of the cabinet members have reached the point where they think it is impossible to continue work with this level of tension among the components of the state. According to him, even First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri is somehow in agreement with other cabinet members that the situation is unsustainable.

Disagreements between the President, the Majles and influential bodies such as the Guardian Council and Expediency Council have practically caused a stalemate on important issues. These entities are under Khamenei's control and exert his will in all important decision.

Joining International conventions of financial transparency and holding talks with the U.S. are among the most controversial issues facing Iran and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his hardliner supporters hold the veto power.