Elham: 3rd of Tir current supports Ahmadinejad, opposes all others

Gholam-Hossein Elham, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s legal advisor

Gholam-Hossein Elham, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s legal advisor

Source: 598 , Date: 21 September 2011

In an interview with 598, Gholam-Hossein Elham, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s legal advisor since 2009, outlined many of the 3rd of Tir Current’s main positions which could be important in shaping the upcoming 2012 Majlis (legislative) election in Iran.

Elham is a leading figure in the 3rd of Tir Current, which is backing the Persevering Front of the Islamic Revolution (Jebhe-ye Paydari Enghelab-e Eslami) election committee for the 2012 election. A member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) during the early years after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, he has also held a number of senior positions including spokesman and justice minister in the first Ahamdinejad administration (2005-2009), Guardian Council legal scholar, Judiciary spokesman, and law professor at the University of Tehran.

While Elham and other supporters of the 3rd of Tir Current have distanced themselves from Ahmadinejad’s closest confidant Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei and criticized the president for mistakes in his second term, he emphasized that the president himself was still a highly relevant player in Iranian politics:

 “It is a strategic mistake if we thank that Ahmadinejad has died [politically] and is finished, and that these currents [Ahmadinejad’s social base] shall turn to us…Ahmadinejad has mistakes and this is important, but his capacities still exist. His social base still exists. We cannot bury this current alive. However we must manage and eliminate his errors.”

He soon shifted the discussion to the 3rd of Tir Current’s political identity, discussing the context in which they had emerged:

 “The discourse of 3rd of Tir was the discourse of returning to the fundamentals of the [Islamic] Revolution and there is no doubt about this…It was a return to religious values. It was to take the country’s management from a secular and aristocratic group [referring to the Reformists and ex-President Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani]. It was a movement about values. Its discourse is alive and well in our society and this is a positive and strong point of our society.”

Toward the end of the interview Elham alluded to the political factions whom he considered opponents of the 3rd of Tir Current’s political discourse:

“Who represents this discourse today? At the very least those who stood against Ahmadinejad in 2005 [referring to both Reformists and Pragmatists] cannot represent this discourse.”

“In the last two years some [referring to the Traditional Principalists] have committed an unforgivable mistake and their mistake was that in vying for political power they sacrificed principles. Because of their anger at Ahmadinejad they supported undeniably anti-regime force.”

Elham was categorical in warning that these opponents should not be allowed to infiltrate and lead the Principalist faction:

“If people see that those who oppose the 3rd of Tir Current’s discourse have come to lead the Principalists, they [the people] shall turn their backs to us and we shall waste all of our potential.”

Referring to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s concept of “absorbing the majority of elites, burying the minority”, a strategy to heal rifts between factions in the regime, Elham criticized the Seven Plus Eight/Principalist Unity Committee and expressed the belief that:

“Absorbing the maximum does not mean that we should absorb a guilty person at any price, and as a result have 20 million people turn their back on the regime. Absorbing the maximum means absorbing those 20 million people. The Seven Plus Eight model has the above fault. This methodological error leads us away from realising key ideals.”

In an openly hostile comment against Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, Elham stated that the latter should be excluded from the Seven Plus Eight Committee:

“The criteria of the elections have been set by the supreme leader. One of these [criteria] is that the heads of the branches [of government] do not interfere in these elections. [Yet] we have placed the head of one of these branches in a managing role [of the Seven Plus Eight Committee]. This is fundamentally incorrect…Why has Ali Larijani come [into the Committee]?”

Editor’s note: As we noted in our commentary on 19 September 2011, sources in the English-language media were incorrectly portraying the Ahmadinejad administration as being politically isolated. As Elham’s interview shows, there is still a key group in Iran’s factional politics which, while criticizing Mashaei, still strongly backs Ahmadinejad. This group also strongly opposes the factions which have defined Iranian politics since at least 1997, including the Reformists, Pragmatists and Traditional Principalists.

The 3rd of Tir Current, which appears to have the backing of the supreme leader and IRGC, has called for the younger generation of the revolution to play a more active role in politics as the role of the older generation declines.

Elham’s comments also add weight to the argument that the Seven Plus Eight Committee is dead on arrival, and that the 3rd of Tir Current-linked Persevering Front of the Islamic Revolution election committee may break from it in the near future.