Sources have revealed that Iran’s top security official who resigned on Monday, has presidential aspirations.
The seasoned official tried to increase his public appeal by requesting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s permission to seal a nuclear deal with the US before he quit, sources within the conservative establishment close to Shamkhani said.
Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative judge from the principlist faction, won the 2021 election with the support of Iran’s ruling elite.
But his popularity has declined among both the people and the establishment as his administration has failed to address the country’s severe economic problems.
As a result, rumors are swirling that Raisi may not get a second term, and a source close to Shamkhani told MEE that the former security council secretary intends to compete for the presidency.
Shamkhani has a lot of political experience, strong ties with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and a lot of money to support his possible presidential bid.
A former official from the conservative camp said that the Guardian Council, which screens candidates for elections, would surely endorse Shamkhani if Khamenei gives him the green light to run.
Shamkhani has enhanced his image and become a key player in Iran’s foreign policy choices during Raisi’s presidency, especially since there is no strong foreign minister.
He is praised for his major role in the recent deal with Saudi Arabia to resume diplomatic relations and reduce regional frictions, which he signed in Beijing.
A source from the principalist faction who knows about these developments said that Shamkhani tried to raise his profile more by asking Khamenei for permission to wrap up the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, but the supreme leader didn’t reply.
“Shamkhani is playing both sides: he has written to the leader, saying ‘let me handle the agreement’, but in the end, the leader will have to bear the responsibility,” the source said.
“And the leader does not want to be accountable at all for the revival of the JCPOA.”
Despite his political and financial power, there are worries among the conservatives about Shamkhani’s sons.
According to the source from the principalist camp, Shamkhani’s sons own a shipping company with dozens of oil tankers that are suspected to be used to smuggle Iranian oil and therefore they would have gained financially from US sanctions on Iran.
Such allegations could affect Shamkhani’s electoral prospects.