Mohammed Bagher Ghalibaf has been many things in Iran. A former mayor of Tehran, he has run for president three times. He was an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander in the 1990s, police chief between 2000 and 2005 and then mayor through 2017. Now he is speaker of parliament.
These days, Ghalibaf seems to be getting a lot of positive coverage at sites such as Tasnim and Fars News, which are close to the IRGC. They seem to be highlighting his support for the poor and “the people” more than President Hassan Rouhani. This could indicate that his profile is being raised prior to elections next year. The goal would be to portray Ghalibaf as actually doing something amid Iran’s current economic problems.
It is not entirely clear what the agenda is, but in a country where the media is linked to the state but where there are competing agendas, the decision by media to highlight one person and not another has a message. This is because rather than highlighting criticism of Rouhani, which the Supreme Leader in Iran has condemned due to recent insults of the president, it is easier to just not mention Rouhani and make the speaker of parliament visible at all times.
Ghalibaf was criticized by Rouhani earlier this month for visiting a hospital where the speaker met victims of COVID-19. It appears Rouhani sees his recent trips as a form of populism aimed at increasing his stature among people by showing he is in tune with the crisis.
It is worth watching Ghalibaf in the upcoming months, since he has been portrayed as trying to listen to the people in various regions of Iran and solve their problems. Ghalibaf also has an interesting and diverse background, as his father was Kurdish. Whether he will try to run for president again and succeed remains to be seen.
Source » jpost