Former Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan has dropped his bid to run for president in Iran’s June 18 election in favor of Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi, the chief of the Judiciary.
Dehqan was one of the most prominent figures to register as a candidate, and his withdrawal in favor of Raeisi came as somewhat of a surprise, given the fact that Dehqan had held a cabinet portfolio under incumbent Hassan Rouhani, who is politically opposed to Raeisi. Rouhani and Raeisi were each other’s main rivals in the presidential election four years ago, when they clashed openly in presidential debates.
In a tweet on Monday (May 24), Dehqan said “given the presence of individuals from [different] political factions and independent people, I do not see any necessity to stay on and hereby announce that I’m revoking my candidacy, and that I will place everything in my ability at the service of the establishment, the Revolution, and the candidates of the Revolution front, above all Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi.”
Dehqan currently serves as an adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on defense affairs. Before entering Iran’s political scene in 2003, he had held several posts at different units of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), including as the commander of the IRGC Air Force.
Dehqan’s announcement comes a day before Iran’s Constitutional Council is scheduled to finish vetting the hopefuls who have registered to run for president. The oversight panel will submit a final list of the candidates to the Interior Ministry on Tuesday.
A heated campaign season is expected shortly after the list is out.