Mohammad Qarazi was a long-serving minister during the 1980s and 1990s, but is not a very well-known figure in contemporary Iranian politics. His approval as a presidential candidate was a surprise, as he has been absent from Iran’s political arena for more than 15 years.
He presents himself as an independent candidate with the technocratic skills to head an effective administration. However, in the public eye he is seen as a moderate conservative.
At times, Qarazi has comes close to appearing to be a single-issue candidate. He has focused on eliminating inflation as his main campaign promise, using the slogan, “A government of no inflation.”
Qarazi held one of the Iranian government’s longest ministerial tenures, working with Mir Houssein Mousavi during his time as prime minister between 1981 and 1989, the period when Ayatollah Khamenei was Iran’s president. During this time, Qarazi served as minister of petroleum. Subsequently, under Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, he served as the minister of the postal service, telegraphy and telecommunications (now the Ministry of Communications) in his first term.
In 1997, the Iranian weekly Sobh accused Qarazi of favoritism in delivering telephone services to officials, mismanagement, breach of budgetary guidelines, and suspicious practices in awarding foreign contracts. Qarazi subsequently took the newspaper’s publisher to court. The publisher was cleared of charges of slander and perplexing public opinion, but found guilty of insulting Qarazi.
Taking aim at inflation
According to a report published by Press TV on May 22, Qarazi said he will form a cabinet focussed on taming inflation in order to improve the country’s economy if he wins the June 14 vote.
Qarazi also said that the Iranian economy has been left in ruins over the last two years, and has blamed the administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the high rate of inflation and the widening gap between the rich and the poor in Iran, in common with several of the other candidates.
“I want the people of Iran to give their votes to a government that would not have inflation on its hands. This is my program, and it is a clear, open program,” Qarazi said.
Relation with the US
Qarazi believes that the normalization of relations with the United States is against Iran’s interests.
According to the Fars news agency, Qarazi ruled out the possibility of direct talks with Washington in a statement on May 23, but stressed that communication channels between the two countries should be open.
He justified his position with reference to former Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh, saying: “Sixty years ago, Mosaddegh negotiated with Washington, but the US orchestrated a coup d’état against him and overthrew his government.”
Meanwhile, Qarazi has said that, with the exception of the US and the Israel, Iran does not have hostile relations with the rest of the world, adding, however, that European countries have been following Washington’s stance towards Iran since 1980.
Qarazi is the least well known presidential candidate among those running, with the lowest public profile of all the candidates. He has been absent from front-line politics since 1997.
According to the Tasnim news agency, Qarazi has said: “I have no money, campaign staff [or] press secretary, but I have the experience and a program to solve the problems of inflation in the country.”
Qarazi’s approval by the Guardian Council surprised many, while other, much more active “principalist” candidates like Baqer Lankarani were disqualified.
He is seen as unlikely to withdraw from the race and also unlikely to attract principalist votes, but his presence in the race may attract some undecided votes, making him something of a wild card in the election.
• 1941: Born in the city of Shahreza, near Isfahan in central Iran.
• 1974: Begins political activities.
• 1976: Joins the Left-wing Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO).
• 1980: Elected to the Iranian Parliament.
• 1981–1985: Serves as minister of petroleum.
• 1985–1997: Serves as minister of the postal service, telegraphy and telecommunications.
This article is part of a series of Asharq Al-Awsat profiles of the Iranian presidential candidates.