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Narjes, Qasem Soleimani’s Daughter, in Family Feud over her Political Campaign in Tehran

Filed under: Iran

Narjes, Qasem Soleimani’s Daughter, in Family Feud over her Political Campaign in Tehran
Narjes Soleimani is running for a seat on the Tehran city council 1

A year and a half after his assassination, the family of Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, is publicly clashing over the intention of one of his daughters, Narjes, to run in Tehran’s municipal council elections held in parallel with the presidential elections.

Candidates for city council elections, like the Iranian presidential candidates, must receive “kosher” approval from the regime’s Guardian Council. Unlike the presidential elections, Guardian Council allows women to run for city councils. Candidates for all types of elections in the country are obligated to prove, among other things, “practical loyalty” to the principles of the Islamic Republic, first and foremost, proof of loyalty to the principle of Velayat-e Faqih (rule of the Supreme Leader). All political and religious authority is given to the Shia clergy, who make all of the state’s important decisions subject to approval by a supreme clerical leader. The councils were formed more than 20 years ago during the presidency of “reformist” President Mohammad Khatami.

The Iranian media reports that in light of the disenchantment of a large share of the population from the regime, the number of candidates running this year’s council elections is much lower than in the past, and in several cities, there are not even enough candidates to hold the council elections. Against this background, the Iranian opposition media reported that in cities where the number of candidates for the city councils is insufficient to hold elections, senior representatives of the regime, including IRGC commanders, approached well-known public figures in the cities and offered them tempting proposals such as receiving substantial bank loans at low-interest rates to encourage them to submit their candidacy.

No Shortage of Candidates in Tehran

However, in Tehran and Iran’s major cities, many candidates have registered, and the competition is close. According to Iranian media, more than 2,300 candidates who registered in Tehran have been approved by the Guardian Council. In the end, only 30 of them will get to be a Tehran City Council member.

Qasem Soleimani’s family has so far not run for any role in the regime since the assassination of the father of the family who enjoyed great popularity in Iran. However, several newspapers reported that Narjes Soleimani, Soleimani’s eldest daughter, registered as a candidate for Tehran’s city council. This became known after the Guardian Council published the list of candidates whose “fitness” had been approved

Qasem Soleimani had five children – three daughters and two sons. One son died a few years ago from disease. Zeinab Soleimani’s name made headlines a few hours after her father’s assassination. She turned to the television cameras and appealed to President Hassan Rouhani, who was paying a condolence visit, and asked him when and how the Iranian regime intended to avenge her father’s death. Months later, it was announced that Zeinab Soleimani had married the son of Hashim Safi al-Din, a cousin of Hassan Nasrallah and a senior Hezbollah figure. The couple moved to Lebanon.

Zeinab serves as a spokeswoman for the family and is responsible for the foundation in her father’s name. She was interviewed in fluent English2 in December 2020 by the Russian channel RT and defended her father’s path.

Zeinab and Narjes Soleimani
Zeinab and Narjes Soleimani
Qasem Soleimani with two of his five children
Qasem Soleimani with two of his five children when he was a soldier in the Iraq-Iran war.

A few days after the name Narjes Soleimani appeared among the candidates supported by the conservative camp, Soleimani’s third daughter, Fatemeh, issued a statement expressing opposition to her sister’s move, charging she was using the Soleimani name for political gain.3 Fatemeh Soleimani stressed that the Soleimani family never intended to accept positions in the regime and considered Narjes’ action as unacceptable. In a letter,4 she wrote:

Dear, Father, we have shamed you. You always taught us never to look for a chair, because your seat was on a battlefield. All my life, I tried not to even use the name Soleimani, because your voice always played in my ear. If we even used the name, you wouldn’t forgive us. Whoever enters this path will not only shame you, but, in your own words, will shame and anger the Prophet of Islam and the martyrs of this path.

Sohrab Soleimani
Sohrab Soleimani, brother of Qasem Soleimani, was the head of the Iranian Prisons Organization

Sohrab, the brother of Qasem Soleimani, issued a statement of misgivings about his niece’s decision and wrote on his Instagram account: “My brother, Qasem, I apologize to you, I tried to prevent Narjes from running, but I could not.”5

After the announcement was made, several conservative groups called on Narjes to cancel her candidacy. Ali Akbar Raefipour, a lecturer and senior spokesman for the conservative camp, called on Narjes Soleimani to retract her intention in order to prevent any possible harm and slander of Soleimani’s “holy name.”6

Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the speaker of parliament, expressed support for Narjes but retracted it.

The Iranian press reported that Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the speaker of the parliament for the past year and who served 12 years as the mayor of Tehran, encouraged Narjes Soleimani and stood by Narjes’ decision to run for the Tehran City Council. This is so that she could assist him in his deep rivalry with many influential elements in the city.7 In the end, Ghalibaf also joined the men who met with Narjes Soleimani to get her to retract her intention to be active in the political arena.8

Coalition of the Forces of the Islamic Revolution poster

Coalition of the Forces of the Islamic Revolution poster
Before and after: Narjes Soleimani’s face was blacked out in the poster (top) first published by the Coalition of the Forces of the Islamic Revolution. Later, she was prominently displayed on the poster (bottom).9

Nevertheless, Narjes Soleimani, who continues to run, enjoys the support of a long list of organizations affiliated with the regime’s conservative camp. They mobilized their resources to encourage voters to vote in the June 18, 2021,10 elections in favor of Narjes, Soleimani’s daughter. The Coalition of the Forces of the Islamic Revolution (CCFIR) published a list of 21 candidates for the Tehran City Council with Narjes’ name. This group also promoted the candidacy of Ibrahim Raisi for president, a candidate not backed by some of Narjes’ family.

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3 IranWire | Hardliners’ Hand-Wringing as Ghasem Soleimani’s Daughters Come Out of his Shadow