aside Iran Has Re-elected A Moderate Leader, President Hassan Rouhani

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President Hassan Rouhani

It looks like Iran is signaling a wish for better relations with the West with the recent solid re-election victory of a moderate politician to be its leader, President Hassan Rouhani. It is my opinion that the West would do well to support its efforts.

Iran’s President Rouhani won in a democratic election while he was promising to loosen overly restrictive rules on its peoples. But then there is the republican President Donald Trump who is being very gracious towards Saudi Arabia, a country that does not have a democratic election and where human rights infractions are also a fact of life there.

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ASSAD/ PUTIN/ ROUHANI

Here is the rest of the story…

On 5/10/17, Asa Fitch and Aresu Eqbali of the Wall Street Journal penned the following article, “Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani Wins Re-Election Comfortably. “(Leader has pushed better relationship with the West but faces a troubled economy at home.)

Excerpts:

“Moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won re-election by a wide margin Saturday (5/20/17), defeating a hard-line challenger and getting an endorsement for efforts to seek better ties with the West and attract foreign investment to bolster the economy.”

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Moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

“In his first term, Mr. Rouhani negotiated a 2015 deal with the U.S. and five other world powers to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions. During the campaign he pledged to work to have remaining sanctions against Iran lifted as he fights slow growth and high unemployment.”

“That task could be difficult with President Donald Trump in the White House. Mr. Trump, who before his election promised to rip up the nuclear agreement, is reviewing his administration’s Iran policy and said in April that Iran wasn’t living up to the spirit of the deal Further complicating any diplomacy, Iran refuses to stop ballistic missile tests that drew U.S. sanctions, insisting the program is for defensive purposes.”

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President Rouhani

“On Saturday (5/20/17), Mr. Trump started a visit to Saudi Arabia, the first stop on his first trip abroad as president,a sign of warming ties with Iran’s most important regional rival.  Saudi Arabia leads a Sunni Muslim alliance aimed at blunting the influence of Shiite Iran.’

“Mr. Rouhani scored a major victory over Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative cleric and judge close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Mr. Rouhani received 57% of the vote, Iran’s Interior Ministry said. Mr. Raisi took 38.5%. The rest of the vote was split between two minor candidates.”

Image result for photos of recent iran rouhani victory“It was a significantly bigger margin than Mr. Rouhani managed in 2013 when he was elected to his first term with 51%.”

“In a televised address, Mr. Rouhani highlighted the first-term agenda that swept him back into office and promised more progress in the coming four years.”

 

“Today, the world knows well that the Iranian nation has chosen the path of engagement without violence and extremism, while it is not willing to accept humiliation or threat,” he said.”

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The president in Saudi Arabia

“U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking in Riyadh Saturday with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir, said he hoped Mr. Rouhani’s re-election would improve Iran’s relations with the rest of the world by shifting its approach to issues of terrorism and human rights.”

“We hope that if Rouhani wanted to change Iran’s relationship with the rest of the world those are the things he should do,” he said.”

“But in Iran’s unique political system, where Mr. Khamenei has final say over state matters and limits the president’s power, Mr. Rouhani’s convincing victory may not translate into a mandate, according to Ali Vaez, a senior Iran analyst at the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.”

Image result for photos of recent iran rouhani victory“Rouhani’s ability to advance his agenda is more a function of his ability to build elite consensus than his margin of victory,” he said.”

“As president, Mr. Rouhani also doesn’t control the apparatus that directs Iran’s involvement in conflicts overseas, including in Syria and Iraq. That strategy, which has sometimes clashed with U.S. regional policy, is the responsibility of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a force accountable only to Mr. Khamenei.”

“This year’s race offered Iranians the choice between two starkly different visions: a technocratic government open to mutually beneficial interaction with the world versus an inward-facing emphasis on self-reliance coupled with populist appeal.”

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President Rouhani

“The margin of Mr. Rouhani’s win surprised some who saw Mr. Khamenei’s acceptance of the vote and Mr. Raisi’s loss as an acknowledgment of a sea change in Iranian attitudes. Iran’s population skews young, and many in the new generations want to improve Iran’s image and embrace cultural freedoms.”

“Despite Mr. Khamenei’s presence atop Iran’s system, presidents are powerful figures who help put in place policies approved by the leader and craft how Iran presents itself to the world.”

“Meanwhile, since Mr. Trump took office, the U.S. has slapped two rounds of new sanctions on Iran related to its ballistic missile program.”

Image result for photos of recent iran rouhani victory“Mr. Rouhani, however, has no control over the missile program, which is managed by the IRGC. During the second of three presidential debates, Mr. Rouhani criticized the IRGC’s test-firing of a missile emblazoned with a slogan calling for Israel’s elimination shortly after the nuclear deal took effect.”

“For Israel and the U.S. and its Arab allies, the election didn’t appear likely to alter distrust of Iran’s activities in the region. Iran is the main military and financial backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, putting it at odds with U.S. regional policy. It also props up Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon, a militant group the U.S. has long branded a terrorist organization.”

Image result for photos of recent iran rouhani victory“Mr. Rouhani has said he wants to push ahead with attempts to fix his country’s economic woes by building trade ties and developing industries at home with help from outside.”

“Mr. Raisi, a cleric who served for decades in Iran’s opaque judiciary and was appointed by Mr. Khamenei last year as custodian of a multibillion-dollar charity in the holy city of Mashhad, sought to capitalize on the lagging economy. He promised to triple cash handouts for the poor and revive a financially troubled low-income housing project.”

Related image“Mr. Raisi’s increased political prominence suggested he was in the running to succeed the 77-year-old Mr. Khamenei, who has had health problems. With the election loss, Mr. Kupchan said his political career was probably over.”

“Iran’s Guardian Council, a vetting body closely overseen by Mr. Khamenei, determined who could appear on the ballot for this election.”

Image result for photos of recent iran rouhani victoryVOTING FOR Iranian PRESIDENT

A brief history

  • 1981 “Current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei becomes president with more than 95% of the popular vote, following the assassination of predecessor Mohammad-Ali Rajai.”
  • 1989 “In another landslide, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, wins the right to succeed Mr. Khamenei.”
  • 1997 “Mohammad Khatami, a reformist, is elected president in a stunning upset, winning almost 70% of votes after courting young and change-minded Iranians on a platform of tolerance.”
  • 2005 “After a first round of voting in which no candidate wins a majority, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hard-line populist, beats Mr. Rafsanjani in a runoff with about 62% of the vote.”
  • 2009 “Mr. Ahmadinejad wins re-election with about 63% of the vote, but his reformist opponents, led by Mir Hossein Mousavi, dispute the result. Massive protests erupt, followed by a crackdown on the opposition.”
  • 2013 “After Mr. Ahmadinejad serves his second and final term, moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani wins the presidency with a narrow majority.”
  • 2017″Hassan Rouhani wins again, defeating hard-line challenger Ebrahim Raisi.”

2 comments

  1. Gronda, the median age in Iran is 35, so we still have opportunity to change the future paradigm with Iran through trade and more openness. Yet, that is scary, but something we should try.

    Saudi Arabia is our ally, but is less open than they should be. We can and should do business with them, but be mindful of their limitations on human rights. We also need to be mindful of lecturing others about coming down on terrorists and human rights, while backtracking on these issues in the US with so many domestic terrorists groups and tolerance of hate groups by this President.

    Keith

    • Dear Keith,

      I COULDN’T AGREE MORE. The USA should not take sides to favor Saudi Arabia or Iran. We don’t need to add or exacerbate their fears about each other.If Iran wants to become more open then we should respond with our eyes wide open to pitfalls. But then we cannot go to war because Saudi Arabia wants it. They were very upset with President Obama for executing the 2015 US-Iran Nuclear Deal,

      Ciao, Gronda

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