Personality and ambition may increase the divide between the Gulf States

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On June 18, 2021, presidential elections were held in Iran with an unprecedented abstention in the history of the republic (up to 48% of the electorate did not vote). They saw the victory of the most conservative and reactionary wing of the Iranian political landscape, embodied by Ebrahim Raisi, who will take office as the new President of the Islamic Republic next August.

The moderates who had rallied around the outgoing President Hassan Rouhani (who defeated Raisi in the 2017 elections) tried by all means – especially through propaganda on social media – to stimulate the voices of the population against the conservatives, albeit with Little success since then, shattered by the effects of the severe economic crisis, half of Iranian voters have chosen to express their disapproval of the general situation in the country with a simple refusal to vote.

During the 2017 election campaign, Raisi had sharply criticized Rohani for joining the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) agreement with the “5 + 1” (France, China, USA, Great Britain, Russia and Germany) thanks to Iran has limited its nuclear program to civilian purposes only and has refrained from developing nuclear weapons in return for resumption of trade and the lifting of sanctions.

Rouhani’s victory in 2017 showed he had the support of the majority of the Iranian people, who were tired of paying for the conservative wing’s nuclear dreams with an alarming rise in poverty. Nonetheless, Raisi’s significant share of the vote, 38%, was there to show that the reactionary soul of the Islamic Republic was still alive and well.

The sudden and misguided initiative of President Trump, who withdrew the United States from JPCOA in 2018 and tightened sanctions against Iran, undoubtedly played for Raisi, who in the eyes of the most conservative voters was the only staunch defender of the Iranian cause against the siege of Westerners who are allied with Iran’s traditional enemy, Israel.

To understand how the domestic and foreign policy strategy of Iran under President Raisi – the one protege of the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, the highest religious authority in the country and leading representative of the most orthodox wing of the theocratic regime – we have to start from the biography of this personality who for the next five years would be a protagonist of. will be international relations in the Middle East.

Born 61 years ago in the city of Mashad, Ebrahim Raisi joined the renowned Qom Seminary in 1975, the highest institute for culture and teaching of Islamic-Shiite doctrine in Iran and the center for the development of the ideology of “velayat-e faqih”, The“ guardianship of the Islamic jurist ”, thanks to which Ayatollah Khomeini – then in exile in Paris – succeeded in mobilizing the Islamic masses against Shah Reza Pahlavi and overturning his rule with the 1979 revolution.

After Khomeini’s victory, which he enthusiastically supported, the young Raisi took up the position of special prosecutor, who distinguished himself through the systematic elimination of thousands of representatives of the previous regime and through the brutal suppression of Kurdish irredentism.

After being appointed Deputy Prosecutor of Tehran in 1985, Ebrahim Raisi was appointed by Ayatollah Khomeini to head a four-member committee known as the “Death Committee” of all dissidents incarcerated in Iranian prisons because of his eagerness to get rid of the opponents of the theocratic regime are to be eliminated.

The “death committee” led by Raisi was directly responsible for the killing of 8,000 dissidents imprisoned by the regime. When asked about his involvement in the repression activities, Rasi replied, “If a judge or prosecutor has defended people’s safety, they should be valued for their work… I am proud to have defended human rights (sic!) In every position . “I stopped.”

Thanks to his efforts to suppress the real or suspected anti-Khomeinists who were exterminated in the 1980s and for whom the new Iranian president is currently being determined by the United Nations, Raisi has had a brilliant career. From 1989 to 1994 he held the post of Chief Prosecutor in Tehran, and in 1994 was appointed Head of the Inspectorate General and later Prosecutor General of Iran and Prosecutor of the “Special Court” charged with overseeing and overseeing the integrity of the entire administration of the state and its components. In 2004 he was appointed the first deputy of the highest Iranian judiciary and distinguished himself in this role by ruthlessly suppressing protests after the 2009 presidential elections.

In 2016, Supreme Leader Khamenei named Ebrahim Raisi as the “Keeper of Ali Al Rida Shrine” in his hometown of Mashad, a position that provided him with billions of dollars worth of assets in a “charitable fund” that was unsupervised or unsupervised Control could be used.

In this role, Raisi showed himself to be incorruptible and thus confirmed himself – in the eyes of the most conservative public – as an enemy of corruption and a loyal advocate of Khomeini’s ideals. This played a fundamental role in the elections on June 18 last year.

Another important issue that Raisi raised in the recent election campaign against his predecessor Rouhani was Iran’s accession to the JPCOA, which has been intended to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions since 2015.

According to the deal, Iran is expected to reduce its enriched uranium deposits by 98% and the number of centrifuges over the next 13 years, while limiting its enriched uranium content to 3.6% of the total over the next 13 years 15 years.

In 2018, IAEA inspectors tasked with verifying Iran’s compliance with the terms of the agreement raised doubts as to whether Iran’s commitment to the nuclear race had really been reduced. On April 30, 2018, the United States and Israel issued a joint statement officially accusing Iran of hiding part of its nuclear program for the development of nuclear weapons from international inspectors.

In the months that followed, US President Donald Trump reintroduced the entire program of sanctions against Iran and the nations that trade with the Ayatollah regime after the JPCOA was indicted.

Trump’s move has been criticized by the other countries adhering to the JPCOA agreement and by many western chancelleries because the further impoverishment of the Iranian population by the sanctions regime – as most recently in the presidential elections – would increase support for those who, like Raisi Sie Sie, would always support sworn enemies of the American “Great Satan” declared.

Israel, for its part, continues to boycott the continued progress of Iran’s nuclear research through covert operations that have so far resulted in the physical elimination of the key technical directors of the nuclear program and the cyber-sabotage of the dedicated equipment and warned regime leaders that Israel is part of the Islamic Republic will never allow themselves to be armed with nuclear weapons.

A “nuclear Iran” would be a deadly threat to Israel. Iran is physically present with the Lebanese Hezbollah, permanently settled on the northern border of Israel and is also physically present in Syria with its own military contingent.

For Israel, the possible supply of nuclear weapons by Iran would pose such a “clear and present threat” that it would be a legitimate pretext for a preventive war that would upset the entire region.

Next August, when Ebrahim Raisi takes office as President of the Islamic Republic – who said in the election campaign: “Our actions must be aimed at improving people’s living conditions and restoring lost trust” – will initially face an unprecedented economic crisis with an inflation rate of 30% and a population of 50% living below the poverty line.

As a “hardliner”, but also a pragmatist and incorruptible, Raisi could decide to resume the JPCOA negotiations, also with the support of the new US President Joe Biden, in order to loosen the noose of international sanctions that are strangling the Iranian economy.

To this end, he should give up his nuclear ambitions and thereby displease the “principleist” wing, the most reactionary faction in the Iranian political spectrum, which has so far supported him unconditionally and unreservedly.

A difficult path for the new president, who should show in concrete terms that he wants to relax with the West and at the same time counter the likely reactions of internal fundamentalism.



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