World, International Affairs, Iran

World, International Affairs

Exclusive: Iran hard-liner Raisi to win election at pivotal Middle East moment, poll shows

Exclusive: Iran hard-liner Raisi to win election at pivotal Middle East moment, poll shows

6/18/2021 12:24:00 AM

Exclusive: Iran hard-liner Raisi to win election at pivotal Middle East moment, poll shows

'All indications suggest that [Ebrahim] Raisi will become Iran 's next president,' Iran Poll CEO Amir Farmanesh said in a statement shared alongside exclusive data sent to Newsweek. 'Contrary to what some believe, his election is unlikely to significantly change the course of Iran 's foreign policy.'

that"the result of the presidential election in Iran has nothing to do with the ongoing talks in Vienna.""There is a widespread consensus across the Iranian system on our approach towards JCPOA," Nazemi said at the time."As we have said on numerous occasions, as soon as the US lifts its sanctions in accordance with its JCPOA obligations, and that is fully verified, Iran will immediately return to its JCPOA obligations."

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Other experts who spoke withNewsweekhave also echoed the idea of the JCPOA being part of a"consensus" established within Iran's policymaking circles with Khamenei's blessing. Raisi has expressed skepticism toward the JCPOA in the past, even before Trump's unilateral exit, but he has since reaffirmed his support for the deal as one greenlit by the Supreme Leader.

"In the event of a Raisi victory in Iran's election, JCPOA reentry should not be greatly affected on the Iranian side, because there is already a consensus and support from the highest levels of the Iranian state, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei," Assal Rad, senior research fellow at the Washington-based National Iranian American Council, told

Newsweek."Raisi himself has signaled his support for the deal as well."Iran Election Already Has Likely Right-Wing Winner, But Nuclear Talks Go OnRead moreIran Election Already Has Likely Right-Wing Winner, But Nuclear Talks Go OnIn order to implement the agreement, Raisi said during a debate last Saturday that"a powerful government" was required, a slight to both Rouhani and Hemmati, the only centrist now left in the race.

Hemmati has sought to increase his standing among moderates and reformists by reportedly welcoming Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javid Zarif as his own top diplomat, but has struggled to garner unanimous support among this increasingly apathetic bloc.

While the JCPOA itself may remain a priority, Rad signaled potential shifts in other areas that might ultimately affect Iran's relationships with the region and beyond. Controversy over Raisi's alleged involvement in human rights violations such as a 1988 massacre of political prisoners, for which he is subject to U.S. sanctions,"may complicate diplomatic efforts wherein the JCPOA becomes the only diplomatic success with the West, rather than a foundation to expand on," Rad said.

"Overall Raisi has been focused on domestic issues," she added,"but on foreign policy we can expect him to have a more hardline approach and tougher rhetoric."Rad also notes it's a matter of whom Raisi selects to join his cabinet, especially as top diplomat, with Zarif having been an institution in Iran's renewed efforts to build international ties under Rouhani. Here too, Raisi sought to expand on his soon-to-be predecessor's efforts.

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"Raisi has signaled support for engagement with all countries and especially neighbors in the region," she said."which would indicate a continuation of recent efforts toward rapprochement with Saudi Arabia."In the foreign policy realm, initiatives begun under Rouhani may actually receive a boost under Raisi. Rouhani's latter days in office saw a widening public rift between his administration and Khamenei, a divide that Javad Heirannia, director of the Persian Gulf Studies at the Center for Scientific Research and Middle East Strategic Studies in Tehran, said would come in contrast to Raisi's positive relationship with the Supreme Leader.

"It should be noted that, given that Ebrahim Raisi is aligned with the Iranian leader and the hard core of power, he will have a more open hand in advancing foreign policy," Heirannia toldNewsweek."Meanwhile, the hard core of power in Iran did its best to prevent the foreign policy of Hassan Rouhani's government from succeeding."

"Even when a nuclear deal was reached, Iran was isolated in practice by missiles tests and attacks on the Saudi embassy by extremists," he added."Trump's withdrawal of the JCPOA and re-imposition of sanctions also strengthened the extremists and conservatives in Iran."

Heirannia ties both of these events to Iran's isolation in the region, but especially the former. The burning down of Riyadh's embassy in Tehran in early 2016 came in response to Saudi Arabia's execution of an influential Shiite Muslim cleric charged with inciting violence, and resulted in the severance of ties between the two Islamic titans.

"The attack on the Saudi embassy was carried out with the aim of completely closing Hassan Rouhani's hand in foreign relations," Heirannia said."Iran could not have been isolated even in the face of sanctions by maintaining ties with its neighbors, or at least by not escalating tensions with neighbors such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia plays a pivotal role in the Islamic world and the Arab world. Therefore, it has the power to influence Islamic and Arab countries. These conditions led to a weakening of Iran's economic situation."

Should Raisi prevail on Friday, improving the economy would be a top priority. The conservative poor have become a key support base for the leading cleric as middle-class reformists have grown disillusioned with both Rouhani and his opponents.But there's another possible motivation, one that suggests Raisi is headed for even higher office than the one he aspires to on Friday.

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"According to the announcement of some presidential candidates, such as Mohsen Mehralizadeh, Ebrahim Raisi is also considered as the successor of the current leader of Iran," Heirannia said."Therefore, he must try to improve the economic situation in order to gain the people's popularity."

Supporters of Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi attend an election campaign rally in the capital Tehran, on June 14.ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty ImagesAbroad, regional stakeholders have so far adopted a mainly wait-and-see approach toward the Iranian contest.

"I'm certainly not in the position to determine or state from here..the legitimacy of Iran's elections, and we certainly won't get ahead of that this Friday," State Department spokesperson Jalina Porter told reporters Tuesday."That's something for the Iranian people to decide for themselves."

She did emphasize, however, that JCPOA talks continue to advance in their sixth round despite lingering differences in vision between Washington and Tehran over how to revitalize the deal."I'll continue to underscore that meaningful process continues to be made on the language necessary to address nuclear and sanctions-related issues," Porter said."But of course, outstanding issues remain on both of them, as well. These meetings, of course, have been productive, but they're ongoing."

Contacted byNewsweek, a State Department spokesperson said the U.S. was"closely following the Iranian Election process.""Our Iran policy is designed to advance U.S. interests, regardless of who is in power," the spokesperson said."We continue to negotiate along with our allies and partners on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action."

In Israel, countering Iran was a core tenet of Netanyahu's administration, which engaged its archfoe in a regionwide contest of operations, some attributed and others subject to the same strategic ambiguity surrounding Israel's own nuclear program. (edited)His successor, Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, has vowed to continue the policy of ensuring Iran did not obtain nuclear weapons, which Iran has officially denied seeking, and has pledged to"preserve full freedom of action" against the country regardless of whether or not Israel's top ally, the U.S., returned to the JCPOA.

Saudi Arabia, for its part, has remained mostly silent on Iran's election, which comes as Riyadh considers rebuilding bridges with Tehran for the first time in five years. The Kingdom, however, appeared to be the subject of a recent thinly veiled insult by Khamenei as foreign outlets critical of the Islamic Republic and with alleged Saudi backing lambasted the election as a farce.

"It is interesting that there are some countries in which the state is run by a tribe in the 21st century, and they have never experienced elections at all," Khamenei said in remarks delivered Wednesday."The people in those countries could not even tell a ballot box from a fruit, but those countries start a 24-hour television station to say that Iran's elections are not democratic."

Amid concerns that the election could prove a slide toward theocracy, Khamenei defended the vote as a demonstration of the country's hybrid democratic framework."In the Islamic Republic, 'Republic' is one part and 'Islamic' is another," Khamenei explained."If the Republic aspect does not exist, the Islamic Republic will not achieve its goal."

Echoing the arguments of reformers, however, Rad warned that"the disqualification process this time around was so egregious it undermines the 'republican' aspect of the Islamic Republic." This she attributed not only to internal deliberations but to external forces as well, especially those associated with the U.S."maximum pressure" approach taken by Trump and still pursued in effect by Biden, as sanctions remain in place until an understanding is finalized on the JCPOA.

"Internal power struggles and politics, as well as corruption, cannot be discounted," Rad said,"but these forces in tandem with external forces and U.S. max pressure have brought us to the current situation."On the eve of elections Thursday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry's messaging was very much in line with that of Khamenei, reiterating the lasting transformative power of elections in the Islamic Republic, which were said to be held not only within the country itself but in every country in which Tehran had diplomatic missions, as well as in Washington and a number of U.S. states.

"Our people across the globe once again exercise their right to shape the future course of their country by electing their next president," spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said."For 42 years, the people's vote has safeguarded our republic. Our people are our power."

Read more: Newsweek »

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No one should be surprised !

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EXPLAINER: Iran vote to determine next president, directionDUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran 's presidential election Friday will determine who will lead the country's civilian government as tensions remain high between the Islamic Republic and the West over its tattered nuclear deal with world powers. No it won’t. That decision had already been made behind closed doors. Please remember this is a terrorist supporting regime, not a democracy. Khamenei runs the country. Don't even pretend and try to make this farce of an election legitimate. Nothing happens in that country without the dictator's say so. As I predicted no mention of Iranians boycotting the election in your piece. Even Ahmadinejad has fans in your fictional world but you can't see at least 70% of Iranians who won't vote.

Iran nuclear deal hangs in balance as Islamic Republic votes Iran 's tattered nuclear deal with world powers hangs in the balance as the country prepares to vote on Friday for a new president. Diplomats are trying to find a way to get both Washington and Tehran to reenter the accord. By jongambrellAP. jongambrellAP Who is guilty of spreading corona virus in this world will the world punish him or not? jongambrellAP The nuclear deal is a fraud as it only compels Iran to nuclear restrictions and not all other nuclear powers including the US UK France and Israeli regimes jongambrellAP Dam, Got the ayatollah masked up.

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