Iran’s new president takes over amid stalled nuclear talks

Ebrahim Raisi, em uma entrevista coletiva, no dia 21 de junho, após sua vitória
Ibrahim Raisi, at a press conference after his election victory on June 21
Photo: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Ibrahim Raisi was sworn in as Iran’s new president on Thursday (5), marking the beginning of a new era of radicalism that could usher in major changes in the Islamic republic’s domestic and foreign policies.

After eight years of Hassan Rouhani’s moderate rule, Iran now turns to Raisi, an ultra-conservative head of the judiciary whose views are entirely in line with the thinking of the country’s powerful clergy and supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is all over the world. is the last word. main affairs of the state.

Raisi’s inauguration comes at a crucial time, with Iran’s ongoing indirect talks with the United States on how to reactivate the 2015 nuclear deal. Raisi will also face the task of reviving the country’s economy, which has been hampered by the campaign in recent years. “maximum pressure from the previous US government” sanctions. Tensions are also high in the region after a series of maritime provocations attributed to Tehran by the West.

“I take an oath to defend the official religion and establishment of the Islamic Republic and the nation’s constitution,” Raisi said while taking oath in parliament on Thursday. During the ceremony, tributes were paid to top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in an assassination ordered by former US President Donald Trump.

After his swearing-in ceremony, Raisi called for the lifting of US sanctions, saying his government would “support any diplomatic plan that achieves that goal.”

Raisi also said that the purpose behind his country’s nuclear program was “peaceful” and that Iran “rejects the use of nuclear energy except for civilian purposes”.

Those attending the ceremony included Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Iraqi President Barham Salih and EU Deputy Secretary-General for Foreign Action Enrique Mora, according to state media. Hamas leader Ismail Haniya and Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Naeem Qasim were also present along with Kuwait’s top diplomat and Qatar’s trade and trade minister.

In another ceremony earlier this week, the Supreme Leader praised the new administration as Rouhani sat silently and watched.

In a speech on Monday, Khamenei said, “In the transfer of power, new ideas and new resolves emerge, and this is a source of hope for all those who are highly motivated to serve the country, especially the youth.” in the people.” ) on the controversial June elections that brought Raisi to power. After an unelected panel of clerics and lawyers barred all major reformist and centrist candidates from running, the turnout was historically marked by low turnout and criticized as uncompetitive, almost guaranteeing Raisey’s victory.

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Raisi immediately made it clear that he was on the same page as the Supreme Leader. The new president also has a sizable majority in parliament, which would allow him to quickly pass legislation that could lead to major changes in Iran’s domestic and foreign policies.

Ali Khamenei at an advertising ceremony to give Raisi his official seal on August 3
Photo: Office of the Supreme Iranian Leader / AP

Fouad Izadi, an associate professor at the university, said, “You have unity within the three branches of government and it reduces internal conflict, it reduces disagreement and it will be important for him not to worry about internal competition.” It will be important to him.” of Tehran.

The most fundamental change could come in Iran’s economic policy. While Rouhani was keen to open up Iran to foreign investment and attract Western companies, Raisi subscribes to the notion of an “economy of resistance”, a model that Iranian radicals are promoting. First. The goal is to make Iran’s economy independent of external forces, so that it can better deal with the effects of international sanctions while trying to boost the country’s industries.

While Rouhani and millions of Iranians hoped that the landmark 2015 nuclear deal (known as the JCPOA) would benefit foreign investment, the Trump government’s exit from the deal and disclosure of “maximum pressure” buoyed those hopes. It was razed, which imposed more stringent sanctions on Iran than ever before, which are still hurting the economy.

Researcher Syed Mustafa Kosham, a political analyst in Tehran, says Rouhani’s confidence in improving relations with the West may have been his biggest mistake, even after the Trump government launched a campaign of maximum pressure.

Rouhani marginalized relations with other countries. His focus was the removal of the JCPOA, the nuclear deal, and sanctions. Many Iranians who voted for Raisi believe that Rouhani will seek Iran’s effort for a comfortable settlement with the United States. Were compromising on foreign policy and not being careful enough of relations with other countries like China, Russia, Latin America and Africa”, he affirmed.

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Negotiations continue to bring the United States back to the nuclear deal and Iran back into full compliance after Tehran responded to Trump’s sanctions by significantly increasing the supply and purity of enriched uranium in recent years. While both sides say they want to reach an agreement, talks have stalled recently.

Raisi, like the Supreme Leader and most fanatics, is not a fan of the JCPOA. He said in a speech after receiving his presidential certificate that he was willing to end the sanctions, but that he would not return to the agreement at all costs.

“We will certainly try to abolish and suspend the tyrannical sanctions,” Raisi said, but “we will not condition the livelihood of the people, we will not bind everything to foreigners. We will certainly seek those issues.” which are urgent for us as we are facing today.”

Despite Raisi’s plans for a more self-sufficient economy, lifting at least some sanctions against Iran will be crucial as the new government faces a struggling economy, high unemployment and a currency that is almost in free fall. , leading to a significant increase. consumer prices.

In addition, Raisi must also find a solution to the country’s water shortage, especially in southwestern Iran, which has already led to violent protests with many people dead.

Iran’s supreme leader said he understood those protesting water scarcity and urged the government to act. Raisi says he has got the message and wants to tackle the problem, which will require large investments in local infrastructure.

Earlier this week Raisi said, “These issues have been addressed and I assure people that the solution has been worked out, we benefit from the opinion of experts and academics and it will be addressed immediately.” “

Iran’s tough stance on foreign policy may become even more apparent. A major regional power with wide-ranging influence in the greater Middle East, Iran’s foreign policy would be “active and dynamic”, Raisi promised.

The Rouhani government, particularly Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, had somewhat strained relations with Iran’s powerful military and the influential Revolutionary Guard Quds Force responsible for foreign operations in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. With the new president, this division does not exist.

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Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Adviser and possibly the next Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said CNN In a recent interview that Iran is not planning to restrict its foreign policy.

Amir-Abdolhyan said Iran would have “a balanced foreign policy towards all countries – with a speech that is logical as well as strong, a speech that will be able to guarantee Iranian rights on all fronts.”

This could lead to major standoffs with the United States. The Biden government has said it wants Iran to negotiate the ballistic missile program and the country’s “behavior” in the Middle East. Tehran also dropped the idea of ​​direct talks with Washington. Asked if he would speak to President Biden at his first press conference since his election, Raisey simply said, “No!”

But while tensions between Iran and the United States could escalate, other conflicts could be eased, at least to some extent. Iran recently held talks with its main regional rival, Saudi Arabia, in an effort to end a long standoff that has contributed to instability in large parts of the Middle East. Political analyst Mustafa Khosham says he believes the captive with Riyadh is key to Iran’s political and economic agenda.

On Wednesday, Raisi said Iran’s regional presence “creates security” and that he would extend a hand of “friendship and brotherhood” to neighboring countries.

“Our power in the region creates security, our regional capabilities support stability and peace in many countries and will only be used to fight hegemonic powers,” he said.

In his first press conference as president-elect, Raisi said he hoped to reopen the embassies of Iran and Saudi Arabia in Riyadh and Tehran. Relations between the two countries have been frozen since 2016.

“Raasi’s ultimate goal is the economy,” Khoshchesham said. “One of its means is foreign trade and when we talk about foreign trade it means recession, it means distance with Saudi Arabia and it means dealing with other countries. In the first press conference he received a warm welcome in Saudi Arabia.”

CNN’s Mustafa Salem contributed to this report from Abu Dhabi

Translated text, read in native english.

About the author: Sarah Gracie

Sarahis a reporter covering Amazon. She previously covered tech and transportation, and she broke stories on Uber's finances, self-driving car program, and cultural crisis. Before that, she covered cybersecurity in finance. Sarah's work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Politico, and the Houston Chronicle.

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