By Agha Iqrar Haroon
The probabilities of sitting Chief Justice of Iran Ebrahim Raisi to become the next President of Iran are beyond any iota of doubt now.
Iran is going for Presidential Election on June 18, 2021. The tenure of the President of Iran is four years. Election Monitoring Agency (EMA) that works directly under the command of “Guardian Council” approves the name of candidates for Presidential Election.
Ebrahim Raisi is known for his hardline stance against the United States, the European Union, and some of the GCC members. His name is in the lists of EU and United States of “under sanctioned personalities”.
The rise of Hardliners in Iran is linked with certain geopolitical developments. The US unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, imposition of new sanctions from EU countries on Iran, large-scale protests allegedly sponsored by the western world in an attempt to regime change, and murder of General Qassem Soleimani are some of the events that help Iranian Hardliners to gain their moral position against moderate voices.
The official list of “Approved Presidential Candidates” issued on May 25, 2021, by the Guardian Council disapproved the candidacy of some known and potential candidates including former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Eshaq Jahangiri, current First Vice President (since 2013), Ali Larijani, former Speaker of the Parliament and Mohammed Sharif Malekzadeh, former Vice President of Iran
Now Ebrahim Raisi who is backed by Supreme Leader will contest against Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh, current Member of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, Abdolnaser Hemmati, current Governor of the Central Bank, Saeed Jalili, former Secretary of Supreme National Security Council, Mohsen Mehralizadeh, former Governor of Isfahan and Mohsen Rezaee, former Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
It is worth mentioning that Ebrahim Raisi is one of nine Iranian officials listed in November 2019 subjected to sanctions by the United States Department of State and he is also under the sanction list of the European Union (EU). One can foresee the reaction of western media and governments when Ebrahim Raeisi would emerge as successful. Of course, western media would call forthcoming elections “rigged and forged” while NATO allies would reject election results.
This is the second time Ebrahim Raeisi is contesting Presidential Election. He lost the 2017 Presidential Election against sitting President Rouhani although Ebrahim Raisi was a favorite candidate of Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He bagged 15,835,794 out of 42,382,390 (38.30% of the votes) while Rouhani got 23,636,652 (57.14%) votes. It was the first time in post-revolution history that the defeated candidate did not congratulate the winning candidate; indicating his unpleasant relationship with President Hassan Rouhani.
Ebrahim Raisi was appointed as Chief Justice of Iran by Guardian Council on 7 March 2019 by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Born on December 14, 1960, in Mashhad district, Ebrahim Raisi did his Ph.D. in “jurisprudence and fundamentals of Islamic law” from Shahid Motahari University. Since his early education is from religious schools like Qom Seminary, Ayatollah Sayyed Muhammad Mousavi Nezhad school, and Ayatollah Borujerdi school, western media will have ample opportunity of tagging him a “radical Islamist”.
Iran had been trying to neutralize its relations with the Western world under the former student of Glasgow Caledonian University, Hassan Rouhani but could not come out of sanctions. The Iranian policy of looking at China had a breakthrough and China – Iran has strategic cooperation before the end of Rouhani’s tenure. The new president of Iran will have a superior economic situation than Rouhani had as a starter.
Western media and NATO allied Think Tanks indicate that Iran is getting back in the lap of Hardliners and situation new President would difficult for Iran to deal issues like Nuclear deal and sanctions. The situation is not unaccepted as hardliners had been successful to sell their viewpoint that western countries would never accept Iran as reliable even moderates are running the country. Hardliners believe that the West has no problem with the Iranian system rather with the existence of Iran as an independent sovereign Muslim State. The unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the Nuclear Deal and the hostile behavior of NATO allies towards Iran helped Hardliners to gain the support of other parliamentarians and even the majority of the population considered that Hardliners had a valid point. Moreover, large-scale protests that according to Hardliners; were sponsored by the West for regime change also went against Moderates.
82-year-old Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei had no high hopes with P-5 plus One Nuclear deal and had been saying that Iran cannot trust the western world. His viewpoint came true when the United States unilaterally ended the deal. Moreover, the murder of General Qassem Soleimani by the US strike also made Rouhani’s position weaker that helped Hardliners to justify their 40-year-old narrative that the US cannot be trusted.
On January 17, 2020, Hosseini Khamenei during his Friday speech categorically said that “European Union should also not be trusted because of their track record and their support for Saddam during the Iran-Iraq War”.
The Forthcoming 2021 Iranian Presidential Election is not just elections for Iranian people and the west rather a turning point for Iran-West relations because expected new President Raisi does have a moderate viewpoint about Iranian relations with Saudi Arabia, UAE, EU, and the United States. The new President will take charge with better economic conditions at home due to the Chinese presence in the Iranian economy and would not care about further sanctions and existing sanctions because he is himself under EU and US sanctions.
The Geopolitical and Foreign Affairs analyst Shazia Anwer Cheema is her article “China-Iran Strategic Partnership Agreement and New Regional Order”, says Iran China’s strategic partnership not only promised to invest 4 billion US dollars in Middle Eastern oil and gas resources rather it will work to counter US dominance in the region.
She is of the view that Iran believes that the military presence of the United States in West Asia is the root cause of regional instability and collective efforts by regional parties are needed to ensure regional security.
“Now China is standing in Hormuz and the United States and its Middle Eastern allies will not in a position to take unilateral decisions in the future about this sensitive and strategically important location,” Shazia Cheema commented.
The regional scene would become interesting when Raisi would head Iran as President and the US would in the withdrawal phase from Afghanistan and China entering the Iranian waters as a most trusted ally.
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.