New Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will assume power this week at a time of enormous challenges for the Islamic republic, shaken by recent protests over water and electricity shortages and ready for further discussions on the resumption of its nuclear deal with and world powers.
Raisi, a 60-year veteran of tough politics and disputed as the successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, secured victory in June over the lowest turnout in all presidential elections since the 1979 theocratic revolution and only after preventing his most serious rivals from the race.
After the election, he acknowledged that “public trust has been exploited” in the country’s political elite, although he suggested that outgoing centrist president Hassan Rouhani was to blame for this disillusionment. Rouhani signed the 2015 nuclear deal with the United States and other major powers, only for current U.S. President Donald Trump to abandon it in 2018 and sanctions to be replaced.
This declining trust could be “repaired,” Raisi said, concentrating on the front of the house instead of seeking foreign assistance. “Reform of the current situation is possible,” he said.
However, the new president could immediately find himself facing a new international row after Israel on Sunday accused Tehran of participating in Thursday night’s suspects. drone attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman, in which two crew members were killed. The building, Mercer Street, is linked to an Israeli billionaire. Iran has denied participation.
And with Iran in the grip of the worst drought in decades and the lack of power hitting an already devastated economy ravaged by inflation, sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic, analysts are skeptical that rapid change is possible. . Only 3 percent of Iranians have been completely vaccinated against Covid-19.
“The country is in a very tense situation and Raisi has to make very fast and serious decisions on urgent issues like inflation and vaccination to present a winning card and gain time until a big decision is made on the nuclear deal and the sanctions, ”he said. Saeed Laylaz, analyst.
“But we haven’t even seen any initiative from Raisi since his victory to suggest he’ll be able to put anything in the ball during his first 100 days.”
One of its biggest challenges will not be in Iran, but in Vienna, where discussions over the nuclear deal are resumed when the Raisi government takes office. Tehran is in negotiations with world powers, with the United States indirectly involved.
Raisi has made it clear that he wants to improve relations with neighbors, rather than the Western world. “To help establish lasting security and regional stability, the solution is cooperation between regional states based on mutual trust and not allowing interference from foreigners. [western] forces in the region, ”he said.
Hardliners have so far refused to make promises about the outcome of the negotiations, preferring instead to focus on national priorities. One of these politicians, Hamid-Reza Taraghi, listed the new government’s top priorities as curbing inflation by 44.2 per cent, removing barriers to national industrial production, tackling water scarcity and electricity and addressing the budget deficit.
But reformist analysts are wondering how Raisi can do this while sanctions banning oil exports and other business deals remain in place. Taraghi said the government had to find ways to “exploit the sanctions”, indicating that an agreement could not be reached.
One of Raisi’s most immediate challenges is to calm tensions in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, home to Iran’s largest oil and gas reserves.
Recent protests have been driven by demand for water supply for agricultural land and livestock. Raisi, allegedly part of a committee that executed thousands of political dissidents in the 1980s, was not targeted by protesters.
However, protesters chanted anti-regime slogans, such as “He is the dictator” and “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon; my life for Iran.” A regime that brought to power through street protests has typically repressed demonstrations. Amnesty International has said at least eight people have been killed in Khuzestan so far. Officers confirmed three civilian deaths and one police officer. There have also been protests of solidarity in the northwestern city of Tabriz, and protests over the lack of electricity in Tehran.
The regime has tried to increase water supply in Khuzestan and Raisi has promised not to “wait even a day” to tackle the problems there. He said part of the “massive wealth” in that region had to be spent on its own development. He also talked about the economic pressures that many people are under, promising to help build at least 1m of new homes a year. “Today, not only the purchase of houses but renting in big cities or even in small towns has become an inaccessible dream for people,” he said in July.
For now, the Islamic republic is determined to demonstrate stability through a peaceful transition of power. Raisi met with outgoing cabinet members individually and approached a wide range of politicians, including former political prisoners, on how to manage the country. Some of those arrested during the 2019 riots, which allegedly caused hundreds of deaths, are destined to be released, activists say.
Raisi will also have to contend with divisions in the hard line field. The more radical members do not want him to bow to the public demands for more social and political freedom. Parliament has ratified a plan that could regulate social networks and limit public access to the Internet.
The Iranians want to see if he can deliver on his promises. “Raisi will spend 1% of Khuzestan’s wealth on the province itself. This is not too much to demand and we will hold him responsible even if we lose hope in any change under this regime,” a protester said in the statement. province he asked not to be called.
The Khuzestan protester added: “I am 25 years old, I have a degree in electronic engineering but I have no job, no income or future. People barefoot would not be afraid to die if their choice was between starvation or starvation. they are killed by bullets. “