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The Turning Point Of The Century?

Sayyid Ebrahim Raisol-Sadati, commonly known as Ebrahim Raisi, has recently been elected as the President of Iran. The 60-year-old Raisi – a Conservative and Principlist Politician, and a Jurist – is quite (un)popular as a hardliner and an extremist! When the results of 2021 Iranian Presidential Election was declared on June 19, it was found that Raisi secured 62% of the votes. Later, he received charges from outgoing President Hassan Rouhani. Raisi has become the President at a time, when the Islamic Republic is going through various crises… those are related to international diplomacy, internal tensions and mass movements.

Raisi always wears a black turban, as he claims himself to be a descendant of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the founder of Islam. He has been associated with the Iranian Politics for many years. Raisi had also contested the 2017 Presidential Election, but lost to Rouhani. Interestingly, the lowest number of candidates contested the Presidential Election in 2021… still, Raisi won the poll by a huge margin. He is also known to be close to former Supreme Iranian Religious Leader Sayyid Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, known in the Western world as Ayatollah Khomeini (September 24, 1902 – June 3, 1989).

Ebrahim Raisi

Raisi is said to be having a controversial character, too. He was a member of the four-member Special Commission set up under Khomeini’s direction after the 1989 Iran-Iraq War. He had allegedly played an important role in the assassination of Opposition politicians and also in the genocide across the West Asian country. At that period of time, the Commission was referred to as the Messenger of Death! He was responsible for sentencing thousands of political dissidents to death in the late 1980s during his term as Tehran’s General Prosecutor, followed by other notorious actions in the late 1990s and early 2000s when under his watch as the Chief of Iran’s Anti-Corruption Authority, several reformist groups considered close to former President Khatami were imprisoned. His name was also included in the list of Iranian officials on whom sanctions were imposed by the US Treasury Department in 2019. Hence, diplomats believe that Iran’s relations with the US could deteriorate further during Raisi’s tenure as the President. The President-elect has already announced that he would not meet US President Joe Biden.

According to political experts, the Islamic Republic might become more Islamic and less Republic after Raisi’s victory in June 18 Presidential Election. In Iran, the political struggles between the President and the Supreme Religious Leader were regular, as far as the presidential position was occupied by a reformist, such as Mohammad Khatami between 1997-2005 and Hassan Rouhani between 2013-21. It may be noted that former President Rouhani was one of the key architects of the 2015 Nuclear Deal which saw Iran consent to limiting its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief. Then US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the deal in May 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on Iran.

The President’s Office, an element of the Iranian Republican nature that balances the Islamic spectrum of an organisational system that ends with the position of Supreme Leader, has exactly the role of keeping the State on the line once drawn by its founder and first Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini, both Republic and Islamic. With the Conservative’s seizure of the institution represented by the President, Iran will perhaps become more Islamic than ever.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (L) with Raisi (R)

Elected the 8th President of Iran, Raisi might be different from his politician-type predecessors, as he is more of a Bureaucrat than a Politician. He served as Iran’s Attorney General before being appointed Chief Justice in 2019. Raisi’s ambitions could be much higher than his position as President. For many years, Raisi has been seen as Khamenei’s successor, given the old age and health problems of the current Iranian Supreme Leader. If this scenario takes shape, the Presidency would be only a launching pad for Raisi to gain the necessary influence among the Committee responsible for the succession and ensure the preservation of a system left as a legacy from Khamenei.

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