Tuesday, July 5

What does the victory of the toughest sector of the regime in Iran mean

Iran is one of the clearest examples in which it is not necessary to wait for the official results of the presidential elections to be able to make an analysis of what happened and what to expect immediately. This is so because although the electoral day, like the one on June 18, unfolds in a clean way, normally the real election has already taken place much earlier and does not depend on the citizen vote.

In essence, it is the Council of Guardians – a body made up of 12 people (six Alfaquíes, experts in Islamic jurisdiction, appointed by Ali Khamenei and six other jurists appointed by the judiciary) – that determines who can participate in the elections, taking care to ensure that only those who do not question the regime established by Khomeini in 1979 can do so.

That is why it has been known for a long time that Ibrahim Raisi, until recently head of the Iranian judiciary and protégé of Khamenei, was going to be the thirteenth president of the republic. The only thing that remained to be known was the percentage of votes obtained (62%) and, above all, that of blank and invalid votes (14%, for the first time exceeding that of the second candidate) and the level of abstention (48.8 %, the highest ever).

Not surprisingly, the aforementioned Council had already eliminated 585 aspiring candidates, including populist figures, such as former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or the former president of the reformist parliament Ali Larijani. If to that we add that of the seven who finally passed the filter (all men), three withdrew and only Abdolnaser Hemmati, a technocrat ex-governor of the Central Bank, remained as the only representative of the moderate reformists, it is even better understood than expected cause little tension.

With the victory of the 60-year-old Raisi, the circle drawn by the hardest sectors of the regime – the principalists – is thus closed so that all the significant levers of power remain in their hands, including the Parliament, the judiciary, the forces armed forces and the powerful Guardian Corps of the Islamic Revolution of Iran (the Pasdaran), classified as a terrorist organization by the United States.

It is undoubtedly bad news, especially for Iranians who aspire to a higher level of well-being and more rights, but also for the development and stability of the Middle East.

The influence of Trump’s decisions

And it should not be forgotten that one of the most responsible for this has happened is not the Iranian voter and not even the Guardian Council, but the United States. More specifically: Donald Trump. It was he who ruined any option for the reformers and moderates, led by President Hasan Rohani, by pulling out of the June 2015 nuclear agreement in May 2018. The signing of that agreement was the main argument that Rohani could use to gather the support of the population, trusting that it would mean an immediate relief from the strategy of harassment and demolition that Washington practiced until then and, therefore, a notable improvement in the living conditions for its more than 80 million inhabitants.

Trump’s breach of the agreement and the inability of the European Union to remain bound to it (only China has shown itself willing to distance itself from the new sanctions imposed by Trump) has ended up giving the conservatives even more options to drag much of the population in their favor, leaving Rohani and his allies weak and unable to translate their promises back then into action. As a result of all this, Iran is now closer to crossing the nuclear threshold and the most traditionalist and retrograde positions have been reinforced both in the national agenda and in foreign action.

The future of the regime

From here, Raisi, who also dreams of succeeding Khamenei as supreme leader of the revolution, will surely try to further strengthen the controls of social and political life in an attempt to curb citizen discontent (derived both from the crisis corruption and the impact of COVID-19). Given that the siege and punishment from the outside can only be expected to continue – with subsequent daily hardships for citizens – the most likely forecast is more repression to curb growing citizen dissatisfaction and more difficulties for reformists.

In the external arena, Iran will continue its rapprochement with China, if only because others will continue to close their doors to it. Likewise, it is foreseeable that it will continue to meddle in the affairs of its neighbors, both to maintain its options for achieving regional leadership and to have retaliatory tricks against those seeking its collapse, with Israel and the United States at the fore.

Finally, it can be assumed that it will be possible to achieve some positive result in the talks that continue to develop in Geneva, since Khamenei has given his blessings to the attempt to alleviate a punishment that also affects his figure and the regime in the face of a population fed up with promises. unfulfilled.

But from there it cannot be deduced that Raisi is going to pilot a broader opening towards the West, renouncing his missile program (independent of the nuclear program and to which Iran has the right like any other state on the planet) or interference in the affairs of its neighbors . In fact, the president-elect has affirmed this Monday in his first press conference that he is not willing to negotiate on the missile program or on his support for armed groups in the region. And so on until the next crisis.