Foreign policy analysts this week expected no other outcome from Iran’s Friday election than a win for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s favoured candidate, Ebrahim Raisi.
There had only been two “reformists” allowed to stand in an election that has been stage-managed by the 82-year-old Supreme Leader, and one – Mohsen Mehralizadeh – dropped out on Wednesday. Others, who had presented more of a challenge to Raisi, were earlier disqualified.
The head of Iran’s judiciary and a hardliner, Raisi is unlikely to make many friends on the world stage, in contrast to the man he replaces – Hassan Rouhani – who reached out to the UK and others to forge an agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear plans.
In the last three years, however, the landscape has changed dramatically, notably by the US withdrawing from the accord, reimposing sanctions, adding new sanctions, and making it harder for European states to work with Iranian businesses.
In addition, Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated, advanced centrifuges have been blown up, and the hugely influential Quds Force commander, General Qasem Suleimani, has been killed. All this has rendered Tehran’s moderates silent.
Israel and Iran are already in a Cold War of sorts, with Iranian military ships recently being scuttled in unattributed attacks in the Persian Gulf. Raisi’s election may lead to renewed Iranian support for proxies in Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria.
Meanwhile, an agreement in which inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency continue monitoring Iranian nuclear sites comes to an end on 24 June.
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