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What can the world expect from Iran’s new president? — RT World News

Political analysts discuss with RT how the election of President Masoud Pezeshkian will impact the Islamic Republic, the region and the world.

Last week, it became clear that Iran’s conservative shift, which saw Ebrahim Raisi take power in August 2021, was over. Following the president’s tragic death in a helicopter crash in May, the sole candidate of the reformist coalition won a snap election.

Iranians voted in the first round of the presidential race in late June, but no winner was determined, forcing a runoff. On July 5, Iranians elected moderate Masoud Pezeshkian with 53.6 percent of the vote. The 69-year-old heart surgeon is expected to resign from his current position as a member of Iran’s parliament in late July ahead of his inauguration in August.

Much is expected of a man who has pledged to unite a deeply divided nation, solve Iran’s economic problems, ease tensions with the West over the Islamic Republic’s pursuit of nuclear energy, and improve relations with regional and international players. But given the events that have affected Iran in recent years and the mounting international pressure, will a Pezeshkian presidency be as liberal as that of Hassan Rouhani, who has served for eight years since 2013?

To understand the new president's chances of achieving these goals, RT spoke to a number of political analysts, and this is what they think about what the future may hold for Iran.

Disruption or harmony?

RT: The first round of elections saw the lowest turnout since the founding of the Islamic Republic, leading some to say that this was an indication that the Iranian people lacked trust in the regime. How likely is it that Pezeshkian can rebuild that trust?

Dr. Towhid Asadi, Assistant Professor at the UniversityUniversity of Tehran: Many observers from a large segment of the Iranian political establishment who discussed the election in Iran considered Dr. Saeed Jalili the favorite. They perceived him as a trump card in the runoff. However, the final decision on the next Iranian president was determined by the collective will of the electorate expressed at the ballot box. This is called democracy. In the runoff, turnout increased by about 10 percent, and with Dr. Pezeshkian’s election victory, people became more optimistic about their role in shaping the destiny of their country. He is expected to focus on strengthening national unity.

RT: Mr. Pezeshkian is leading a country that is under massive international sanctions that have impacted the country’s economy. How likely is he to succeed in countering these sanctions?

My lionDr. Bezeshkian and his team have the potential to lead talks with the West to resolve the issues. However, it remains to be seen whether the West, and the United States in particular, will be wise enough to seize this opportunity. In addition, it will be important to prioritize self-sufficiency while at the same time broadening the scope of foreign policy to include better trade relations with the Global South, regional players, Russia, China, and emerging markets.

RT: Mr. Pezeshkian has already announced that he will resume talks with the United States on its nuclear program. How realistic is his desire to do so given the objections raised by some elements inside?

My lionAs for its nuclear program, Iran has never closed the door to negotiations and has fulfilled all its obligations under the agreement signed in 2015. At present, there is a clear atmosphere of mistrust towards the United States among all political elites in Iran, especially after the Trump administration decided to unilaterally withdraw from the agreement. The possibility of resuming negotiations depends more on the behavior of the Americans, than any other factor at home.

The Israeli Question

RT: In his victory speech, Mr. Pezeshkian said he looked forward to friendly relations with all countries. What does that mean for the United States and perhaps Israel?

My lionLike any other country, Iranian foreign policy is shaped within a highly complex dynamic where many actors and factors work to advance national interests. Under Dr. Pezeshkian’s presidency, one might expect a new and comprehensive tone in Iranian foreign policy based on openness to diplomatic engagement with countries around the world, based on their behavior and goodwill. However, Dr. Pezeshkian’s position will remain consistent with Iran’s longstanding position of non-recognition and opposition to a regime that brutally murders civilians on a daily basis.

RT: We hear that Mr. Pezeshkian's position on Israel will remain the same. If so, is Iran on the brink of a full-scale war with Israel?

Mukhaimer Abu Saada, Associate Professor of Political Science at Al-Azhar University, currently residing in CairoIn Iran, matters of peace and war are not in the hands of presidents. Rather, these issues are decided by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and ultimately, I doubt he is interested in a war with Israel, which could escalate further.

What is more dangerous is that Iran, from what it has gathered, is not prepared to see any of its regional allies in an open confrontation with Israel, simply because Iran does not want to see its partners suffer the suffering caused by Western sanctions and the deterioration of daily life that it has witnessed.

I would like to remind you of the escalation that took place between Israel and Iran in mid-April. Despite the confrontation that took place between the two countries, there are many indications that the Iranians informed the United States of their retaliation against Israel before it actually happened, because they wanted to make sure that Washington would not interpret this retaliation as a declaration of war against Israel.

Similarly, the confrontation between Hezbollah and Israel is not a war. It is a very calculated escalation, and neither side wants a full-blown conflict. All Hezbollah is trying to do is distract Israel in the north and ease the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza. Of course, this does not mean that mistakes – on either side – cannot happen. If they do, it could drag the region into war. But neither side wants that, and the Americans – with the help of their mediator Amos Hochstein – are also trying to defuse tensions.

RT: What about the Palestinians: Will we see more support for their cause under Mr. Pezeshkian’s presidency?

OffendedAs I said before, any president in Iran, whether reformist or conservative, will not have much influence on the Palestinian issue, because the support for the Palestinian resistance, especially Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, comes from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, not from the government. This is what I know, and this has been happening for many years.

It is the Revolutionary Guards that provide military support, financial assistance and training to these Palestinian factions. So these issues are not relevant to the president. Pezeshkian will focus more on Iran’s internal issues, such as improving the country’s economy or foreign relations, especially with the West, which has been unhappy with Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Persians and Arabs

RT: Besides the West, Iran also needs to continue improving its relations with regional players, especially Saudi Arabia, with which its relations have seen many ups and downs. How likely is it that Mr. Pezeshkian will succeed in achieving this?

Khaled Batarfi, Professor at Faisal University, Saudi Arabia:

In Iran, real power lies with Imam Ali Khamenei and no one else. He chooses who runs for president and who is elected. He controls all sources of power. He makes decisions on all national and security issues.

He was the one who supported the idea of ​​improving relations with Saudi Arabia, and he was the one who stood behind the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. He is the ultimate source of power, and it does not matter whether the president is moderate or conservative. For example, Raisi was a right-winger and yet he was the one who made peace with Riyadh.

So I think the path that Raisi started will continue. Iran will seek to strengthen its relationship with Saudi Arabia, and it will try to change the course of the conflicts with the West and Israel. We can already see the beginnings of solutions, whether with Hamas and Israel moving toward a possible agreement, or with Hezbollah and the Houthis who are now announcing that they will lay down their arms if the conflict in Gaza stops.

So I am optimistic about the near future. I believe that all issues will be resolved not by the new president in Iran, but by the Supreme Leader of the country who decided that.


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