Without a doubt, Ebrahim Raisi was installed as president due to his impeccable record of hardline positions and loyally backing the regime. Now that Raisi has obtained the highest level of official power, the regime’s strategy of waging war against its citizens and aggression against the world is very clearly taking shape. Writes Zana Ghorbani
As Iran’s Poor Struggle, Ebrahim Raisi Encourages Corruption and Terrorism
During the entire election season, it was clear Raisi was the preferred candidate of the Ayatollah establishment. After serving for four decades in the Iranian government, Raisi had become the single biggest regime insider in the country. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei took unusual steps to ensure Raisi’s victory, even disqualifying the vast majority of the candidate’s competition weeks before the polls opened.
In Europe, leaders appeared dissatisfied with Raisi’s win. In Germany, for instance, Olaf Scholz, Germany’s Finance Minister, highlighted that the nuclear talks were about to become more difficult. While others, like Emmanuel Macron, President of France, remained quiet on the matter so as not to poke the bear. In a press briefing on 26th of August, Peter Stano, the lead spokesperson for the external affairs of the EU, stated “the European Union is ready to engage with the new government in line with the EU’s policy towards Iran, meaning that where there are areas of concern, the EU will be critical and cooperative where we see mutual benefits”.
Most European countries are wary of Raisi’s track record of human rights abuses, hence their reluctance to congratulate the new president.
The conspiracy to have Raisi become president is clearly indicative of the regime’s agenda. Raisi has long been a reliable servant of the Revolution, using the arm of the state to repress and brutalize all government opposition. Raisi’s first decade in government service was spent as a state attorney in various cities and regions throughout Iran, focusing heavily on prosecuting political dissidents and anti-government activists. This period culminated in Raisi’s most well-known atrocity, his participation in the 1988 Massacre in which thousands of political prisoners were executed over several weeks. Raisi, at the time only 28 years old, sat on the four-man committee that handed out the death sentences.
Without a doubt, Raisi was installed as president due to his impeccable record of hardline positions and loyally backing the regime. Now that Raisi has obtained the highest level of official power, the regime’s strategy of waging war against its citizens and aggression against the world is very clearly taking shape.
The Iran that Raisi has taken leadership of is a country in a state of total calamity.
Years of failed management exacerbated by international sanctions have left the country in near economic ruin. The country’s currency has lost over half its value over the past two and a half years. Unemployment is at staggering highs as government sources scramble to conceal the true numbers from the public. Today, half of the country lives under the poverty line. Government corruption has become so rampant and commonplace that elected officials now speak about it openly. Even Raisi himself gave recognition to the problem while running for president. The dysfunctional nature in every facet of Iranian governance has been further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Inept public health policies have resulted in one of the worst corona hotspots in the world, with more than 300,000 Iranian’s having already succumbed to the virus. Many observers have been speculating on the new president’s plan to rehabilitate his deeply troubled country.
But truth be told, helping his countrymen is simply not Raisi’s top priority. Furthering the regime’s expansionist and radical agenda is.
The biggest indicators of what Raisi has in store are his recent cabinet picks.
One week after he assumed office, Raisi introduced his preferred cabinet ministers to the Parliament for approval. The list includes some of the most extreme–and in fact corrupt–officials ever to serve in Iranian government. The roster included for instance Massoud Mirkazemi as the chairman for the Planning and Budget Organization. Mirkazemi is a former Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officer who was implicated in a major corruption case back in 2016. Raisi’s new Minister of the Interior is IRGC General Ahmad Vahidi, one of the founders of the Ministry of Intelligence and a former commander of the paramilitary Qods Force used for Iran’s regional expansionist projects. To this day, Vahidi remains an international fugitive for his involvement in the 1994 bombing of Argentine-Jewish Mutual Association in Buenos Aires.
While Raisi is busy forming his ‘terror government’ the poor of Iran remain neglected and forgotten. It is a cruel irony that Raisi, who has carefully developed a persona of an austere cleric, ran on a platform of championing the poor. But as the poverty stricken citizens of Iran languish, Raisi and his hentchmen enjoy the generous salaries and other benefits that come with government service. Raisi has even neglected to call on many of Iran’s emergency resources established to assist in times of social crisis. Raisi himself manages billions in charitable assets, held in a foundation which he runs.
There are serious implications of Raisi’s ascent to power, not just for Iranians, but for the global community as well. Ever since the Trump administration unilaterally pulled out from the international nuclear agreement, the Islamic Republic has been a major focus for many world leaders. The powers of Europe, and now the United States, have been hard at work trying to formulate a renewed deal that can placate the Iranians. Raisi and his hardline faction are also in favor of a deal. Their overwhelming reason is to relieve their country from the dreaded sanctions that have crippled the state and the population.
But in light of Raisi’s actions as head of state–not to mention his past record–world leaders must tread carefully when approaching Iran’s leaders. The intentions of Tehran to perpetuate repression within and militantism without have been made clear. The world must not lend a hand to this agenda.
Zana Ghorbani, a contributor to Blitz is a Middle East analyst and researcher specializing in Iranian affairs.
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