Iran’s President of Concern

On Saturday, Ebrahim Raisi was declared winner of Iran’s presidential election when his rivals conceded even before the official results were announced.

All three of his rivals congratulated him on his victory, which was widely expected after numerous potential opponents were prevented from running for office.

The outgoing president is the relatively moderate Hassan Rouhani, who said:

"I congratulate the people on their choice … we know who got enough votes
in this election and who is elected today by the people.”

Ayatollah Raisi is thought to be a candidate to replace Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, who served as president twice before being elevated to the position of Supreme Leader.

Raisi’s previous run for president in 2017 resulted in failure but this time he had the support of the Supreme Leader and few notable opponents. That was because an election authority, the Guardian Council, barred moderate and conservative candidates from standing in the elections. As a result, the turnout was less than 50 percent of eligible voters.

Raisi’s election comes as Iran is negotiating with six other countries – the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which led to Iran limiting its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

Those negotiations continued on Sunday, in a sixth round of talks as the Biden administration seeks to restore the agreement. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araqchi, said they were “closer than ever” to a deal, but noted that resolving the remaining differences would not be “an easy job.”

The Israelis are extremely concerned, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett saying:

“Of all the people that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could have chosen,
he chose the hangman of Tehran, the man infamous among Iranians and across the world
for leading the death committees which executed thousands of
innocent Iranian citizens throughout the years.”

“Raisi`s election is, I would say, the last chance for the world powers to wake up
before returning to the nuclear agreement, and to understand who they are doing business with.
These guys are murderers - mass murderers.”