Rouhani's Second Term

Photo Source: Time

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Upfront

After Rouhani won his second presidential term in Iran, in May 2017, hardline conservatives have once against targeted him. 

His rivals have accused him of winning on voter fraud.  After taking 58.6 percent of the 40 million vote, core political issues in Iran are once again back in the limelight.

The elections have come at a time when the neighbouring Arab region is in turmoil. Rouhani had mostly targeted the middle-class vote in his campaign and that had resulted to be a right strategy for him.

His election also proves a setback for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, who control vast industrial zones in Iran. They had banked their support to his controversial conservative rival, Ebrahim Raisi, involved in the death of 30,000 political prisoners in the 1988 Iranian massacre.

Rouhani had won because of collective anger in large cities, particularly because of urbanites for anti-Rouhani stance on state-run televised and radio programmes. During the last four years, Rouhani was also in continuous discord with the judiciary, largely influenced by the conservatives and directly controlled by the Supreme Leader.

His critics believe that the 2015 landmark nuclear deal that ended sanctions by his regime, was infact a failure and divided the country. They didn’t want him to reach the western world. Rouhani also has been accused of being a foreign pawn, for corruption and for espionage to list a few.

Thousands of common Iranians face water shortages, pollution problems, unemployment and inflation in present times. In places like Shahriar, a town in Tehran, homeless people beg for food all day and sleep in graveyards in pre prepared graves. It is shocking common Iranians and reflecting the poverty looming the country’s capital.

Rouhani has to make a progressive economic plan to address these problems once for all, at a time when his economic management has come into question. Promises for a $15 billion investment and $3-5 billion for poor and the needy have come forward.

Iran is OPEC’s number 3 oil producer. Rouhani plans to sign deals with oil majors like Russia’s Lukoil and France’s Total very soon. Development of oil fields and increasing production capacity is also in his agenda, which would increase oil sales and improve the economic sectors.

Infact, during his election campaign, he also talked about removal of remaining sanctions and boosting tourism. To add to that, his supporters also believe that talking about the human rights strengthened his voter base.

The Iranian Green Movement started in 2009 collapsed slowly, as their demands of cancellation of Ahmadinejad’s second term weren’t met, but it gave Iran a successor in Rouhani, who had years of accumulated political and economic failures in front of him.

Rouhani has to fix a deal for other problems as well. He has to mediate on competing foreign policy views with the Guardian Council, who overview the democratic institutions in Iran. Till now, he has also been unsuccessful in getting his reformist comrades out of house arrests.

Also, Saudi Arabia has been a hostile country, supported by western powers. They have been deploring the nuclear deal. With the result, Americans supporting Sunni Movement in the Arab region has been slowly isolating Iran in many regional matters.

When shared Saudi-Israeli intelligence has reached an unprecedented high during Trump administration, it will be difficult for Iran to change its regional stance on Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syrian Civil War. On the contrary, Rouhani in the past had been busy negotiating frozen assets for Iranian military disbursals in places like Bahrain, Horn of Africa and elsewhere.

Trump administration had also expressed its interests for talks with Iran in the recent past. It will be interesting to see how dealings with Trump administration will take place, when Americans believe that Iran supports regional instability and sectarian divide in the region. Many analysts believe that resolution of Syrian Civil War through diplomacy may ameliorate Iranian- Arab relations, but its realisation seems out of sight right now.

There has been an outpour of debate on media machines relating to whether it is right to brand Rouhani as a moderate. Executions and tortures have happened in Iranian prisons right after the election. In reality, he is allowing IRGC and Quds Force to expand their interests in places like Syria, Iraq and Yemen. He had also been part of 1979 revolution that called for public executions.

In his tenure, about 3000 people have been already sent to gallows. Many view his military and intelligence background controversial and implicate him as a suppressor of Iranian civil liberties. As a secretary of SNSC in his past, he was responsible for closing several newspapers, satellite dishes and quelling protests.

In the streets of Tehran, graffiti’s describe Rouhani as a “demagogue” and “king of executions”. These occurrences in the country have put his political leanings into question.


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