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PostHassan Rohani, the New President of Iran (Massoud Malek, USA, 08/19/13 5:11 am)
(A note on spelling: in Farsi, we say Rohani and not Rouhani.)
Iranian Mullahs are stereotyped in the West, as fanatic and deeply religious, among other things.
In 2006, while I was visiting Syria, I met a Mullah in his late fifties, who was the leader of a group of pilgrims from a city in Iranian Azerbaijan. We sat in a coffee shop and talked about Iran, the revolution, the Shah, and many other things. He told me that during the Shah's regime he was not respected, but he had a good life; now he is hated and struggling in his daily life. After 20 minutes of talking about politics and economy, we ordered more tea and started talking about his private life. He asked me if I knew any disco; when he saw my face, he smiled and told me: "I am not going to dance with my Aba and Amameh (cloak and turban); I always take a suit with me when I travel."
Contrary to Ahmadinejad who did not study in a religious school in Qom, President Hassan Rohani is considered a moderate and pragmatic like two of his predecessors, Rafsanjani and Khatemi. All three wear Aba and Amameh.
As the president-elect, his office tried to reach Iranian educators, scientists, professionals, and businessmen living abroad, asking them to return to Iran and help him succeed in his overwhelming task as the president of Iran.
In every presidential election in Iran, there are two votes that carry clear messages, but there are often deep contradictions between them. The ballot box in which the Iranian supreme leader cast his ballot was reported to be box number 110. For that reason, the votes of that particular box were the first to be counted. The result of the national ballot box, available to all Iranians inside and outside of the country, is known several hours later.
Jalili, Iran's chief negotiator and secretary of the Supreme Council for National Security, received 200 of the votes held in box number 110. Next was Tehran Mayor Qalibaf, with 124 votes. "Other candidates" received fewer than 20 votes. Rohani received only 17 votes. On the other hand, the results of the national ballot box were completely different, with Rohani receiving more than 18 million votes, and Jalili less than four million. The webpage with the result of the ballot box number 110 was later removed.
Rohani's new government will stay away from Ahmadinejad's populist policies, which have brought the economy to the edge of collapse. On August 18, Rohani said, "Foreign policy is not carried out by repeating slogans."
His newly appointed Minister of Culture and Guidance Ali Jannati was subject to harassment by Ahmadinejad, who tried to isolate him in various posts. According to BBC Persian, the minister of Finance criticized Ahmadinejad's chaotic economic policy, and compared it to the economic policy of the Shah.
On June 4, 2013, in a documentary video, the candidate Rohani said:
"It's very beautiful if a centrifuge revolves, but on the condition that the country is revolving as well. We do not accept that one factory in Natanz works but hundreds of other factories do not, due to sanctions preventing provisions of materials and parts."
On August 15, President Rohani appointed Salehi, an PhD from MIT, and twice the chancellor of Sharif University, the most prestigious university in Iran, as the head of Atomic Energy Organization, replacing Abbasi in the post. Abbasi was a professor of nuclear physics at a military university and a member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. He has regularly been linked to Iran's efforts to make a nuclear weapon, a process called weaponization. He is "listed in an annex to UN Security Council Resolution 1747 of 24 March 2007, as a person involved in Iran's nuclear or ballistic missile activities." This resolution imposes an asset freeze and travel notification requirements.
By getting only 17 votes in the ballot box number 110, Rohani had to make some concessions, such as appointing Pourmohammadi as the justice minister.
During his tenure as deputy intelligence minister, Pourmohammadi is reportedly implicated in the 1988 Massacre of Iranian prisoners based on the orders of Ayatollah Khomeini and other key politicians. The Grand Ayatollah Montazeri saw Pourmohammadi as being "a central figure" in the mass executions of prisoners in Tehran.
In January, 2012, a former senior Revolutionary Guard Corps commander, Hossein Alaei, came under attack over an op-ed piece, comparing Iran's clerical establishment with the Pahlavi regime. In his article, Alaei named and praised Ayatollah Khomeini, for his guidance and leadership of the revolution but never mentions Khamenei, who succeeded Khomeini.
Rohani's initial pick, Alaei, as the Minister of defense was rejected by the supreme leader.
JE comments: I'm grateful to Massoud Malek for this insight on President Rohani, who has received very little attention so far on WAIS. Touted as a pragmatist, Rohani should at the least do away with the inflammatory sloganeering that defined the Ahmadinejad era. I suspect that he is spending the first months of his government attempting to consolidate support and power, which is no easy task in the Byzantine world of Iranian politics.