The United States shouldn’t have high hopes for a pro-Western Iranian president
The United States and Iran have been engaged in ad hoc talks on reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the “nuclear deal” – for several months now, following the unilateral withdrawal of the United States. treaty in May 2018. So far, little progress has been made on any of the key issues involved on either side, although recent Iranian economic and financial data has kept the Islamic Republic at the table. negotiations.
There are hopes in parts of the US State Department that these data, in conjunction with the election in Iran on June 18 of a new president, will translate into a softening of Tehran’s stance in favor of Iran. acceptance of the stricter clauses that Washington wants to include in any new nuclear deal. These hopes, however, are likely to fall short, as the Iranian presidential election has been rigged to ensure that no such president emerges.
First, in general terms, there is no moderate in high-level Iranian politics, which means that whoever becomes the next president will be of a carefully predetermined type. “It is not possible to be a serious politician in Iran unless you absolutely believe in the fundamentals of those who founded the Islamic Republic,” said exclusively a source close to the current Iranian administration. OilPrice.com Last week.
“At the center of these guiding principles is the concept of Velayat-e-Faqih, which means that all serious political and religious authority is vested in the Shiite clergy, who make all key decisions for Iran, provided they have been approved by the most important religious leader – the Supreme Leader himself [currently Ali Khamenei] – and this is then imposed by the guardians of the  Revolution, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC],” he said.
Related: Hackers Behind US Pipeline Attack Say They Lost Access To Ransom Money
“In practical terms, these decisions will cover everything that is important to Iran, from foreign policy, through defense policy, economic policy and intelligence policy, to any domestic policy in addition to the number of antennas that a specific Tehran apartment complex can have on its roof, ”he added. “In short, there is no such thing as a moderate or intransigent Iranian politician – they are all what one would call the ‘hard line’ in the West – but this differentiation that started in the West has been used as a bargaining ploy in Iran. since. to get what Tehran wants by simply saying: “If you don’t agree with this, we will not be able to control our extremists”, “he stressed.
“There are those politicians who believe that more engagement with the West will get Iran more of what it wants than more engagement with Russia and China, certainly, and there are questions of sovereignty. Iranian people attached to it, but it’s not an ideological difference, just an economic one, ”he told OilPrice.com. Indeed, it must be remembered that the outgoing president, Hassan Rouhani – often cited as a moderate in this sense – began his adult life as a cleric, becoming a staunch supporter of the leader of the 1979 Revolution, the ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei.
This structure is reinforced by the second element of Iran’s power structures which predetermine the type of president he will have after the June 18 elections. Although Iran’s 290-member parliament (the “ Majlis ”) is an elected chamber, its power is limited to determining non-essential matters, but its decisions, even on these, can be overturned because all laws that ‘it adopted must then be approved by the Council of Guardians of the Constitution (the Council of Guardians). This 12-member body acts as a general constitutional overseer, with half of its members still being Shia theologians directly chosen by the Supreme Leader himself. The other six members are lawyers chosen by the head of the judiciary, who is also directly appointed by the Supreme Leader. In practical terms, therefore, the Iranian parliament has tended to deal with only very small internal issues and even these, if they concern in any way economic or state security issues, are taken away from it. . Related: Iran Predicts Increase in Oil Exports
The last element of predetermination in the presidential elections on June 18 is that the process of screening “ qualified candidates ” for the post began some time ago by a body on which no one except the Supreme Leader, has no power whatsoever. – the Council of discernment of the advisability of the system (Council of the expediency). With the current president – Hassan Rouhani – constitutionally barred from running for a third term, the Opportunity Council has been busy reviewing potential candidates which it will in turn hand over to the Guardian Council, which will then publish the official list of six candidates by May 26.
The Council of Opportunity was originally created by the Supreme Leader to resolve any dispute that arose between the Council of Guardians and the Majlis (Iran’s 290-member parliament), but it in turn also functions as a key advisory body. of the Supreme Leader. According to the Iranian source, last week the Iranian Supreme National Security Council sent an eight-page “Basic Candidates Document” to the Opportunity Council which underlines: “Any candidate for the presidency will have to meet the qualifying conditions. that Moscow and Beijing presented. to Iran as preconditions for their continued support. “The document continues:” The level of [Iranian] people’s participation in this [18 June 2021] the election is less important than ensuring that the ideas of the candidates match those of our Russian and Chinese partners. “
This view seems to echo that of Supreme Leader Khamenei who has also repeatedly stated that the United States should lift sanctions against Iran immediately and without any preconditions before Iran fully returns to its obligations. under the JCPOA. In the meantime, Khamenei is fully in favor of the broad 25-year agreement signed between Iran and China (and a corollary expansion of cooperation with Russia) for the first time concluded and reported exclusively in 2019, and its subsequent developments exclusively covered by OilPrice.com.
“This is the reason why the potential presidential candidate who most seeks to re-engage with the West – [Foreign Minister] Mohammad Javad Zarif – has previously been seriously undermined by the anonymous publication of tapes in which he is heard criticizing the extent of the IRGC’s influence in the affairs of his ministry and personally criticizing the former IRGC commander, the Major General assassinated Qassem Soleimani as prioritizing military objectives over military objectives. diplomatic, ”the Iranian source said. “This is also the reason why so many potential candidates have emerged over the past month who are so closely linked to the IRGC or other military institutions, including Saeed Mohammad. [an adviser to new IRGC commander Major General Hossein Salami], former oil minister Rostam Ghasemi [an economic affairs aide to the head of the IRGC’s elite Quds force], and former IRGC officer and police chief, the current Speaker of Parliament, Mohammad Ghalibaf, ”he concluded.
By Simon Watkins for OilUSD
More most popular reads from Oil dollar: