Tehran, Iran – The head of the court, Ebrahim Raisi, has been elected as next president of Iran at a critical time for the country. Who is the Conservative leader and what are his positions?
Raisi, 60, enjoys the strong support of the conservative and hard revolutionary camp and its base., he will remain the first judge until he takes over from outgoing moderate president Hassan Rouhani in early August, as he did not step down to run for president.
Like Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader wears a black turban, meaning he is a sayyid, a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.
Raisi is known as a likely successor to Khamenei, 82, when he dies.
Before the 1979 revolution
Raisi was born in Mashhad, in northeastern Iran, an important city and a religious center for Shiite Muslims, as it houses the shrine of Imam Reza, the eighth imam.
Growing up in a clerical family, Raisi received a religious education and began attending Qom seminary when she was 15 years old. There he studied with several prominent scholars, including Khamenei.
When he began his training during the presidential debates, he denied that he had only six degrees of classical education, saying he had a doctorate in law in addition to his training at the seminary.
When he entered the influential Qom seminary a few years before the 1979 revolution that provoked the Islamic Republic, many Iranians were dissatisfied with the governance of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was eventually ousted.
Raisi allegedly took part in some of the events that forced the shah into exile and established the new clerical establishment under the command of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
After the revolution
After the revolution, Raisi joined Masjed Soleyman’s prosecutor’s office in southwestern Iran. Over the next six years, he added his experience as a prosecutor in several other jurisdictions.
A crucial fact occurred when he moved to the Iranian capital, Tehran, in 1985 after being appointed deputy prosecutor.
Human rights groups say that three years later, just months after the end of the grueling eight-year Iran-Iraq war, he was part of the so-called “death commission” that oversaw the disappearances and secret executions of thousands of political prisoners.
Raisi will become the first Iranian president targeted by U.S. sanctions, imposed in 2019, for his alleged role in the mass executions and for cracking down on public protests.
Amnesty International has called on the leader to face charges of crimes against humanity.
The leader continued to rise within the Iranian judicial system after Khamenei’s accession to the supreme leadership in 1989. He later served as Tehran’s prosecutor, then headed the General Inspection Organization and served as deputy head of justice for a decade until 2014, during which the 2009 pro-democracy Green Movement protests took place.
In 2006, while serving as deputy director of justice, he was first elected from South Khorasan to the Assembly of Experts, a body tasked with choosing a replacement for the supreme leader in the event of his death. He still plays that role.
Raisi was promoted to Attorney General of Iran in 2014 and remained in that position until 2016, when he rose again, albeit this time out of the judiciary, and was appointed by the supreme leader as in the custody of the Astan-e Quds Razavi, a huge trust, or charity, which manages the shrine of Imam Reza and all affiliated organizations.
In this position, Raisi commanded billions of dollars worth of assets and established links with the religious and business elite of Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city.
Raisi, who has two daughters, is also the son-in-law of Ahmad Alamolhoda, the tough leader of Mashhad’s Friday prayer, who has become famous for his fiery, ultra-conservative speeches and highly controversial ideas and comments.
In 2017, Raisi ran for president for the first time and became the main candidate against Rouhani, a moderate who defended the commitment to the 2015 Western and Iranian nuclear deal with world powers that lifted sanctions. multilateral exchanges in exchange for halting the country’s nuclear program.
Raisi and his ally Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who in 2020 became the president of a new tough parliament amid low turnout and widespread disqualification of reformist candidates, lost the election to Rouhani. Raisi, however, garnered just under 16 million votes or 38% in an election with a turnout of 73%.
After a brief retreat, the supreme leader in 2019 appointed him the first judge.
In this position, the leader tried to consolidate his image as a staunch opponent of corruption. He held public trials and prosecuted figures close to the government and the judiciary.
He also effectively began his presidential campaign and traveled to almost all 32 provinces of Iran. In those visits, he often announced that he had reclaimed a large factory from the brink of bankruptcy, that he represented himself as an advocate for Iranian workers, and that he was pushing local businesses under U.S. sanctions.
Raisi took this issue to his 2021 campaign, in which he made limited promises, as it was clear that none of the other candidates could pose a serious challenge to his presidency amid a poor economic situation, low turnout and a widespread disqualification of reformist and moderate candidates.
During his time in the judiciary, the Signal messaging app was banned earlier this year after an increase in popularity, as well as the Clubhouse voice chat app when it became massively popular in the face of elections.
All major messaging and social networking apps are blocked in Iran, with the exception of Instagram and WhatsApp.
Economy and nuclear agreement
When pressured by another candidate, Raisi briefly discussed the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA), as the nuclear deal that former U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned in 2018 is formally known.
Although he had previously opposed the agreement, this time he said he would support it like any other state commitment, but would form a “strong” government that would be able to steer it in the right direction. .
A sixth round of talks between Iran and world powers is underway in Vienna for restore agreement, this, if successful, will lead to the lifting of US sanctions and a reduction in Iran’s nuclear program, as the country now enriches uranium to 63%, the highest rate in history.
Although the June 24 deadline for a temporary agreement with the International Atomic Energy Organization to keep track of activities in Iran is approaching, negotiators have said the sixth round will not be the final round. But there are hopes that the deal can be reactivated before Raisi takes office.
Meanwhile, Iran’s 83 million population suffers from rampant inflation and high unemployment, while the government has a considerable budget deficit and faces difficulties in handling what has become the deadliest COVID-19 pandemic. of the Middle East.
Raisi is committed to fighting inflation, creating at least a million jobs a year, building new homes and dedicating special loans to first-time home buyers getting married, as well as starting a new era. of financial transparency and the fight against corruption.
Hamed Mousavi, a professor of political science at Tehran University, said the narrative among conservatives has been that the mismanagement of the Rouhani government has led to the current situation.
“So, according to this narrative, if this mismanagement is corrected, the economy will be fixed, but I think many conservatives understand at least internally the importance of sanctions,” he told Al Jazeera.
“I think this will go back to how much Raisi will show flexibility in the negotiations. An important point is who will be designated for the nuclear denials. “
One option is the toughest Saeed Jalili, a former nuclear negotiator led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was one of seven candidates approved in the 2021 race and withdrew in favor of Raisi.
According to Natasha Lindstaedt, a researcher at the University of Essex, the likely effects of Raisi’s election on ties with the United States are uncertain.
“But the kind of rhetoric the Iranian president can issue sometimes affects the way the U.S. responds,” he told Al Jazeera.
“I see Raisi in some way as the return to Ahmadinejad, a more populist and authoritarian president and that was a period when relations with the United States and Iran were really strained,” he said.