Image: Maryam Kamyab
Regardless of Tehran’s success or ability in managing the country’s poor economic situation, it will be shortsighted to think that the Raisi administration or any future Islamic Republic government will forgo the country’s investments in missile or nuclear technologies. The following is an excerpt of the article which can be read in full here.
The unprecedented level of voter apathy was mainly the result of the early disqualification of well-known reformist and centrist figures by the country’s powerful Guardian Council coupled with increasing economic discontent in recent years caused by U.S. sanctions and internal mismanagement.
Unlike previous elections, foreign policy did not dominate the presidential debates among the candidates. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had already steered the candidates to prioritize the economy as the main focus of their campaign platforms. Despite limited discussion on foreign policy, all candidates, including Ebrahim Raisi, pledged their support for the ongoing negotiations in Vienna to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more popularly known as the Iran nuclear deal, which promises to end economic sanctions against the country. This endorsement was again reiterated by Raisi in his first news conference as the president-elect, where he indicated that his government would preserve the JCPOA while emphasizing that his priority will remain improving the economic conditions at home. Moreover, he also made it clear that Tehran will not deviate from the current course on its regional policies. He stressed his administration’s openness to restoring full diplomatic ties with Riyadh and to reopening embassies in both countries, signaling his full support for the ongoing security dialogue between Iran and Saudi Arabia headed by the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC).
With the Biden administration committed to resuscitating the JCPOA and the U.S. pivot away from the Middle East to East Asia, Islamic Republic elites appear to believe that now is the best time for Iran to use its hard-earned leverage—gained with the defeat of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign—to not only secure tangible benefits from the revival of the deal but also to reshape the regional security architecture to its advantage through negotiations with Saudi Arabia. Thus, it is not surprising that Raisi and his allies have, to a great extent, toned down their harsh rhetoric against the deal, quietly aligning themselves with the two-pronged diplomacy that is led by Hassan Rouhani’s government in Vienna and the SNSC through multiple rounds of talks in Baghdad and Muscat.