How elections and escalating tensions with Donald Trump will make it difficult for Hassan Rouhani to win a second term
Under United States President Barack Obama, Iran benefited enormously by pretending to be moderate. It was the “moderate” nature of Iran’s current president, Hassan Rouhani, that Mr. Obama said provided pretext for the nuclear deal that he implemented with Iran on Jan. 16, 2016. That deal ended powerful economic sanctions and gave Iran billions of dollars in cash.
However, that moderate pretense may not be Iran’s most expedient policy anymore, now that America has a new president. What worked for President Obama is unlikely to work for President Trump. Going up against Mr. Trump will probably force Iran to drop its cloak of modesty and become more overtly confrontational.
From a foreign-policy point of view, the nuclear deal has been a huge success for Rouhani, who is up for reelection in May. Domestically though, not so much.
In November the National Interest wrote that Rouhani sold the deal to voters saying that it would “alleviate the threat of war against the world’s greatest military power, and second, [it] would inject foreign capital into the Iranian economy and reconnect it to the global marketplace.”
However, one year on from the implementation of the deal, everyday Iranians are yet to feel any economic relief. Instead, most of the economic gains from the deal have gone directly to Iran’s government and military. Added to that, over the past couple of weeks the threat of military action between Iran and the United States has increased. Neither of Rouhani’s selling points for the deal have materialized. And with the elections coming in a few months, hard-liners are looking to capitalize on this.
Trump’s Presence Could Hasten an Anti-Trump
Iran’s hard-liners are already saying that Rouhani is too hesitant to condemn or stand up to Mr. Trump.
They want a counterbalancing president—one who talks as tough as Trump, not a “moderate.” This means the current president needs to stand up to Trump, or he risks looking emasculated.
As Time magazine noted:
Now, he’s trapped between a rock and a hard place. His foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has promised reciprocal measures, but should Rouhani do so too harshly, he runs the risk of Trump moving to nullify his most significant achievement in office.
Hardliners are already saying that Mr. Rouhani was “the right answer in the Obama era but the wrong one now,” as The New York Times put it. “Many expect the next president to be a far more combative figure, in the mold of the former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”
The U.S. administration has been quick to point out the costly nature of war in the Middle East, and how Trump plans to focus more on America and the strengthening of America’s economy. War with the Iranians—the only thing that will really stop them—is not on the cards. In fact, if Mr. Trump wants to withdraw from the Middle East, he may end up relying on Iranian proxies and allies to keep the—very temporary—peace.
Iran WILL Go Nuclear
The National Interest continues to describe Rouhani’s predicament this way:
The ultimate victim of Iran’s missed economic opportunity isn’t the investors who had hoped for a bonanza, and might not even be Rouhani if he survives re-election, but the idea that Iran can solve its disagreements with the U.S. by compromise instead of confrontation.”
It would be all the proof Iran’s leadership would need to argue that force must be met with force. That means ditching the “moderate” façade that has been upheld throughout Rouhani’s first term.
While prophecy does not tell us precisely who will rule Iran during this time, we do know the mindset its leaders will have. It will not be one—as many hope for—of moderation. Whether Rouhani goes more hard-line, or whether he loses in the upcoming election to a stronger figure, one thing is certain: Iran is going to become even more radical and more pushy in its foreign policy.
To learn more about America’s demise and the rise of radical Islam, as well as the hope beyond, request your free copy of The King of the South. ▪
Full article: Iran’s Next President Will Be a Hard-liner (The Trumpet)