Experts: Rowhani No Moderate

Iran-watchers warn against thinking new Iranian president will tamp down regime’s nuclear ambitions

Former government officials and experts say that newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rowhani is not the moderate he appears to be.

Cleric Rowhani is already being hailed in the media as a progressive reformer. He surprised Iran observers across the globe on Saturday by securing a definitive win in the country’s closely watched election.

He was quickly dubbed a moderate maverick who could bring Tehran closer to reticent Western leaders who remain concerned about Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program.

Yet Rowhani, who served for years as Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, is expected to present a friendly face to the world as Tehran’s military leaders quietly fulfill their nuclear ambitions, experts said. Continue reading

Iran Guards wield electoral power behind scenes

The Revolutionary Guards, a military force over 100,000 strong which also controls swathes of Iran’s economy, is widely assumed to have fixed the vote last time around, silenced those who protested and to be preparing to anoint a favoured candidate this year, having already narrowed down the field.

The successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who steps down after a second term, will remain subordinate to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And many see the hand of the Guards, the muscle of the Islamic Republic’s clerical rulers, in steering victory toward one of several conservative loyalists -while stifling the kind of protests that followed the 2009 vote. Continue reading