A new president has been elected in Iran. Ebrahim Raisi was selected by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, and this selection will serve to further an environment of fear among Iranians who do not support the existing theocracy. Together, President Ebrahim Raisi and Khamenei will support each other’s fanatical dispositions and perpetuation of Iranian intervention in the Middle East, nuclear weapons development, and increased antagonistic relationships with Israel and Arab states near the Persian Golf. The two leaders serve as theocratic ideologues intending to further the Iranian regime’s authoritarian aims and to destroy any opposition to the regime within Iran.
Ebrahim Raisi is preceded by his reputation for ruthless behavior and fanatical support of the Islamic Republic’s theocratic regime. Moreover, Raisi is positioned as a likely successor to Khamenei, who is over 80 years old. According to the FDD organization, Raisi’s political career has demonstrated his alignment with Khamenei’s policies and principles of theocratic authoritarian government. Key to Raisi’s policy portfolio is his lack of opposition regarding Iran returning the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA) agreement with the United States. Raisi’s closeness to the supreme leader and his alignment with Khamenei’s policies will help him consolidate power enabling his ascension when the supreme leader passes away.
Both Khamenei and Raisi understand Iran’s need for large amounts of cash. According to the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies, sanctions imposed by the United States have crippled the Iranian regime’s funding used to perpetuate its illicit activities. These activities include nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development, interventionism in the Middle East, and the proliferation of terrorist activities. Reestablishing the terms of the JPCOA will provide Iran with a much-needed cash flow of funds from the U.S., in addition to cash flow to be generated from lifting sanctions.
Raisi has also stated his intentions regarding key Iranian policies. Raisi is unwilling to negotiate or compromise regarding Iran’s ambition to develop ballistic missiles or Iran’s regional expansion or intervention in the Middle East. Raisi was acting in primary national security positions prior to his ascension. His policies have been reflected in Iran’s actions over recent years. Moreover, Ebrahim Raisi intensely dislikes the neighboring Arab monarchies and other states in the Middle East. This includes a strong dislike for Saudi Arabia and the active promotion of anti-Semitism and the destruction of Israel. Additionally, the new president has stated his unwillingness to meet with Biden.
With the ascension of Raisi, the tone of the Islamic Republic for the foreseeable future has been set. This includes fanatical support for nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development, greater regional control in the Middle East, terrorism support, further human rights abuses, and a hostile stance towards Saudi Arabia, Israel, and other states. The Biden administration should observe this development and take this into consideration in handling Iran and regarding rejoining the JPCOA. Any curtailing of Iran’s nefarious activities will come as a consequence of the United States and allied policies, not from within the regime’s leadership. Rejoining the JPCOA will only enable Iran’s theocratic leaders to succeed in their destructive and destabilizing goals.