The Trump administration hopes that the re-imposed sanctions that followed his exit from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will force Iran to negotiate for a new nuclear deal to replace it. However, many Iran analysts believe that Iran is inclined to wait Trump out, putting off any re-engagement until after the 2020 U.S. presidential election, in the hope there may be a new occupant in the White House.
Rouhani’s future, however, appears dismal. The only other time a sitting Iranian president was brought before lawmakers was in 2012, when Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s relations with the country’s political elite and its Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei were at their worst.
Hard-liners have been attacking Rouhani, and he was called to explain his government’s mismanagement of the economy.
A conservative member accused Rouhani of creating a “dream castle” of expectations over the 2015 nuclear accord, and of failing to come up with a Plan B when Trump “destroyed it with one kick.”
Many believe that Khamenei’s use for Rouhani is now primarily as a scapegoat. Since the end of last year, protests across the country that began with a huge uprising, have continued. Iranians have had enough of the mismanagement of the economy, corruption, and government spending on Syria and Lebanon. Protestor’s slogans target Khamenei.
Iran’s government gives the Supreme Leader most of the power, and the president most of the responsibility, allowing Khamenei to deflect blame to Rouhani, which he has done as the protests continue.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Leader blamed foreign enemies — the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia — for creating “troubles for the Islamic Republic.” With the ongoing demonstrations, he has since grudgingly allowed that the protesters have legitimate grievances. But Khamenei does not acknowledge his own contribution to their grievances.
Khamenei’s religious foundations have amassed enormous, unaccounted wealth, while Iranians struggle to feed their families. The resource-draining foreign misadventures the protesters complain of are Khamenei’s creation.
Ministers from Rouhani’s cabinet are also Khamenei’s targets. The labor minister was the first to be impeached, followed by the minister for the economy. Now two other members of the cabinet, the minister of education and the minister of mines, industry, and business, face impeachment. He has begun an anti-corruption crackdown which has led to scores of arrests.
Regarding impeaching Rouhani himself, discussions will likely halt. Khamenei still needs his president to blame.