Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has just been re-elected for another term. He was up against rival Ebrahim Raisi. Rouhani is considered by many as the lesser of two evils, but this is by no means to say that Rouhani is a promising choice. Indeed, he has been president for the past four years and nothing has really improved for the people of Iran.
In fact, his true nature is evident when we listen to an old speech he made saying that dissidents deserve to be hanged during Friday prayers. He said this should serve as a message to other dissidents.
Although this happened near the beginning of the revolution in Iran, it shows the kind of man Rouhani is. He said during the recent election campaign that he wants to defend the rights of the people and slammed Raisi for his role in the 1988 massacre in which tens of thousands of political prisoners were executed.
Rouhani also promised that he would bring more freedom to the press and gender equality. This is something very positive, if it were ever to happen via Rouhani.
It is unfortunately another example of the false promises that Rouhani makes. He says what he knows the world wants to hear. He makes promises that the West would approve of. However, Rouhani made many promises back when he was elected for his first term. The reality however was far from positive. The human rights situation during his first term was abysmal. Numerous international human rights organisations have criticised Iran on many occasions for countless abuses of human rights.
Dissidents, journalists, Iranians with dual nationality, young people, women, artists, etc., have been arrested, tortured and executed in Iran. Just before the voting took place in Iran for the elections last week, dozens of members of the European Parliament urged Iran in an open letter to stop the harassment, arrest and intimidation of journalists.
Rouhani, whether he makes promises that he intends to keep or not, is not in a position to make any change. He is at the mercy of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who has absolute rule over the Islamic Republic. Rouhani is basically just an enabler of the Supreme Leader’s policies.
Foreign policy is not in the hands of the president. During the nuclear deal negotiations, it was Khamenei who controlled the Iranian side.
The Western media portrays a very distorted view of the reality in Iran. When President Obama was in the White House, he used to talk about the “moderate” Rouhani and how the nuclear deal would change the regime’s behaviour. This didn’t happen. Now the West is talking about Rouhani’s landslide victory in the latest election. However, elections in the West are democratic. The election in Iran was far from it. For a start, the candidates have already been pre-selected in line with who will follow the regime’s ideology. Those who don’t were eliminated as candidates.
The Iranian people know that their future is bleak with Rouhani, or any of the other candidates. In 2009, the people took to the streets and protested. This rattled the regime and it is fearful that there will be another popular uprising. It is a vicious circle for the regime because the more people dissent, the more suppressive it becomes, which in turn makes more people dissent.
The regime is in a very weak position and the West must realise that the current President of Iran will do nothing to help the people. He will continue to supress the people and international action must be taken. The international community needs to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Iran who deserve to have their human rights restored.