During the recent election campaign, Rouhani frequently incited violence against his opponent Ebrahim Raisi. It is true that he tried to make himself appear as a moderate compared to hardliner Raisi who has an equally shocking career history. Raisi was part of the so-called “Death Commission” in Iran during the 1988 massacre in which the Supreme Leader had issued a fatwa ordering the death of more than 30,000 political prisoners.
It was clear that Rouhani had no intention of challenging the regime’s extremism or violence.
The Iranian people, exasperated by the lack of choice, boycotted the elections. They wanted the international community to see what a sham the election process in Iran is.
Rouhani’s career history is no more encouraging. He has been a regime insider for years and was a senior security official during the 1988 massacre. During his first term as President, he presided over thousands of executions.
The 2015 Iran nuclear deal agreed with the US and other major world powers has given Iran sanctions relief worth tens of billions of dollars. Many believe that the regime in Iran was given too many concessions and the goal of permanently stopping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
President Obama (and many others) believed that the Iranian regime would change its behaviour and that relations between Iran and the rest of the world would improve as a result.
This never happened. In fact, the situation got worse. Iran test fired numerous ballistic missiles and has publicly declared that it is ready for war. It has continued to heavily support Assad in Syria, with manpower, funding, arms and ground coordination.
At home, the Iranian people are arbitrarily arrested for dress-code violations, involvement in social activities or sports, political matters or quite simply because of their faith. Torture is used by the Iranian regime and executions, even group ones, are rife with many taking place in public. Women and minors are not even spared execution.
However, support for the Iranian Resistance is growing. People inside Iran, and the international community, now realised that there is a real, viable, democratic alternative to the Iranian regime. Once the Iranian people feel that they have the support they need from the international community, they will no doubt take to the streets like they did in 2009. And the outcome will be different this time.