This announcement is somewhat destabilising to the current president – Hassan Rouhani, a supposed “moderate” (as moderate as a leader can be in a country where repression rules).
From now until the election which happens on 19th May, it is sure that we will be hearing many stories about who has done what and what the consequences will be for each candidate.
The reality is though that whoever becomes the next president of the Islamic Republic makes very little difference. The politicians in Iran can all be described as hardliners because they pledge to adhere to the Khomeinist principles that have been in place for decades.
The fifth President of Iran, Mohammad Khatami, won a landslide victory in the elections two decades ago. At that time, there was so much hope for the young people of Iran. But what has changed? The country has been described, on numerous occasions, and by numerous countries, as the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world.
Iran backs the likes of Hezbollah and Hamas and has been involved in the Syrian civil war since the very beginning. In fact, if it were not for Iran, Syrian president Bashar al Assad would not still be holding his position of power.
The Iranian regime exists according to its own rules. It completely disregards the human rights of its own people, never mind those of the civilians in the countries it is interfering in.
Over a year ago, British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in Iran as she was returning home to the UK after visiting her family. She was separated from her baby and was put into solitary confinement. Over the course of the past 12 months, Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been refused medical treatment and has undergone difficult interrogations. The United Kingdom has ignored the plight of Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and much to the disgust of her family, the British government has not even publicly condemned the five-year prison sentence she was given for vague charges.
The BBC “Today” programme aired a very poorly researched documentary about Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case last week. No officials from the Foreign Office were consulted and many were left with the feeling that the BBC did not want to “rock the boat” with Iran.
So does it matter who becomes the new President of the Islamic Republic if the United Kingdom cares more about appeasing the country and ignoring its criminal activities than protecting one of its own citizens?